Eshet Chayil – Living Each Day
“She rises while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and a portion to her maidens.”
The Midrash offers a shocking description of how this verse applies to Sarah: She rose early with Abraham when he woke up early to go to the Binding of Isaac! The Midrash describes Sarah as an active participant in the preparations for the Akeidah!
“And gives food to her household,” describes how Sarah cared for Abraham and all the males in the household after their circumcisions.
“And a portion to her maidens,” is compared to the seven maidens of Esther, one for each day of the week, in other words; Sarah never functioned as in a program, but was always focused on the specific demands of each day and situation. That is how she could live with Abraham whose life was a constant challenge, a series of intense tests and events. Abraham is telling us that he succeeded because he was married to such a woman.
Although Abraham is often compared and contrasted with Job, it seems that the key failure of Job was that he was not a Sarah: “A man there had been in the land of Uz — Job his name — and that man had been perfect and upright — both fearing God, and turning aside from evil. And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters, and his substance was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred pairs of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and a service very abundant; and that man is greater than any of the sons of the east. And his sons have gone and made a banquet — the house of each in his day — and have sent and called to their three sisters to eat and to drink with them; and it came to pass, when they have gone round the days of the banquet, that Job did send and sanctify them, and has risen early in the morning, and caused to ascend burnt-offerings — the number of them all — for Job said, ‘Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their heart.’ Thus did Job all the days.”
Job lived and allowed his children to live a programed life: A different party each day of the week, culminating in an offering to protect them if they had sinned. The sons pretended that their lives were not predictable; they sent an invitation to their sisters for each party, as if it was a surprise or special event. Job did what he was supposed to do, but there was no sense of Sarah’s commitment to never live one day as she lived the day before.
Sarah was prepared for anything and everything: The life change of Brot Milah, and even offering her son to God!
The Eishet Chayil wakes up early each day with a sense of expectation of all the new possibilities offered by this specific day. Her sense of expectation imbues her entire household with the same belief in the unique possibilities of every single day of life.