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Why do we recite the Aishet Chayil ("A Woman of Valor...") on Friday Night?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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After the Shalom Aleichem, it is customary to recite the Aishet Chayil, a twenty-two verse poem with which King Solomon concludes the book of Proverbs, praising the wise, G-d-fearing woman. According to the Midrash, this ode was originally composed by our Patriarch Abraham, written as a eulogy when his wife Sarah passed away. At the conclusion of the week, it is incumbent upon a man to take a moment to reflect and be thankful for all his wife has done for him and the entire household throughout the past week.


According to the mystical teachings, this poem is also a reference to the “Shabbat Queen,” the spiritual soul-mate of the Jewish nation.


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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Sarah
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
Solomon
Son of King David, and succeeded him on the throne of Israel in the year 836 BCE. he was the wisest man to ever live. He built the first Holy Temple and authored several books of the Bible.
Proverbs
One of the 24 books of the Bible. A collection of moral writings authored by King Solomon.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.