Eshet Chayil – Natural Respect
“Her children arise and praise her, her husband, and he lauds her.”
I have risen for rabbis, teachers, honored leaders, and my parents all my life. Most of the time I stood up as I was supposed to. There were a few times in my life when I naturally stood, not as an obligation, in honor of a person by virtue of who he or she was or had done. I have stood up in middle of teaching a class to honor an insight or question from one of my students. The times I rose as a natural response remain permanently etched in my mind as they have so much more meaning than rising pro-forma. I remember rising before Mr Altman z”l in St Louis, and Martha Cohen a”h in Lincoln Square Synagogue. I stood up when my father zt’l entered a room, not because I was obligated, but because his bearing and greatness demanded that I rise before him.
I have always read this verse as focusing on the Woman of Valor’s children and husband rising in her honor, not on their praises. I picture a woman who has so much natural dignity that people cannot help but rise before her to honor her.
I believe that I would have stood whenever my father entered a room even if not obligated to rise before a father and rebbi, but the Mitzvah changed my rising into standing for God’s honor, for God’s commandment. The Mitzvah added a deeper dimension to the simple act of rising before my father.
This verse adds a similar dimension to a husband and children rising in honor of the Eishet Chayil. They rise not only in honor of this great Woman of Valor; they rise before all that she represents, all that was described in the earlier verses. We rise before the Woman of Valor and honor, not only her, but the eternal values she embodies.