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Woman of Valor

Woman of Valor / Esheth Hayil

אֵשֶׁת חַיִל מִי יִמְצָא וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָהּ. בָּטַח בָּהּ לֵב בַּעְלָהּ וְשָׁלָל לֹא יֶחְסָר. גְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב וְלֹא רָע כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיהָ. דָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיה. הָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיּוֹת סוֹחֵר מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבִיא לַחְמָהּ. וַתָּקָם בְּעוֹד לַיְלָה וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ וְחֹק לְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ. זָמְמָה שָׂדֶה וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ נָטְעָה כָּרֶם. חָגְרָה בְעוֹז מָתְנֶיהָ וַתְּאַמֵּץ זְרוֹעֹתֶיהָ. טָעֲמָה כִּי טוֹב סַחְרָהּ לֹא יִכְבֶּה בַלַּיְלָה נֵרָהּ. יָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישׁוֹר וְכַפֶּיהָ תָּמְכוּ פָלֶךְ. כַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָׂה לֶעָנִי וְיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה לָאֶבְיוֹן. לֹא תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג כִּי כָל בֵּיתָהּ לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִים. מַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ. נוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ בְּשִׁבְתּוֹ עִם זִקְנֵי אָרֶץ. סָדִין עָשְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּר וַחֲגוֹר נָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי. עוֹז וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ וַתִּשְׂחַק לְיוֹם אַחֲרוֹן. פִּיהָ פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה וְתוֹרַת חֶסֶד עַל לְשׁוֹנָהּ. צוֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכוֹת בֵּיתָהּ וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת לֹא תֹאכֵל. קָמוּ בָנֶיהָ וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ בַּעְלָהּ וַיְהַלְלָהּ. רַבּוֹת בָּנוֹת עָשׂוּ חָיִל וְאַתְּ עָלִית עַל כֻּלָּנָה. שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת ה' הִיא תִתְהַלָּל. תְּנוּ לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ.


Explanation For The blessing

Woman of Valor / Eisheth Hayil (Proverbs 31) is a praise of the Hebrew woman, composed by King Solomon. The song describes the "virtuous woman", listing all her merits… "She will do him good, not evil – bringeth her food from afar…"etc. In verse 29, King Solomon writes that "Many daughters have done virtuously". If so, why does the song begin with "Who can find a virtuous woman"? The answer is that "many daughters" excel in something, but "[w]ho can find" a woman who is all virtue?

Another interpretation is that men meet all sorts of women in different situations and each sees the valor differently. There are many women, but a husband sings "Who will find a virtuous woman?" I found you, he says, and there is no one else but you.

The song is written in alphabetical order and describes the ideal (perfect) woman

There are various interpretations of the song, the author's intent and the identity of the woman in the song. Among these are:

a) A certain unknown woman.

b) Various women in the scriptures: Ruth the Moabite, Sarah our mother and Bathsheba.

c) The ideal (perfect) woman.

d) Shabbat the Queen

e) Our Sacred Torah.

Every Shabbat eve, time stands still – all the family members rise and express their respect for the "Virtuous Woman". For 450 years, the song has been sung on the Shabbat eve before the meal. This beautiful custom was accepted throughout the Jewish Diaspora. The husband sings it for his "virtuous woman", in appreciation of all her hard work and in gratitude of her preparations for the Shabbat.

Isaac Luria noted that the song refers to the relations between the People of Israel and the Divine Spirit, instructing us to think of our Sacred Torah as the "virtuous woman" of every Jew. Of course, the song also alludes to our "virtuous" sacred Shabbat the Queen. Therefore, even a woman who is alone on Shabbat should sing the song. Esheth Hayil is also used to describe a diligent woman – a mother, a wife or an active public figure.

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