Chagrah boz matneha v’taametz zeroteha
“She girds her loins with strength and she makes her arms courageous”
The letter Chet, the eight letter, follows the letters Vav, representing the male, and Zayin, representing the female and is formed by a Vav and Zayin side by side and connected at the top. As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, relationships are hard as taking two very different beings and joining them together takes an incredible amount of work.
That is why the union of man and wife is the 8th letter, for it is the idea of going above and beyond the natural, for a successful marriage is most definitely in the realm of the supernatural. It states in the Talmud that bringing together a husband and wife is more difficult than the splitting of the sea (Sotah 2a). So too we see that when the bride and groom stand under the marriage canopy (the chuppah which likewise begins with the letter Chet) that they themselves form a chuppah under the chuppah for they are the Vav and the Zayin, side by side, and connected together from Above.
This once again reiterates the concept that a healthy marriage is when the husband and wife are unified and equal yet recognize that there is something Greater than both of them that holds their marriage together. This is how they take their relationship, something incredibly natural, and bring it into the supernatural, maintaining a connection that goes above and beyond the two of them.
Other connections to the Chet being related to infinity are how there are seven days of the week, the six weekdays and then Shabbat, and then the 8th is that of the supernatural. So too, it is on the 8th day that a Jewish baby boy is circumcised, and there are eight days of Chanukah, representing the miracle of the oil. The Chet is considered the gateway to infinity and yet, it is the letter related to ‘chayim’, life itself. The goal of our lives is to reach beyond the finite, into the infinite, beyond the natural into the supernatural, and yet to remain connected to and involved with our day to day lives.
This eighth verse of Eshet Chayil speaks of the loins, from which the legs extend and connect to the ground, and the arms, which extend outwards from the heart and can rise above one’s body, higher than any other part of ourselves. In Kabbalah, the right and left axis of our body correspond to the masculine and feminine as well. The only two limbs we have that are side by side and equal are our arms and our legs.
If we visualize our arms or our legs as the Vav and the Zayin, that means then that the loins and the heart become the connectors, with both forming Vavs on our body. Our lower Chet (loins) have the power to create/conceive and then birth life (connected again to the Chet of chayim, meaning ‘life.’ And our upper Chet (arms) have the power to catch that life, to bring it forth, to hold it, support it and nurture it.
Nothing represents both the finite and the infinite more than a baby and the creation of that baby. The ability to create and bring forth life is nothing short of miraculous while simultaneously being the most natural thing there is. And this new life can only occur through the connection, the Divine union, of husband and wife. Intimacy, when within the context of love and holiness, is the true bond of heaven and earth. This is why it is taught by the Sages that every time a husband and wife have sexual relations that a soul is formed. Sometimes that soul comes into a body resulting in a pregnancy, other times that soul remains purely spiritual. But when we unify in the most powerful of ways it always results in positive creation.
As was discussed in the previous article, it was decreed during the enslavement in Egypt that the Jewish baby boys were to be killed at birth or soon thereafter. Miriam, the woman related to this verse, was connected both to the birthing of these babies as a midwife, and to the rescue of them from death (both her own brother, Moshe, and countless others.) How beautiful then that this verse, numerically equivalent to eight and representing infinity, is also the day that a Jewish baby boy receives his brit (circumcision) but whose deeper meaning is ‘covenant.’ For the 8th day, the number of infinity, is when life is celebrated and soul and body are truly connected.