My friend Bear Bergman has brought my attention to a rather interesting poem by Qalonymos ben Qalonymos – a Hebrew writer and translator living in Spain, ca. 1322. I offer no commentary of my own, but rather leave that job to you.
Translation by (I think) Tova Rosen:
Our Father in Heaven!
You who did miracles to our fathers by fire and water;
you who turned [the furnace] in Ur of the Chaldees [cold] to stop it from burning [Abraham];
you who turned Dinah in her mother’s womb [into a girl];
you who turned the rod [of Moses] into a serpent in front of tens of thousands;
you who turned [Moses’] pure arm into a [leper’s] white arm;
you who turned the Red Sea into land, and the sea floor into solid and dried-up earth;
you who turned the rock into a lake, the cliff into a fountain
– if only you would turn me from male to female!
If only I were worthy of this grace of yours,
I could have now been the lady of the house, exempt from military service!
Why cry and be bitter if my Father in Heaven so decreed and crippled me with this immutable, irremovable defect?
Worrying about the impossible is [indeed] an incurable pain for which no empty consolation will help.
I keep telling myself, “I shall bear and suffer until I die.”
But since I have learned from oral tradition that
“one should bless [God] for the good as well as for the bad,”
I bless Him meekly, with a faint voice:
Blessed art Thou who did not make me a woman!
It’s Tova Rosen’s translation, all right. Her article on this poem is “Circumcised Cinderella: The Fantasies of a Fourteenth-Century Jewish Author,” Prooftexts, 20:1 (January 2000). It was later included as the last chapter of her book, Unveiling Eve: Reading Gender in Medieval Hebrew Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003).
The first part of the article is online at http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-28019758_ITM
Now you know!
I’m sorry, but K b. K didn’t live in Spain at all. Kalonymus is a very Ashkenazi name, and our friend here is no exception. The poem is from sefer even bohan.