Kosher Queers

97 — Nitzavim: Am Bartholomew Chai

September 02, 2021 Jaz Twersky and Lulav Arnow Season 2 Episode 97
Kosher Queers
97 — Nitzavim: Am Bartholomew Chai
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we are strongly in favor of having help (both from people and canes), have mixed feelings about Jericho walks, and dislike when trans people are rude about the ways other people are trans. Plus, being flirty but judgemental with G-d! 
Transcript available here.

Here's the Cowbody Rap that Lulav referenced. For our listener Consolations, you can listen to "Back in the Ring" by Chris Pureka and the poem "Hope Is Not A Bird, Emily, It's A Sewer Rat" by Caitlin Seida, which is available via photo here, and for purchase in her book ebook My Broken Voice: Poetry from the Edge and Back. Also, here's "what resembles the grave but isn’t" by Anne Boyer.  Ian Perry's poetry isn't published anywhere that we know of, but we're grateful it was shared with us! Also, thank you to @froggybulbes on Twitter for sharing your personal life Consolation.

This week's reading is Isaiah 61:10–63:9. Next week's reading is a combination of Hosea 14:2-10, and Micah 7:18-20 and Joel 2:15-27.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, and our transcript was written by JJ Jensen, who you can follow on Twitter @pantspossum. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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Lulav: Hey, Jaz. What's something cool and queer or Jewish that's happened in your life recently?

Jaz: Hi. I have recently had my first Shabbos with my new roommate. One of my new roommates, the other one isn't here yet and I still have not met him. But I had Shabbos with a handful of different people who I'm gonna be in rabbinical school with, all of whom are at least a year ahead of me. I have yet to meet any of my own classmates in person. But I had a very lovely Shabbat dinner that I was very kindly invited to by some of the other rabbinical students, many of whom were queer. It was a very Jewish gathering. And then, the following day, on Saturday, I wandered around to some yard sales, art markets, and things, with my new roommate, who is a fellow rabbinical school student, and a friend of hers, and I picked up a pair of bisexual pride earrings along the way, which is nice because I have trans pride, and I have rainbow things. I have other kinds of pride stuff, but I don't have any, like, bi pride earrings at the moment.

Lulav: Yeah, I was just about to ask. Do you have any — not necessarily bi pride flag, but like, bi colored earrings, or earrings where you're like, yeah, this is me, flagging bisexual.

Jaz: So I do now.

Lulav: Cool.

Jaz: But I didn't really before. I had one little bisexual pride embroidery thing in my house. It's a little cactus plant that's embroidered with the colors of the bi flag on the, like, little pot that it's in.

Lulav: Aww.

Jaz: And I have a bi flag on a poster that my friends made for me that hangs above my desk, but I didn't really have anything in the bi colors that I wore.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I once did. I had a couple things, but it was a gift from an ex --

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: But shortly after we broke up. I got rid of those. I just wasn't gonna wear them with that particular association, though I did keep the trans pride stuff that I got from her. Anyway, but I now have these earrings that are not associated with anybody but me, and that I'm happy to own. 

Lulav: Yeah. They're yours. I'm so happy for you.

Jaz: So, those are my cool and queer and Jewish things. Lulav, what's something cool or queer or Jewish that happened in your life recently?

Lulav: Well, I got surgery recently. Is this the first time we're recording since?

Jaz: Yeah. Last time we recorded was right before your surgery. (Lulav laughs) And then we took a little bit of a break to allow you some recuperation. 

Lulav: Yeah, and I'm recuperating pretty well. I am — can we say assless chaps on this podcast? 

Jaz: I suppose so. 

Lulav: I am still wearing the assless chaps that they gave me from surgery, though I have changed the pad multiple times.

Jaz: To clarify this for the listeners --

Lulav: Uh-huh?

Jaz: They asked you, as part of surgery recovery, to wear these very tight underwear, basically, and they said you could change them out with different type underwear, and then change them out for normal things after a little bit.

Lulav: Yes, however, I do know the cowboy rap, so... There's just an appeal to having my whole butt out, which is something that I discovered after waking up from surgery, and I don't recall if anybody had warned me of the fact that I just wouldn't have a behind to my underwear. So that was a surprise. But yeah, I don't know, I had a great time being chirurgured, and I had an even greater time being taken care of after surgery. 

Jaz: You were very funny right after surgery, I do want to say. You were very confident that the medication had had no effect on you and that you could drive right home. 

Lulav: Again, I must insist that that was not my experience of it. I was like, "Listen, I could drive. I'm not going to, 'cause that's a very bad idea, but I could." 

Jaz: Your memory's playing tricks on you --

Lulav: And you have misconstrued -- (laughs)

Jaz: And I, having not, at the time, had a lot of drugs injected into my system, do want to be clear, that I like, physically withheld the keys from you.

Lulav: Oh. (both laugh) Well then. I probably just wanted to know where they were — (both laugh) Anyway! This is a very fun experience of reading intentions onto your past self that your past self may not have had, given that your past self was in a different place. Much like how we, you know, construct the person that we were at age six, or whatever.

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: In the present.

Jaz: Uh huh. I want to tell the listeners that, because Lulav couldn't legally sign her own release paperwork, and I signed it for her, she was like, "But I wanna sign something!" and then whined until I gave her, like, a napkin, and she signed it and was like, "Here, Jaz! Now you have my autograph." (both laugh)

Lulav: I just wanted to sign things. Listen, dignity of risk. If you're told that you can't do things, that is so, like, restrictive and dehumanizing. And so, I just wanted to sign something. It didn't have to be something legally binding. I just wanted to sign something. So that was a story that Jaz told accurately both to their memories and my memories. (laughs)

Jaz: It was very funny. Anyway, sorry. Continue your story. 

Lulav: Yes, they tell you that you need to have somebody to pick you up after surgery, and boy howdy, is it great, not only to have somebody to pick you up, but also like, somebody to just take care of you. And that's so true, because it's amazing how useless I was, like, immediately after surgery, even for a couple of days, and I am holding these two truths of like, Wow, dang, I sure wanted to be very careful about how I moved even though I had a pretty minor surgery that had as far as I can tell, three total incisions, and then the other truth is like, dang, bodies heal up pretty fast. 

Jaz: Yeah! 

Lulav: It has been, what, eight days, and a couple hours, and I can walk unassisted,  though, I gotta say, canes are amazing. It's really nice being able to like, balance your body, and, you know, put some weight into your arms if your legs are having a troubled time. But yeah, it's been eight days and like, I'm good. I'm not, like, lacking any bodily functions. This is just pretty rad. And I think my gender of the week three episodes from now is going to be more of a report on my state when I've had a little more chance to recover, but for now let me just say, it's cool, it's queer, it's Jewish, and I got to have Jaz stay with me for a couple days. I don't know, five days? It was really nice to just be taken care of, and also to not have to put that burden squarely on my roommates. Thank you for doing that emotional labor, and physical labor, and taking time out of your busy schedule, Jaz.

Jaz: This is very sweet. I — just as a note about my political orientation here, is just that I really think that emotional labor is a very useful term that describes, like, having to be nice to customers — 

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: — and not a very useful term to describe me choosing to take care of my partner.

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: And that, like, the love and care we have for the people in our lives, not that that isn't a thing that takes effort and choice and whatever, but is different substantively from, like, you gotta smile 'cause otherwise you could get fired.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: And I think there's value in me being able to realize, like, the thing I am here to do, and I'm glad that I am here to do it, but the thing I am here to do is to take care of my girlfriend --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — physically, mentally, emotionally, while she's going through it. And I am glad that I had the life circumstances to be able to take that time, that it was during my summer before school starts, and that all worked out.

Lulav: Yeah. Thanks, pal.

Jaz: Let's go into the episode. 

(Brivele intro)

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions. Each week we bring you queer takes on Torah. They're Jaz — 

Jaz: — and she's Lulav — 

Lulav: — and we're here to joke about Judaism and talk Tanakh together. Today, our chevruta is learning the haftarah of Nitzavim, which is Yeshiyahu 61:10 to 63:9. And you may be like "Lulav, that's spread across three whole chapters! Isn't that, like, way more than we usually read?" And to that I would say, when I was having a bad day, I asked Jaz to read this haftarah to me, and I did not fall asleep before they were done, and I'm pretty sure I remember all of it. (Jaz laughs) So, like, it's not that long.

Jaz: It's not that long. Partly it's not that long because I went into it like, "oh my goodness, we're gonna read three chapters in this?"

Lulav: Oh, were you going at a clip? 

Jaz: No. I wasn't. (Lulav laughs) But the first chapter, in particular, is very short. Normally a lot of these chapters are like, I dunno, 30 verses or something. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: This one barely gets into double digits. (Lulav laughs) It is 11 verses, and we start at verse nine. So… 

Lulav: Yeah, it is a short one. So, I think it is incumbent on me to summarize the parsha that we're coming from, and to try and make a little bit of a connection here.

Jaz: Yeah, it is. How long would you like for that endeavor?

Lulav: Oh, that's actually a great question. I'm gonna say 30 seconds.

Jaz: Okay. 3, 2, 1, go.

Lulav: Y'all stand this day in the face of the Name, your god. That's all y'all, today and tomorrow, cutting into this big covenant - and if you're thinking to go back on your word, you best not cut in the first place. It's fine to have doubts, sure, but don't act them out, y'know? Anyway, you're gonna mess up, and you're gonna be punished, and you're gonna come back from that punishment, and we're gonna try again, and it's gonna be great. Lo bashamayim hu, v'lo mé’éver layam hu, ki karov éleicha hadvar la’asoto. Seriously, I gotta say this a second time at length and swear by the heavens and the othercoast that the thing ain't in: follow the dang covenant. 

Jaz: Okay. That was five over, mostly, I think, because you had Hebrew and then translated it.

Lulav: I didn't, but the translation there: "it's not in the heavens, and it's not on the other side of the ocean, but rather, the thing that you gotta do is real close to you."

Jaz: Yeah. You did translate it, just slightly more loosely than that.

Lulav: Yeah, this was an interesting parsha, because the thing that follows the "it's not in the heavens" part is an exact re-statement of everything that was said before that, of just like, "Follow the dang covenant. I swear on the heaven and the earth."

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: So yeah: lots of repetition, lots of really simple poetic statements, means that this was only 35 seconds unlike some of the 90-second beasts that we've been doing lately. 

Jaz: Right. (Lulav laughs) So, what does that have to do with this week's haftarah?

Lulav: This week's haftarah is talking about greatly rejoicing in Hashem, and exulting in It, and like, ways in which you won't be called forsaken and desolate, but rather, shall be called delighted in and espoused, and there are those dual statements in contrast with other dual statements, which show up a lot in Nitzavim, and there's also just this general sense of, like, "hey, it's a big covenant, and you are going to do it." And also, it's not quite the end of Devarim, or of Torah, but it is really the concluding statement. It's like, okay, we're wrapping up all of these laws that I've just gone over repeatedly, and reminding you that you gotta do this covenant. And here, this is the last of the Consolations, which come after some Admonitions too. And so, like, this is the last reading that we have in the haftarah cycle from the book of the Yeshiyahu. From that absolute bear of a book.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: So, yeah, those are three connections there. 

Jaz: Cool. 

Lulav: Do you think that's fair, and are you seeing any others that are like, oh yeah, of course, this?

Jaz: You know what? I'm gonna go with yours.

Lulav: Okay. Thank you. So, I think that means it is your turn to take point. 

Jaz: Yeah, so let's look at the haftarah itself.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: We start with Isaiah 61:10, and this one is fun because I think it is Isaiah's voice, not G-d's voice, and we switch off a fair bit. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Throughout this haftarah. That's not always the case, like sometimes, it's just one or the other, but I think there's some switching off here. This one starts with Isaiah rejoicing, in a way that reminds me a little bit of the Persian poet, Hafez. It's like, "I greatly rejoice in G-d. My whole being exalts in my god. Very loving. G-d has clothed me in garments of triumph, wrapped me in a robe of victory." And then, compares to Isaiah to both a bridegroom and a bride— 

Lulav: Mmm. Mm hmm.

Jaz: — both decked out for their wedding day.

Lulav: Getting real alchemical up in here. Okay.

Jaz: What? How?

Lulav: One of the points of alchemy is to create a Rebis, which is…(monologuing alchemist voice) the ultimate merger of the masculine and feminine in a single body!

Jaz: It is?

Lulav: Yeah. The other thing is something about the philosopher's stone. Also, I'm not gonna pretend to know what alchemists are talking about; like, there's a lot of mysticism that I don't necessarily vibe with going on there.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Including the whole thing of, like, there is male and female as these discrete universal things. But anyway, yes. That is all to say, we're getting alchemical with it. (laughs)

Jaz: Okay. And then we're growing stuff.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Like, Earth brings forth growth, and garden makes seeds shoot up. That's like how G-d will make us all bloom in front of everybody.

Lulav: There's a lot about victory here. Like, victory is used in...four? Four consecutive lines.

Jaz: Uh-huh.

Lulav: And that's not a thing that I was feeling as much from Nitzavim. Parashat Nitzavim had much more, just like, "you know it's gonna be great, you're gonna have a whole bunch of descendants, it's gonna be cool".

Jaz: Uh-huh.

Lulav: Does that say anything to you, or...?

Jaz: You know, I think it's an interesting question. Like, if you picture— 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: —total victory. What does that look like to you?

Lulav: I mean, I've come up on a diet of tactics games, where what total victory means is elimination of all opponents.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And so, when I hear "victory," I am more reticent to revel in that. 

Jaz: Uh-huh. I did go back and check, just to make sure that I was correct. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: The word is "tzedek," or "tzedakah," in all of these lines. 

Lulav: Oh, "victory" is "tzedek"?

Jaz: Uh huh. Or tzedekcha in which case it's like, your victory or your justice or--

Lulav: Why would they translate it like that?

Jaz: The translator has chosen to call this "victory," but if you prefer to call it "justice" or "righteousness" or--

Lulav: Yeah, that's so much cooler. I mean, translating it as "justice" also bears the weight of, like, playing D&D and having all these paladins going on about justice when it's really just being a cop, but like, there is more of a tradition, I think, of "justice" being a translation for "tzedek" — which means much more the real, actual justice than it does, just, like, puttin' away the perps. 

Jaz: Right. Like, we link it very clearly with "tzedakah"-- 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: —which some translators do as "charity," and, like, I don't love that, partially because it's so clearly a thing you're obligated to do, because of justice.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Rather than, like, just from the kindness of your heart. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: But we do have a history there of linking tzedakah to the way we take care of other people, so... 

Lulav: Yeah. I think "charity" has this insipid the right word?

Jaz: Oooh.

Lulav: Implication in English, where it's like, "noblesse oblige", like, because you are in a position where you can give things to other people, you have to treat the smallfolk to your charity.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Whereas "caritas" is, like, the Latin thing of actually caring for other people, which seems a lot closer to "tzedek" and "tzedakah" than we really read it in English.

Jaz: That's fair. Okay, so we have moved into chapter 62. "For the sake of Tzion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still, 'til her justice emerges." (Lulav laughs) Anyway, nations shall see it, and every king, and you'll be called by a new name.

Lulav: Oooh.

Jaz: What do you think the new name should be?

Lulav: The — Bartholomew.

Jaz: What?

Lulav: (laughs) I don't know! It's whatever name you want. Do you want me to give the textual answer, a joke answer like the one that I just gave, or like, a really thoughtful answer? 

Jaz: I would love to see what you think the textual answer is, but I also want — if we get victory, what do you want Jews to be called?

Lulav: (laughs) I think the textual answer here is that you'll be a glorious crown, a symbol of power and of excess wealth. You won't be called forsaken or desolate, you will be called delighted in and espoused, so like, the new name is a more glorious name, one that reflects, you know, the fact that you are Avraham, rather than Avram, or Sarah rather than Sarai. 

Jaz: Sure. 

Lulav: And so, the slightly less textual one is, you know, your parents give you a name, but you gotta choose one yourself, frankly. Whether or not that's the same one that your parents gave you.

Jaz: That's very like the joke that you sometimes see trans people doing. "Nice name you got there, did your parents pick it out for you?" (both laugh)

Lulav: And then the corollary joke: "Nice name you got there." "Thanks, I picked it out myself."

Jaz: (laughs) Right.

Lulav: So, yeah. The new name is a name that you choose, rather than a name that's forced upon you, and I think a lot about, you know, exonyms, the name that you get called other people that then, other cultures call you, because they've been interacting with the people who hate you?

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Versus the name that you call yourself.

Jaz: Sure.

Lulav: Which often, but not always, means "people." In the case of Jews, we're the ones who wrestle with G-d.

Jaz: Yeah. But then there's also these things about, like, getting married, rejoicing. Sort of like what we see in Shabbat.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: You use the metaphor of marriage because it's supposed to be like, total celebration of joy.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And so they bring it up as, like, see, it'll be that joyful.

Lulav: Yeah. We had a really interesting conversation, I think last night, about how marriage customs and associated customs tend to be about just throwing a party for some people?

Jaz: Yeah. We were discussing the point of bachelor and bachelorette parties, and how (Lulav laughs) you could have something that's like, "This is my last opportunity before I'm tied down!" (Lulav laughs) "And there will be strippers, because after that I'm stuck, and also this is single-gender!" And those sound very bad.

Lulav: Oh, G-d.

Jaz: But you could also have a thing that's like, hey, we're about to celebrate the two of us together, and we're gonna take separate moments for a minute, to like, gather with separate friends so that they can celebrate us individually first --

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: — in ways that are unique to us, and that is charming.

Lulav: Yeah.

Lulav: So, a lot of that stuff of just, like, celebration here. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Intentional celebration.

Jaz: Yeah. Ones that are not just because that's the way people do it, but more like, we have considered thoughtfully, and this is how we would like to be joyous. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Okay, and then there's like--

Lulav: Really rowdy watchmen. (laughs)

Jaz: Who shall never be silent, by day or by night! There are crows guarding your city. Yeah, they just don't rest until they have set up holy city, and made it known throughout the earth. 

Lulav: Would you like to read the translation for "hamazkirim et Hashem"? 

Jaz: No. (Lulav laughs) This is like, the most, clunky translation. I can't believe they did it like that. 

Lulav: “Oh, you, the Lord's remembrancers.” (laughs) 

Jaz: Incredibly unnecessarily clunky. 

Lulav: Like, okay, I think it's fair in that you got the shoresh “zayin-kaf-reish”, which is to remember --

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: And I don't know nearly enough about Hebrew to say anything real here, but it's like… the ones what do the remembering.

Jaz: Yeah. That is basically exactly right.

Lulav: So, I feel like "remembrancers" is like, fine — 

Jaz: Okay, but they --

Lulav: It sticks out like a sore thumb.

Jaz: It does.

Lulav: But --

Jaz: English does not have that word! (Lulav laughs) Really didn't need to be like, "the remembrancers," when they could have just been like, "the ones who remember."

Lulav: Oh, yeah, "You, the ones who remember the Lord— 

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: "—take no rest. Okay, yeah,

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Okay. Yeah, that's a much better translation. (Jaz laughs) Fine.

Jaz: Bizarre. Anyway.

Lulav: Ooh! Or is it maybe "the ones who remind Hashem"? Because the next line is, "Give no rest to Hashem, until it establishes Yerushalayim and makes her renowned on earth."

Jaz: That's pretty cute. Do you know what word does exist?

Lulav: What?

Jaz: Reminder.

Lulav: "Oh, you, the Lord's reminders, take no rest"! Oh! That just scans so much better.

Jaz: I don't want to be like, the word "remembrancer" doesn't exist, 'cause I actually think it does probably exist. It's just very noticeable. 

Lulav: Uh-huh. If you want to do your own translations of this line, that is Yeshiyahu 62:6.

Jaz: Oh, I found where the word "remembrancer" comes from in English.

Lulav: Oh?

Jaz: It was originally a subordinate officer of the English Exchequer.

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: The office is of great antiquity, the holder having been termed "remembrancer, memorator, rememorator, registrar, keeper of the register, dispatcher of business."

Lulav: Yeah, so there's the guy what does the treasury, and there's the guy what holds the treasury book.

Jaz: Okay, but unless --

Lulav: The remembrancer. (both laugh)

Jaz: Unless they were trying to be like, "this is an exact parallel to this particular niche job in England that doesn't exist anymore…" (Lulav laughs)

Lulav: Good. Anyway, I would just like to say that I like the image of a bunch of people just, like, standing on a wall wearing rainbows and being like, "Hey, G-d! What if society were cooler?"

Jaz: It's a little bit like in… I know New York and probably other places, a group that does a Jericho march.

Lulav: Oh, G-d.

Jaz: And they — no, it's a good thing.

Lulav: Is it? Okay.

Jaz: They just gather once a week, outside of, like, the local immigration office --

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: — and like, march around it seven times. 

Lulav: While blowing trumpets?

Jaz: The time I went, we brought shofars and blew it in front.

Lulav: Hell yeah. (Jaz laughs) Anyway, sorry, my associations with Jericho and walking around things seven times and blowing shofarim is that it was immediately followed by genocide. But --

Jaz: Okay, but this one is like, what if we destroyed ICE? 

Lulav: Prisons and stuff. 

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: Yeah. (Jaz laughs) Great. Love that. Good reclamation.

Jaz: (laughs) Okay, so, then...

Lulav: What's the new swear done by?

Jaz: G-d swears by G-d's right hand and mighty arm: "I won't give your good things, your new grain and stuff, and your new wine, to your enemies."

Lulav: Really sounds like we need some remembrancers to remind G-d of this, because the expropriation of surplus value of labor to bosses has continued.

Jaz: Right? And instead, it's supposed to be those who harvest it shall eat it, and those who gather it shall drink it. Which — you know those things about how the people who get paid tiny amounts of money to harvest cocoa beans have never had chocolate? It's just… yeah.

Lulav: And like, all of the things that are less radically awful than that, that are still radically awful. (laughs) 

Jaz: Right. That was one of the things, though, that I got from my last boss, who, like, I didn't always agree on everything, but I did have a lot of admiration for the way that she was like, no, we will always get fair trade chocolate, or we will not get chocolate. That's a thing for all of our home events, it's going to be a thing for all of our organizational events.  We will get things that pay the people who work on it fairly, or we will not get it. 

Lulav: Yeah, that's fair.

Jaz: Which I had admiration for, that she picks a line and stuck to it.

Lulav: Yeah. Speaking of exonyms, can you read the word that gets repeated at the beginning of 62:10?

Jaz: Yeah. It's "ivru, ivru."

Lulav: Uh-huh. And what does that sound like?

Jaz: It's similar to "ivrit," like, Hebrews. 

Lulav: Yeah. The people of the other side, except for here it is, "pass through, pass through the gates."

Jaz: Yeah. The ones who cross over. It is, like, commanding people to cross over, to pass through.

Lulav: Mm hmm. That's pretty rad.

Jaz: Yeah. A few words here are repeated, like, we have a similar thing with "solu, solu," for example, but yeah, it's like we're told to clear a path, make a road, remove obstacles, etc. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And also, like, announce G-d's coming and your reward with them. 

Lulav: Yeah. There's a lot of communication in this haftarah. 

Jaz: Yeah. Announce it.

Lulav: Not only do you have to act righteously towards other people, you also have to be like, "Hey everybody, we're gonna be really intentional as a community about acting righteously to each other, and that's gonna continue forever, and it's going to be great."

Jaz: It's interesting — at the Shabbat dinner I was at the other night --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: One of the people who I was talking to and really enjoying learning from was a person who had gone to a couple of years of rabbinical school, or maybe just one year, I don't remember --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — and then decided, after spending some time really thinking about it, that actually, she didn't want to be in rabbinical school anymore, and she left school and went into social work, or I guess, went back to social work, and she was telling us about some people she had worked with, where she had accidentally, on a particular day, ended up with an unusually age-mixed group --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — who are all talking about their own mental health journeys, and two of the much younger people were talking about how they wanted to choose to share that on social media, and one person in their 50s was like, "Why would you ever talk about any of this on social media?" And the young people were like, "Well, this is how we choose to share our story, and it's a generational thing," and it didn't sound like that went over super well. The person was like, "Now you're making it a generational thing?" (Lulav laughs) But --

Lulav: I mean, it — it kind of is.

Jaz: Kinda is. But that occurred to me as you were telling this story of, like, the way you communicate about the decisions you're making, and the kind of community you're building also matters. 

Lulav: Yeah. So, I'm of two minds about that, depending on if the Midrash here is that the kids were really in the thick of it, and, you know, externalizing all of the bad thoughts that they were having without any of the B-talk to that --

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: — or if it was like, "hey yeah, I'm having a rough time, and this is where I'm at, and this is the couple of things that keep me going. Can I get some help from people?"

Jaz: Right. Or even differently, like, there has been value sometimes in people who say like, "Hey, I know that I seem like a person who really has stuff together, and also, these are things I struggle with in my personal life as well." 

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Though obviously, you definitely see the inverse, like, I had to mute a handful of different people on my personal Twitter account who I didn't follow but, like, friends did --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — who, I don't know fully what was going on with them, but they were a trans person who was being mean to other trans people for, like, doing transness wrong, or something?

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And then came back a couple weeks later to be like, "Hey, it occurs to me that I have been unnecessarily mean to other trans people as I was kinda going through it and working through my own stuff." And I was like, that seems like good self-reflection, but I also feel really happy continuing to have you muted as you continue to maybe work through your own stuff on your own time.

Lulav: Yeah. There are really the two truths that you hold simultaneously here, of, like, sharing is important, we have to be very clear and intentional about, you know, being better people together, while also being really loud and intentional about stuff can be perverted into just yelling at people, or into being like, we're leftists and so definitely there's no sexual harassment here. 

Jaz: Right. 

Lulav: It really does need to be, like, a sharing that is conscious of the burden that that places on others, and of the intent that's being put into the sharing, I guess. 

Jaz: Right. I wanna remind that my Consolation a couple weeks ago was like, what if you journaled? (Lulav laughs) Instead of needing to share it with strangers sometimes. 

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: What have you put it in the group chat, instead of with strangers, sometimes? (Lulav laughs)

Lulav: Also, cannot recommend highly enough, having, like, a group chat. 

Jaz: Right? Yes, yes. 

Lulav: Just like, a place where you and a couple friends, you know, occasionally will say what's happening, share a fun meme that you know hits the interests of like, one or two other people. It's just nice.

Jaz: Yeah. Anyway, we have this like, "Who is this coming down in crimson garments?" Which is very fun. And this is where we, like, switch over to G-d talking a little bit, being like, "It is I!" (Lulav laughs) And then we switch back to, "Why is your clothing so red? Your garment's like one who treads grapes." Which is very funny, because it's both like, oooh, who's that in the snazzy red dress, and also like, why do you look like you came straight from a tie-dying festival? 

Lulav: All right, I love that. (laughs)

Jaz: It's like, very flirty with G-d, but also a little judgmental, and I enjoy that mixture.

Lulav: Yeah. I'm trying to figure out if the choice of Botzra is important here, and it looks like that's just a town in Edom, the name of which means sheepfold or fortress. 

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: So, probably not, but also, I will note that Edom is like, "the red place." 

Jaz: Yes.

Lulav: And you're coming in crimson garments. 

Jaz: Well, so like, I will say that the root there, potentially --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: — is maybe also related to "tsarah," like, "rival,"  or "in distress."

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: So… it is also possible that it's intended to be like, from a strange place, having had a rough time. 

Lulav: Yeah. That sounds --

Jaz: It is possible that none of those are necessarily implied but given that part of the follow-up in this back and forth conversation is like --

Lulav: Oh.

Jaz: I was all on my own, and I had to step on them in anger and rage, and it stained all my clothing --

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: I think that maybe the distress is a possibility there.

Lulav: Trampling out that vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. 

Jaz: Right.

Lulav: Yeah. And there's an interesting formulation here, phrasing, in line 63:6. "I made them drunk with my rage," and that's a thing that we've seen before in our readings, to make others drunk with your rage.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: And this is in the middle of trampling peoples in your anger and hurling their glory to the ground. 

Jaz: Also a certain amount of, I looked around, and nobody helped me, so I had to fight it out myself. 

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Which is, in some ways, a useful thing to think about, of like, if there were other alternatives, you might not have to actually fight, but if you close off other alternatives --

Lulav: Uh huh.

Jaz: — people turn to the tools they have available to them.

Lulav: I'm trying to figure out what exactly it means to make someone else drunk with your rage, and I'm thinking, bouncing off of the thing that you said about there being no alternative, so you take the alternatives that you can make — people from Minneapolis burned the Minneapolis third precinct down.

Jaz: Uh huh.

Lulav: Baruch Hashem.

Jaz: Uh-huh.

Lulav: And the pearl-clutching response to that, the pearl-clutching response to people, looting a Target that wouldn't let protesters buy supplies for making signs that, you know, constantly surveils the people on that corner. Like, there's just so much pearl-clutching, there's so much closing of minds off, hardening of hearts, and, like, going into this defensive stupor. And maybe that's what it means to make others drunk on your rage --

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: Which sucks, but like, we've talked about this at length over the course of two years when we've discussed the Exodus story.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: You know, sometimes you have to have no ground given between parties, in order to get what one party really needs, instead of just a little vacation.

Jaz: Yeah. And so, we close, then, on this thing about--now it's time to say kind acts, to pivot from looking at the fighting to looking at kindness, and, like, they received things from G-d, and was like, this is my people. When they're troubled, G-d's troubled. And then there's a, like, out of love, G-d helped them out. And that's where we end. 

Lulav: Yeah. In the assumption of children who will not play false, which I think that was a thing in Parshat Nitzavim, of like, okay, you're gonna mess this up, and it's gonna be bad, and whatever, but I think there was kind of this unstated, you could just not do that. You could just, you know, fix it in your minds from the very beginning to do good to each other, and I will give you this chance and assume that you are children who will not play false, who are gonna follow through and hit the Messianic age on the first swing.

Jaz: Awww.

Lulav: And like, of course, you only hit it on, like, the seventh or 213th swing or whatever, but, you know, you gotta assume. You gotta play tit for tat in this iterated prisoner's dilemma, because that's what wins the most overall.

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: And also 'cause it's the right thing to do. (laughs) So, yeah. Do you have any final words about this haftarah?

Jaz: No.

Lulav: That brings us to Rating G-d's Writing, a game where we do not play false, and instead make up the best scales that we can to read the haftarah on. 

Jaz: Yeah. Lulav, out of a tie-dying bucket full of grape juice, (Lulav laughs) how much of a bucket would you rate this haftarah?

Lulav: How much of a bucket… would I rate this haftarah.

Jaz: Yes.

Lulav: Are we talking like a pail, or that kind of plastic things that children build sandcastles with, or… oh, or do I define this?

Jaz: It's just a bucket.

Lulav: It's a bucket. Okay.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: I'm gonna say that this haftarah is totally full, but not so full that it sloshes over the sides. 

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: You might feel like, "Aw, man, they used the word victory a whole bunch, and it seems to be about, like, defeating people, but if you do a really close read, which is to say, if you walk with this bucket, you will notice that the sloshing does not slosh over the sides of the bucket, the way that it would if it were totally totally full. So, the rating that I give this haftarah is a totally full bucket that yet does not rise to the sides.

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: Does that make any sense?

Jaz: Yeah. Little unclear to me how positive it is, but yes.

Lulav: Okay. Oh, that's very positive to be clear. 

Jaz: Okay. 

Lulav: Turns out I like this one a lot. 

Jaz: Great.

Lulav: Jaz, it takes approximately 1204 grapes to make a bottle of wine. How many wrath grapes did you stamp on to make this haftarah?

Jaz: That's so many grapes. 

Lulav: Right? 

Jaz: Well, I am not stamping on that many.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Partially because I'm not so invested in making wine.  (Lulav laughs) Partially because I don't want it to be wrathful.

Lulav: Mmm.

Jaz: I recognize that wrath can be a thing that has its own place, and that you don't want to suppress that as a basic tool of human emotion and a way that people have to be their real selves, but at the same time, I don't know that I'm looking to bring more wrath into the world. 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: So...

Lulav: You prefer June to July.

Jaz: Listen, I'm… mmm. (Lulav laughs) Anyway, but I'm going to say 1000 even, which is more than not, but 1000 grapes.

Lulav: Okay.

Jaz: Out of 1200.

Lulav: That sounds great.

Jaz: Lulav, I believe we have some Consolations for this week. 

Lulav: Yes, Jaz, we do. Would you like to start reading them?

Jaz: These Consolations are separate from the textual Consolations. They are Consolations submitted by our listeners, as things that give them joy and hope for the future. And we're really excited to get to share them with all the rest of you. 

Lulav: Yeah. We've gone back and forth, bringing Consolations for the last six episodes, and, you know, saying things that make us hopeful for the future, hopeful about what we see in the future, and we asked all y'all, over the last couple episodes and on Twitter, to share some of those things that are true for you. And so, way back in July, if I may start off--

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: Our friend Ada recommended that we listen to "Back in the Ring" by Chris Pureka. (song plays in background) And I did, and I was like, "This is a cool song but this is kind of depressing, I guess. What do you like about this?" And she said, "No matter how many times we fall down, and no matter how much we might want to cling to sorrow and live forever in despair, there's someone/something/some existence that remembers to pick us up."

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: And I was like, "Oh, yeah, okay, that totally makes sense now, I love this and will remember to say things about it in a month." (laughs)

Jaz: Yeah. 

(song fades out) 

Jaz: One of the other Consolations we got is a similar vibe.

Lulav: Yeah?

Jaz: It was submitted by a listener named Callum Folthrop. 

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: Are you familiar with the Emily Dickinson poem, "Hope is the Thing With Feathers"?

Lulav: Mmm! How familiar do we mean,, but yes. 

Jaz: Okay, so, for listeners who may have never heard this poem before, it's a relatively famous poem that I'm not looking up here, so I may get a couple of words wrong, but it goes basically: "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all."

Lulav: "And sweetest in the gale is heard, and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm. I've heard it in the chillest land and on the strangest sea, yet never in extremity, it asked a crumb of me." And you know what I did recently hear this, because I watched The Chair, starring Sandra Oh, and her character did very much read this poem on screen. 

Jaz: Okay, so the poem that Callum sent us-- 

Lulav: Yes, sorry. 

Jaz: --is actually a poem by someone called Caitlin Seida, from her book, My Broken Voice, and this poem is called "Hope is Not a Bird, Emily, It's a Sewer Rat."

Lulav: (laughs) Oh, I love that. This is definitely starting off with some of the vibes of our first Consolation episode. (both laugh) 

Jaz: Right? Also, I really appreciate how many of our listeners were like, "Yeah, I'll send poems!" I take full credit for that, and I'm very happy about it. 

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: Thank you, everybody. Anyway. Okay, so this one goes:
"Hope is not the thing with feathers 
that comes home to roost
when you need it most. 
Hope is an ugly thing
with teeth and claws and 
patchy fur that's seen some shit.
It's what thrives in the discards 
and survives in the ugliest parts of our world
able to find a way to go on
when nothing else can even find a way in. 
It's the gritty, nasty little carrier of such diseases as
optimism, persistence, 
perseverance and joy, 
transmissible as it drags its tail across your path 
and bites you in the ass. 
Hope is not some delicate, beautiful bird, Emily
it's a lowly little sewer rat 
that snorts pesticides like they were 
lines of coke and still 
shows up on time to work the next day
looking no worse for wear." 

Lulav: Yeah. That's great.

Jaz: (laughs) Anyway, I think it's got similar vibes to the, like, sometimes it's not great out there. So, you know, it's about having the hope and the persistence and the energy to get back in the ring. 

Lulav: Yeah. That reminds me of a poem that my best friend Theo shared with me. It's the poem, "What Resembles the Grave but Isn't" by Anne Boyer. 

Jaz: Okay.

Lulav: "Always falling into a hole, then saying, 'ok, this is not your grave, get out of this hole,' getting out of the hole which is not the grave, falling into a hole again, saying, 'ok, this is also not your grave, get out of this hole,' getting out of that hole, falling into another one; sometimes falling into a hole within a hole, or many holes within holes, getting out of them one after the other, then falling again, saying, 'this is not your grave, get out of the hole'; sometimes being pushed, saying, 'you cannot push me into this hole, it is not my grave', and getting out defiantly, then falling into a hole again without any pushing; sometimes falling into a set of holes whose structures are predictable, ideological, and long dug, often falling into this set of structural and impersonal holes; sometimes falling into holes with other people, with other people, saying, 'this is not our mass grave, get out of this hole,' all together getting out of the hole together, hands and legs and arms and human ladders of each other to get out of the hole that is not the mass grave but that will only be gotten out of together; sometimes the willful falling into a hole which is not the grave because it is easier than not falling into a hole really, but then once in it, realizing it is not the grave, getting out of the hole eventually; sometimes falling into a hole and languishing there for days, weeks, months, years because, while not the grave, very difficult, still, to climb out of and you know after this hole there's just another and another; sometimes surveying the landscape of holes and wishing for a high quality final hole; sometimes thinking of who is falling into holes which are not graves but might be better if they were; sometimes too ardently contemplating the final hole while trying to avoid the provisional ones; sometimes dutifully falling and getting out with perfect fortitudes and saying, "look at the skill and spirit with which I rise from that which resembles the grave but isn't!" (Jaz laughs, sighs) So, if there's nothing else that you take away from this podcast, though there probably should be, is that the queer Jewish vibes of survival are, you know, being a sewer rat, being like, "Oh no, I fell into a hole, but (sighs) it's not the grave at least." Really reveling in those cool shoes that you found.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: (laughs) And just reminding G-d as loudly as possible, the world can be better. Let's make it that way. 

Jaz: Yes. So, speaking of doing our best, and (Lulav laughs) trying to make things better, we have another Consolation.

Lulav: Mm hmm.

Jaz: And this Consolation was written by one of our listeners and one of our patrons, actually, I think.

Lulav: Mm.

Jaz: Who is a queer trans Jewish poet.

Lulav: Mm!

Jaz: Who, apparently, congratulations, also just got accepted into rabbinical school, which is very exciting.

Lulav: Heck yeah!

Jaz: Hello, future colleague. (Lulav laughs) Anyway. This poem is, I believe, called "Friday Morning Prayers (Shacharit)" by Ian Perry. Goes like this:
"I davened today
for the first time
in probably a year

the dust on my
Reform siddur
mocked me,

as I pulled it
out of a box

You see, I
have been Good—

Donning my
kippah and tallit
wrapping tefillin
each day—but stopping
short of full Shacharit

But today I wanted
So I went for it
Davened the whole

And yes, I feel it
The ruach, the kavanah,
Nourishment! It runs
through me

It is home
inside me

I look down
at my left arm
The dark leather
straps of
tefillin left
loving imprints
in my skin

I love to see them
marks of my
love for Hashem
marks that I am

Look, O Israel:
I am my Beloved’s
Hashem Echad

It’s Friday and
this should be a
poem about Shabbat
But let me have this
Let me start here
I’m on my way
The divots on
my skin guide
me home"

Lulav: Nice.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: I love, like, waking up from a nap and having the imprints of my pillow on my skin, and I can only imagine how wonderful that is when it's, like, intentional, and from tefillin?

Jaz: You've never --?

Lulav: I've never wrapped.

Jaz: — laid tefillin.

Lulav: Laid? Laid. I've never laid tefillin, no.

Jaz: Wrapped tefillin is fine, also, don't --

Lulav: Okay. (laughs) We're all speaking in translations of translations. But yeah, I definitely appropriated some aspects of laying tefillin, of just, like, wrapping something around my arm when I'm davening on Friday, but I haven't ever, you know, made a regular practice of davening schaharit, for example.

Jaz: Mm hmm.

Lulav: So I haven't quite had that experience of the nice leather straps and the things against your hand and your forehead.

Jaz: Yeah.

Lulav: And that does sound beautiful. And we also have a Twitter reply, which is from @froggybulbes, display name Keshit the Clown, and they say, "I am going on a very exciting walk in the forest on Sunday to talk about queer Jewish history and the partisans, while we learn about fungi and plants that kept our ancestors alive," and Keshit is from Berlin, so it's like, much closer to talking about partisans and the fungi and plants that kept ancestors alive than I was initially thinking as I read that?

Jaz: Mmm.

Lulav: So yeah, I really hope that your walk goes well, and if you wanna just like, at us in pictures of the fungi that you find, that sounds great.

Jaz: So, it's a really nice compilation of Consolations that folks sent in, and I feel really lucky to have seen them, you know, to see the things that inspire us to hope in the future, and visions for a better world.

Lulav: Yeah.

Jaz: And on that note...

Lulav: Jaz, can you take us to the close?

Jaz: Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers. If you like what you've heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can't commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at Find out more information about our podcast, including bios for our team and links to our social media, at Also, please spread the word about Kosher Queers. Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross. Our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can find on Bandcamp. Go buy their albums, they're great. Our sound production this week is done by my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow.

Lulav: Well... Thanks to Jaz Twersky and to JJ Jensen, who, together, make sure that every episode gets transcribed. You can find JJ @pantspossum on Twitter, and you can find the link to the transcripts that JJ writes and Jaz proofreads in our episode descriptions at

Jaz: I'm Jaz Twersky, and I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Massachusett people.

Lulav: I'm Lulav Arnow, and you can send me beautiful pictures of edible fungi @palmliker on Twitter. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute Dakota. Have a lovely queer Jewish day.

(Brivele outro)

Jaz: This week's gender is: the gender formerly known as Prince.

Lulav: This week's pronouns are: (makes weird noises), also known as Love Symbol #2.