Eshet Chayil – The Traveller
“She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.”
I’m tempted to say that the best way to understand this verse is to marry an Argentine. My life has been enriched by an entirely new way of seeing the world. I have learned to eat the strangest foods, speak more languages, practice “Programa Chino,” drive with abandon and no respect for traffic signs, and express all emotions with uninhibited passion.
However, Abraham did not marry someone from Latin America; he married his niece, so, although Argentines believe that, just as God is Argentine, so too all the biblical characters, at least the good ones, were Argentine, I cannot explain the verse as tempted.
We can understand why Abraham would describe Sarah as a merchant ship because she willingly accompanied him on all his extensive travels. Why would he say that, “She brings her bread from afar?” Do we ever read of Sarah bringing food from a distant place?
Why would Abraham compare Sarah to a merchant ship rather than a caravan? Sarah is never recorded as having sailed the Seven Seas.
The Midrash compares this world to the earth, and the World to Come as the Sea. When Abraham speaks of Sarah as a merchant ship, he is describing her as a traveller in the World to Come, or, as expressed by the Rekanati, “Living a life of the World to Come while on this world.” (Introduction to Meiah Shearim)
Sarah lived with constant awareness of the eternal implications of everything she did. She never focused on her immediate needs, but on their eternal value for the Jewish people. Her influence extends to us, long after her life on this world, which is why the portion of her death is named the “Lifetimes of Sarah.” she feeds us our spiritual sustenance from her great distance in time.
Our Eshet Chayil also lives as a merchant ship, a traveller in the infinite realms of the World to Come. She grabs inspiration and insight from places far away from her family’s mundane existence to infuse them with a sense of the eternal.
I guess you actually can say that she is Argentine in the best sense of the word!