Friday, April 18, 2008

Eishet Chayil, Woman of Valor

So today's Friday, and I'm going to feature an interesting song, Eishet Chayil, to help us get in the mood for Shabbat. But first, let me take step back and chuckle a bit about where the idea for this post came from. It's all about me being "ignorant in public" again.

Last week, I posted about Cantor Yosef Gottesman and his "cover version" of the theme to the Titanic. I got a great comment from the Jewish musician Gerson Veroba, who was pretty unimpressed. He made two points.

1. This isn't a cover of the song, it's Gottesman taking a well known standard (Eishet Chayil) and singing it to the melody of the Titanic theme. Sum total creativity or musical insight

2. While the Titanic theme is a lovely melody, the central themes of the song are completely inappropriate to Eishet Chayil. Titanic is a love story used to highlight a larger story of human tragedy. Eishet Chayil is from Proverbs 31, a description of how a virtuous woman behaves, and is typically sung on Shabbat after services and dinner, by a husband to extol the virtues of his wonderful wife. Tragic? Nope. Bad thematic match.

So while I think Veroba has a definite point on the thematic elements argument. I need to go back to his first point.

Oh. Eishet Chayil is a song? One that's sung on Shabbat. A rather lovely one? Umm. I didn't know that.

So anyway, here's a lovely presentation of Eishet Chayil performed by Ohad moskovits, mendi jerufi, amiran dvir & yshai lapidot. It's a little shmaltzy for me, but hey. It isn't worse than the Titanic version.
Piah pascha - eshes chayil

You can catch a bunch of other version on YouTube and get the lyrics in Hebrew and English from Project Z'mirot.

By the way, in addition to Eishet Chayil being a Shabbat standard, it seems to be a wedding favorite. I saw a number of videos on YouTube that featured new husbands singing it to their new wives during their wedding reception [Video 1] [Video 2]. Very cute.

HatTip to YouTube user MDBFriends for posting the video and to Gerson Veroba for his comment that prompted all of this.

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