Eshet Khayil (A woman of valor)

I have noticed that this particular song really pushes my buttons, and that I have found it impossible to leave it alone where I find it. Instead of tying up the reviews, I thought I'd present the song and let you make up your own mind.

(I am using the new translation by the Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982): Proverbs, 31:

What a rare find is a capable wife!
Her worth is far beyond that of rubies;

Her husband puts his confidence in her,
and lacks no good thing.

She is good to him, never bad,
all the days of her life.


She rises while it is still night,
And supplies provisions for her household
The daily fare of her maids.


Her husband is prominent in the gates,
As he sits among the elders of the land.


She oversees the activities of her household
and never eats the bread of idleness

Her children declare her happy;
Her husband praises her,

"Many woman have done well,
but you surpass them all."

Grace is deceptive,
beauty is illusory;
It is for her fear of the LORD
That a woman is to be praised.

Extol her for the fruit of her hand,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

I just a have a bit of trouble with the implication that a woman is defined by her devotion to her owner, er, her husband--not to mention the über-husband, G-d--and that she is clearly pegged with never-ending labors while, in this ideal state, he is able to hang out all day with the 'elders.' By me, this is not the egalitarian sharing of responsibility it could be. And, although I do not deny the love with which I have heard the prayer derived from this chapter said, it gives me the creeps.

Klezmer pages aren't the place to talk about what makes an egalitarian, sharing relationship. It has always occurred to me, however, that a relationship in which one is defined by her service to the other is, by definition, not egalitarian. That may not matter to you. I can only serve notice that to me it does. Feel free to let me know your feelings on this subject by sending e-mail. Last revised 05 October, 2004..


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Contents copyright © 1995 by Ari Davidow. Send me E-mail with any comments or suggestions. All rights reserved. Page last revised 05 October, 2004.