The aishes chayil, woman of valor, and her prominent role in the Jewish home is clearly celebrated in this week’s parsha. The Jewish woman – the unique soul, the supportive wife, and the nurturing mother is compared by King David, the psalmist to the blessed grapevine. The aishes chayil works tirelessly to make her home sacred and special, and, through her toil, she creates the environment that shapes the destiny of her home and future generations. Truly, she toils and reaps the fruits of her labor.
Toil is an ingredient for success. In every endeavor, effort is the harbinger for success. Within the context of the Jewish home, these labors of love are the duties of the noble mother and wife who merits being the conduit for bracha – blessing – in her home.
Rabbi Chelba states (Talmud, Bava Metziah 59A) that one must be cautious to honor his wife, for the blessings in a man’s home are attributed to his wife. The source for Rabbi Chelba’s statement is in this week’s parsha, U’lAvraham heitiv baavurah, and Abraham was treated well (by Pharoah) for her (Sarah’s) sake. Abraham received royally lavish gifts of sheep, cattle, donkeys and servants from Pharoah because of Sarah. Indeed, Abraham was blessed in the merit of his wife (12,16).
The Hebrew word, bracha, blessing, is derived from breicha, spring, for the Almighty graciously and generously showers a never ending well-spring of blessing upon mankind. And while the actual source of these blessings is Divine, the conduit for the blessings in the Jewish home is the woman of the house.
The dedication and selflessness of the Jewish mother is unparalleled. In our fast-paced, 21st-century society mothers lead exceedingly hectic lives – perhaps more hectic than at any other time in our history. Whether professional or stay-at-home, the Jewish mother juggles multiple jobs, tasks, and responsibilities that begin and end each day, and are planned through the lens of her family’s spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. She manages a household and plans, prepares and serves gourmet meals; supervises the completion of homework assignments; provides a listening ear and doses of encouragement; shuttles precious cargo to and from school, and so many other activities; and she volunteers for school functions, communal initiatives and more.
Her dedication is astounding and her accomplishments are immeasurable. Is it a wonder that the Talmud credits her with bringing G-d’s manifold blessings into her home?
Rabbi Simcha Dessler is menahel / education director of Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights.