November 25, 2004
Single Woman of Valor
I am a woman of valor.
But nobody is singing my weekly praises. Oh no, that's saved for the same lucky women who get the
Pottery Barn registry, the rock on their hand and a man in their bed.
According to Jewish tradition, every Shabbat, a husband sings "Eshet Chayil" -- "A Woman of Valor" (WOV) -- to his wife. This Friday night, I listened as my friend, Dan, told his wife, Jen, "Her price is far above rubies ... she's robed in strength and dignity, and cheerfully faces whatever may come." All true.
But hello? Have you spent any time with me? I'm valorous, or valorful, or.... I'm too fired up to come up with the proper derivative, so let's just call me wonderful. Not only is my birthstone the ruby, but I'm Rosie the Riveter strong. I get my sweat on at the gym and can beat any Popeye at arm wrestling. Well, maybe not arm wrestling, but thumb wrestling -- you don't want to mess with me. I've got more dignity and grace than an Oscar-night loser. (It was an honor just to be asked out.) And as for cheerful, I'm never fully dressed without a smile. So don't discount my valor just because I'm single.
The text says a woman of valor "seeks wool and flax." Well, I go above and beyond that. I seek wool, flax, silk, cashmere, cotton, cotton blend, anything they're showing at the Beverly Center that complements my taut tummy and tight curves. It also says a woman of valor works willingly with her hands. Yeah, let's just say I've had no complaints.
So it's not that I don't fit the WOV description; it's that I'm not married and, therefore, declared ineligible. No husband, no valor. That's just crazy talk. I have as much character and heart as any of my married friends. A woman of valor "opens her mouth with wisdom and her tongue is guided by kindness." Well, I'm always opening my mouth, and I'm nothing if not wise. Got the Phi Beta Kappa pin to prove it. And kindness? I'd give you the tube top off my back. So what am I, chopped liver? Where's my two thumbs up? Single babes are getting stiffed on this one and I demand a recount.
There are numerous single women of valor throughout Jewish history. Look at the Matriarchs. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah didn't spontaneously become righteous, admirable chicks once they got hitched to the patriarchs. Please. I'm sure these fab four were praiseworthy long before they married Abe, Ike and Jake. Take Esther -- she was queen by the end of the whole megillah, but when she first, bravely entered the palace of Ahashverus, she was single. Ruth and Naomi -- widows! Both of them! Single women who exemplify friendship and loyalty. Our Chanukah heroine, Judith? It was because she was single that she could seduce Assyrian Gen. Holofernes and take his head for a roll. So why are we only applauding the married girls? There's no magic wedding pill that suddenly increases a woman's net worth. No bridal night "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" that transforms pumpkins into carriages and cinder girls into righteous women. A big puffy dress and vows don't change who you are at the core.
A WOV was raised that way. She was a little girl of virtue, a teenager of, well, maybe she was a difficult teenager, but she became an extraordinary young Miss long before she became a Mrs.
I descend from a long line of WOVs. Two outstanding grandmothers and a mom who takes the kosher bakery coffee cake. They raised me to be a caring, intelligent, self-confident woman. I don't need a husband to tell me I'm the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. I know I'm a treasure. But still, it would be nice to hear it sometimes.
I have the pull to get past the bouncer at Sunset Strip's Shelter on a Saturday, but I don't have the clout to amend an ancient text on any day. So I doubt the free benchers at weddings will feature "Single Babes of Valor" anytime soon. Which is why I'm standing on my Ivory Soap box, asking you to help me change the world one Shabbat table at a time.
At your next Shabbat dinner, praise not only the newlywed and the mother of three, but the sexy single balabusta who runs her studio apartment with gusto and the beautiful unmarried Jewish gal who lights candles on Friday night and shoots tequila on Saturday night. Single Jewish women deserve praise, too.
Freelance writer Carin Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.