Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Library: The Disagreeable Mr. Knox

Not being a particular student of the Christian religion, I had never encountered this until recently:
For who can deny that it is repugnant to nature that the blind shall be appointed to lead and conduct such as to see, that the weak, the sick and the impotent shall nourish and keep the whole and the strong, and, finally, that the foolish, mad, and frenetic shall govern the discrete and give counsel to such as be sober of mind? And such be all women compared to man in bearing of authority.

- John Knox, ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’

Alas, that I had encountered this text and sentiment, still thriving, and one of many many reasons why I left off praying with Orthodox minyanim:
There is no more proper woman than she who does the will of her master [husband] and tries not to be repulsive to her master. It is not fitting to a woman to be proud, and also she should not anger. The path of the woman is that she sits within her house, and also she is obligated to prevent that suspicion should grow. It is not fitting for her to have speech with all men, to laugh among young men; this causes much talk.

- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch

But I much prefer:
B 2:18-23: And God the Ruler of Hosts said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I shall make for him a helpmeet as an adversary… And the man said names to all the beasts, to the birds of the heavens, and to all that lived in the field, and the man did not bring forth a helpmeet as an adversary. And God the Ruler of Hosts made sleep to fall on the man and he slept. And the Creator took one of his ribs and closed flesh on it. God the Ruler of Hosts built the rib that he took from the man into a woman, and God took her to the man.

B 1:26-27 And God said ‘We shall make humans in Our image, like unto Our blood, and they shall rule… And the Eternal created humankind in God’s image, in the image of the Holy One God created the human: male and female God created them.

This is the textual root of religious equality for me. If all are created in the Divine image, then we all approach the Holy with equal humility. The arguments of male commentators throughout the centuries, that it would embarass the community were a woman to read Torah as well as the men- that the ability to pray in certain ways is a responsibility that women may not assume- I eventually began to find it creepily similar to working in the sciences. For me, it seemed a disturbing veneer of sophism covering deep well of privilege and exclusion.

Also, happy Hanukkah; may the Temple not be rebuilt. Ever.


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Amen. And happy Hanukkah to you, JF!

  2. And now I know the origin of the title of the Terry Pratchett book -- "Monstrous Regiment" which is about a regiment of women disguised as men and very funny.

  3. Anonymous3:47 PM

    Happy Hanukkah to you to my friend. We celebrate Winter solstice in Friday, it seems to fit in best with our true beliefs, our belief in nature.


Comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two to show up. Anonymous comments will be deleted.