Posts Tagged 'Eshet Hayil.'

A Woman of Valor

When I graduated college I went to Minsk, Belarus to run youth services for the Jewish community there. Besides my work with the young Jews I also had regular contact with a group of elder men who made up the daily minyan. I vividly remember one day when one of these old men named Feyvel came up to me after services with a black and white photo of a young woman. He started to tell me that this was his wife. She had passed away. When I asked him to tell me what he missed most about her he responded that she was an Eshet Ḥayilwoman of valor. I started to go through Proverbs 31.

Traditionally Eshet Ḥayil is sung on Friday night. It praises the good wife who is the definition of the ideal woman in the nation of Israel. She is ‘an industrious housewife, a shrewd businesswoman, an enterprising trader, a generous benefactor (verse 20) and a wise teacher (verse 26). This “Woman of Valor” has been described as the personification of wisdom.

The word חיל (Ḥayil) appears in verses 10 and 29 of the passage, thought as the summary of the good woman’s character. Traditionally it has been translated “virtuous” or “noble”. Some scholars have suggested that it rather means “forceful”, “mighty”, or “valiant”, because this word is almost exclusively used in the Bible with reference to warfare. Which is funny because as it turned out Feyvel wanted to clarify want to clarify that she was not just an Eshet Ḥayil– but also an Eshet Ḥayal– his wife was a soldier. At that moment I noticed that his wife was dressed in uniform.

Soviet women in World War II - Wikipedia

Today is Veteran’s Day– we pause to give respect for the people of valor who serve our communities to protect our ideals.


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