In Loco Eshes Chayil, by Danny Siegel | Congregation Beth Am

In Loco Eshes Chayil, by Danny Siegel

Unpublished
This Week in the Shabbat Corner, by Beth Am Congregant Lisa Rauchwerger

It is customary in traditional households on Friday night to sing the last 22 verses of the Book of Proverbs, Eishet Hayil, “Woman of Valor”, in honor of one’s wife. In my former life, my partner and I used to read this modern take-off aloud to each other every Shabbat after we lit the candles, and every Shabbat we altered it slightly, depending on how we were feeling and what we had experienced that week. It was a moving and incredibly prayerful way to begin Shabbat, and it brought a moment of intimate mindfulness to our weekly ritual. It can be found in Unlocked Doors, 1969-1983, the selected poems of Danny Siegel, ©1983 by Danny Siegel, pgs. 34-35.

IN LOCO ESHES CHAYIL
For Friday Night

(Husband/partner/spouse embraces and kisses wife/partner/spouse, then takes her/his hand and recites:)

I love you.
What you have done for me this week,
         comforting me,
         challenging me,
         privileging me with your grandeur,
I shall never have the skill,
         the genius
                   to articulate.
Dragged down again and again
         by mundane and commonplace
                   jobs and burdens,
I am raised by your arms
         once more
         to your visions of
         myself-with-you.
Because of you
         I will never know despair,
         or the claws and clutch
         of loneliness.
You are a constant revelation,
         a reminder of all the Noble
         and the Upright of the Earth,
and I shall never know for what reason
         I have been graced by your love.
Companion.  Ineffably precious friend.
         Each moment is a Bracha—blessing
                   because of you,
         each day a portion of the mysteries
                   of Sinai and Creation,
         each tomorrow a taste
                   of Future Worlds.
My metaphors
         are meek:
For you move my soul in ways
         only the eloquence-of-silence can express.
And yet,
         you see,
I must speak.
I love you.

My wife/partner Kaila and I do not have children (unless you count our kitty Ginny), but we observe Shabbat every week. We light and say the blessing over the candles, saying silent prayers afterwards for family and friends. We chant the blessing over the wine in two-part harmony, using a special kiddush cup, and bless the usually homemade challah, then kiss each other and our kitty. We then have a special Shabbat meal, to which we often invite family and friends. Blessings bring sacredness to the profane, and lift up the everyday and make them holy.

In A Day Apart, Shabbat at Home, by Noam Sachs Zion and Shawn Fields-Meyer, there is a lovely passage about blessing, by Lawrence S. Kushner, pg. 88.

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