What Does A Woman of Valor Really Want?



Eishet Chayil (A Woman of Valor)

A Jew sings Eishet Chayil (A Woman of Valor) every Shabbos night.

My husband, Heshie, sang the song of Eishet Chayil to me at our wedding.  I think that was the first time I ever really heard it.

But I really did not understand what he was saying. It was only as we were together that I began to look at Proverb 31 as more than the song sung at the Shabbos table.


From the words, it is clear that a woman of valor is like superwoman, able to do everything and to do it well. The Eishet Chayil is the perfect woman who is the foundation of her home. She is never lazy. She is industrious, financially successful, reliable, trustworthy, resourceful, kind, wise, a helpmate, and everything else that is good. The Eishet Chayil even does the laundry and the cooking and she is an accomplished business woman as well.

She works at the physical world and that expands her spiritually.


Most of the women I know do their best to strive in the direction of valor and each can surely be identified as an Eishet Chayil.  The fact these noble qualities are manifested in the form of a woman is in itself a clue about the potential within each of us.


What brings out that potential for valor? What makes it possible?

I believe that for anything to be possible we first have to know what we want.


A story ( adapted and changed from a story I heard in my coach training journey)


What Does A Woman of Valor Really Want?


In the Jewish month of Tishrei the young King Liron, was captured and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch was about to kill him but when the king smiled at the ruler and showed great warmth despite what he was about to do, the ruler had second thoughts. So instead of cutting off his head, the ruler offered him freedom.  -  with one condition  - that he could answer a very difficult question.


The ruler will give King Liron one year to figure out the answer. If, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be killed.


What was the question?  He wanted to know "What does a woman of valor really want?"

Now, such a question would have perplexed even the most knowledgeable Yid. But to the young Liron, it seemed an impossible query. However, since it was preferable to death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by the end of the month of Elul, a year from that time.


King Liron returned to his kingdom and began to interview everybody; the princess, the cooks, the rabbis, the wise men, the court jester and even the children in the palace. He spoke with everyone but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.


The only clue, or piece of advice, that he got was to consult the old machasheifa (ugly witch) who lived in the shtetl (town).  People told him that she is the only one who would know the answer. They added that she is an expert hondler (bargainer). And so the price would be quite exorbitant as the machasheifa was famous for.


It was already Elul, the end of the Jewish year, and poor King Liron had no alternative but to talk to the machasheifa. He had a horse and carriage drawn. It stopped in front of her door and the king's men knocked. The machasheifa came to the door and the kings men assisted the king into the machasheifa's dingy hovel.  He explained to her his plight. The machasheifa agreed to answer his question. But, as he was warned, he'd have to accept her price. 


What was her price? The old machasheifa wanted to marry the king's closest friend, Amichai who was the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table. The young king was horrified. The machasheifa was hunchbacked and totally hideous. She had only one tooth, her skin tone had many shades of blue and red, her eyes slanted in different directions. She smelled like a sewer and often made obscene noises. He had never run across such a repugnant creature. He just would not force his friend to marry her and to have to endure such tsoris (suffering).


Word got to Amichai about the proposal. He immediately traveled to the palace to speak with the king. When the king explained that he would not hear of it, he reminded the king of what a good friend he has been to him. Nothing was too big a sacrifice for Amichai compared to the king's life and the preservation of the Round Table.


And so, the wedding was planned. It was to be a huge simcha (celebration).


Now, the machasheifa answered the king's question. What does a woman of valor really want?


"What a woman really wants is to be the person she really is and to be understood that way."


Ooohs and Ahhhs were expressed by the crowd. Every person instantly knew that the machasheifa had articulated a profound truth and that the king's life would be spared. So it happened. The neighboring monarch gobbled up the answer and spared the king's life. The king was granted full freedom and the promise of never being captured again.


What a wedding Amichai and the machasheifa had! The king was torn between relief and anguish. Amichai was proper as always, gentle and courteous. Despite Amichai's  gentle ways, the old machasheifa put her worst manners on display. She ate with her hands, used her sleeves as her napkin, belched and passed gas. She made everyone uncomfortable.


The wedding night was here.  Amichai, girded himself in preparation for a horrific night. He entered the bedroom with his eyes almost closed in fear of the horror that awaited him. When he opened his eyes what a sight was before him. It was the most beautiful woman he'd ever rested his eyes upon. Astounded, Amichai asked what happened.


The beautiful one replied that since he had been so kind to her when she'd been a machasheifa, from now on, half the time she would be her hideous, deformed self. And the other half, she would be her beautiful Eishet Chayil self. She then asked, "Which would you want me to be during the day and which during the night? The choice was his. It was almost cruel to ask such a tough question!


Amichai thought about his dilemma. He could have during the day, a beautiful Eishet Chayil to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old spooky machasheifa. Or he could choose having by day a hideous machasheifa, but by night a beautiful Eishet Chayil to enjoy many intimate moments.


So what did he choose? What would you advise? What would you choose? Please decide before reading on. I will wait for you.


The Righteous Amichai answered that he would let her choose for herself who she wants to be. He would want her to be who she really is and that he will seek to understand and acknowledge her in that way.


Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be the beautiful Eishet Chayil all the time, because he had respected her and had encouraged her be who she really is.


The gentleness, understanding, and acceptance that Amichai gave his new wife brought out her Eishet Chayil self.


What an Eishet Chayil really wants is to be her authentic self and to be understood that way.


When a person is free of misunderstanding, of judgment, and experiences love for whom she really is, she has the greatest potential to be her true Eishet Chayil self, a Woman of Valor.


Copyright ©2009 Chana Klein



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