Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Miss Bingley and the Beit Hamikdash

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE CHAPTER 11:

Soon afterwards [Miss Bingley] got up and walked about the room. Her figure was elegant, and she walked well; -- but Darcy, at whom it was all aimed, was still inflexibly studious. In the desperation of her feelings she resolved on one effort more; and turning to Elizabeth, said,

``Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.''

Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their chusing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. ``What could he mean? she was dying to know what could be his meaning'' -- and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him?

``Not at all,'' was her answer; ``but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask nothing about it.''
Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in any thing, and persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.

``I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,'' said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ``You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; -- if the first, I should be completely in your way; -- and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.''

``Oh! shocking!'' cried Miss Bingley. ``I never heard any thing so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?''

TALMUD BAVLI YOMA 9b:

Why was the first temple destroyed? As punishment for three sins committed by the children of Israel.

[...]

As for the sin of improper sexual conduct – what was it?

As it is written: "Because the daughters of Zion are so vain, and walk with their heads thrown back, with roving eyes, and with mincing gait, making a tinkling with their feet" (Isaiah 3:16).

Because the daughters of Zion are so vain – A taller woman would deliberately position herself next to a shorter woman so that she herself would appear even taller.

And walk with their heads thrown back – They would walk with straightened posture.

With roving eyes – They would wear blue eye make-up so their eyes would look larger.

With mincing gait – They would take small steps, walking heel-to-ankle, so as to attract the men around them.

Making a tinkling of their feet – They would lodge perfume between their toes and kick up their feet whenever an attractive man passed by, thereby infecting him with the evil eye, like cunning vipers.

* * *

"I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire
And the ashes
Of the burning temple."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Salome said...

I love that passage! I've often said to a fellow JA-lover at kiddush, "Let's take a turn about the room," more for seeing whether anyone interesting was present, rather than showing ourselves off.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Philipos said...

The rabbis never miss an opportunity to slander women. How dare they joke, if it is a joke, that women are responsible for the destruction of the temple? What is so wrong with a single woman showing off her figure to a man in want of a wife? JA is laughing at Miss Bingley but isn't calling her wicked. And the sexual tension between E and D eventually leads to a happy and monogamous marriage, so what are the rabbis whining about? Grrr, bring on the egaliterrorist.

12:53 PM  

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