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Eishes Chayil - Ancient Wisdom for Women of Today

By: Shira Hochheimer

"Despite my knowing all the words to the poem, I thought that the Eishes Chayil was demure and gentle, a woman with a perpetual smile, a starched apron, a warm cake in one hand, and a Tehillim in the other. I thought that the Eishes Chayil would spend most of her time engaged in house work, child care or meditative practice. I assumed that the family of the Eishes Chayil would look nothing like mine and would be remarkably sensitive, calm and learned. In a few words, the Eishes Chayil, while praiseworthy and awe-inspiring, was someone I would never want to spend time with.

But I was wrong. The Eishes Chayil described in the verses - and our sources - looks nothing like the image I had painted in my head. As we will discover as we explore the verses of the poem line by line, the Eishes Chayil is no pushover. She is humble, strong, decisive, nurturing and lives with faith. She is someone we would all enjoy spending time with - as well as someone who we could strive to become."

Adapted from the Introduction

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