Chapter 31

1The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, with which his mother admonished him:

אדִּבְרֵי לְמוּאֵל מֶלֶךְ מַשָּׂא אֲ‍שֶׁר־יִסְּרַתּוּ אִמּוֹ׃

2No, my son! No, O son of my womb! No, O son of my vows!

במַה־בְּרִי וּמַה־בַּר־בִּטְנִי וּמֶה בַּר־נְדָרָי׃

3Do not give your strength to women, Your vigor, to those who destroy kings.

גאַל־תִּתֵּן לַנָּשִׁים חֵילֶךָ וּדְרָכֶיךָ לַמְחוֹת מְלָכִין׃

4Wine is not for kings, O Lemuel; Not for kings to drink, Nor any strong drink for princes,

דאַל לַמְלָכִים לְמוֹאֵל אַל לַמְלָכִים שְׁתוֹ־יָיִן וּלְרוֹזְנִים או [אֵי] שֵׁכָר׃

5Lest they drink and forget what has been ordained, And infringe on the rights of the poor.

הפֶּן־יִשְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּח מְחֻקָּק וִישַׁנֶּה דִּין כָּל־בְּנֵי־עֹנִי׃

6Give strong drink to the hapless And wine to the embittered.

ותְּנוּ־שֵׁכָר לְאוֹבֵד וְיַיִן לְמָרֵי נָפֶשׁ׃

7Let them drink and forget their poverty, And put their troubles out of mind.

זיִשְׁתֶּה וְיִשְׁכַּח רִישׁוֹ וַעֲמָלוֹ לֹא יִזְכָּר־עוֹד׃

8Speak up for the dumb, For the rights of all the unfortunate.

חפְּתַח־פִּיךָ לְאִלֵּם אֶל־דִּין כָּל־בְּנֵי חֲלוֹף׃

9Speak up, judge righteously, Champion the poor and the needy.

טפְּתַח־פִּיךָ שְׁפָט־צֶדֶק וְדִין עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן׃

10What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.

AY-shet KHA-yil MEE yim-TZA v'-ra-KHOK mi-p'-nee-NEEM mikh-RAH

יאֵשֶׁת־חַיִל מִי יִמְצָא וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָהּ׃

 31:10   A capable wife

This chapter contains an extended poem in praise of the eishet chayil, translated here as ‘capable wife,’ but generally referred to as the ‘woman of valor’ (verses 10-31). She provides for her family in all ways, both materially and spiritually, and her endeavors and accomplishments are praised by the members of her household and by others. This poem is sung by Jews around the world on Friday nights, as they begin the first Shabbat meal. It is often understood as a praise for the Jewish woman who works hard to care for her family and for others, and to prepare for the Shabbat each week. On a more mystical plane, it has been said in the name of the sixteenth century Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, who is known by the acronym Arizal, that “the Land of Israel is the earthly manifestation of the woman of valor.” When the Children of Israel follow Hashem faithfully in this unique land, they are provided for, both materially and spiritually. And, the beauty and charm of Eretz Yisrael are recognized and praised by all, Jews and non-Jews alike.

11Her husband puts his confidence in her, And lacks no good thing.

יאבָּטַח בָּהּ לֵב בַּעְלָהּ וְשָׁלָל לֹא יֶחְסָר׃

12She is good to him, never bad, All the days of her life.

יבגְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב וְלֹא־רָע כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיה׃

13She looks for wool and flax, And sets her hand to them with a will.

יגדָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיהָ׃

14She is like a merchant fleet, Bringing her food from afar.

ידהָיְתָה כָּאֳנִיּוֹת סוֹחֵר מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבִיא לַחְמָהּ׃

15She rises while it is still night, And supplies provisions for her household, The daily fare of her maids.

טווַתָּקָם בְּעוֹד לַיְלָה וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ וְחֹק לְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ׃

16She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it; She plants a vineyard by her own labors.

טזזָמְמָה שָׂדֶה וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ נטע [נָטְעָה] כָּרֶם׃

17She girds herself with strength, And performs her tasks with vigor.

יזחָגְרָה בְעוֹז מָתְנֶיהָ וַתְּאַמֵּץ זְרֹעוֹתֶיהָ׃

18She sees that her business thrives; Her lamp never goes out at night.

יחטָעֲמָה כִּי־טוֹב סַחְרָהּ לֹא־יִכְבֶּה בליל [בַלַּיְלָה] נֵרָהּ׃

19She sets her hand to the distaff; Her fingers work the spindle.

יטיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישׁוֹר וְכַפֶּיהָ תָּמְכוּ פָלֶךְ׃

20She gives generously to the poor; Her hands are stretched out to the needy.

ככַּפָּהּ פָּרְשָׂה לֶעָנִי וְיָדֶיהָ שִׁלְּחָה לָאֶבְיוֹן׃

21She is not worried for her household because of snow, For her whole household is dressed in crimson.

כאלֹא־תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג כִּי כָל־בֵּיתָהּ לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִים׃

22She makes covers for herself; Her clothing is linen and purple.

כבמַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה־לָּהּ שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ׃

23Her husband is prominent in the gates, As he sits among the elders of the land.

כגנוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ בְּשִׁבְתּוֹ עִם־זִקְנֵי־אָרֶץ׃

24She makes cloth and sells it, And offers a girdle to the merchant.

כדסָדִין עָשְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּר וַחֲגוֹר נָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי׃

25She is clothed with strength and splendor; She looks to the future cheerfully.

כהעֹז־וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ וַתִּשְׂחַק לְיוֹם אַחֲרוֹן׃

26Her mouth is full of wisdom, Her tongue with kindly teaching.

כופִּיהָ פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה וְתוֹרַת־חֶסֶד עַל־לְשׁוֹנָהּ׃

27She oversees the activities of her household And never eats the bread of idleness.

כזצוֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכוֹת בֵּיתָהּ וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת לֹא תֹאכֵל׃

28Her children declare her happy; Her husband praises her,

כחקָמוּ בָנֶיהָ וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ בַּעְלָהּ וַיְהַלְלָהּ׃

29“Many women have done well, But you surpass them all.”

כטרַבּוֹת בָּנוֹת עָשׂוּ חָיִל וְאַתְּ עָלִית עַל־כֻּלָּנָה׃

30Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of Hashem That a woman is to be praised.

לשֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת־יְהֹוָה הִיא תִתְהַלָּל׃

31Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates.

לאתְּנוּ־לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ׃