I was asked this question and I have no idea. Is it a minhag? Before someone asked me this, I thought everybody sung it?

  • I assume you're asking what's the common custom? Because it's obviously permissible for everyone to sing it...What do you mean by Is it a minhag? Is what a minhag? To sing it at all? For married men to sing it? For everyone to sing it?
    – robev
    Aug 20, 2021 at 12:20
  • Sing it at some particular time? Please edit to clarify
    – Double AA
    Aug 20, 2021 at 12:33
  • I know of a couple that follow the German minhag and do not sing it as well as others who do sing it every Friday night. Thus it is indeed a minhag that varies. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:08
  • @DoubleAA Is there another time that it is sung outside of the standard (from my years of eating at people on Shabbos) on Friday night before Kiddush?
    – Yehuda
    Aug 20, 2021 at 17:29
  • @Yehuda I've seen it sung at weddings. Perhaps there are other times too. I've also been to people on Shabbos who don't sing it Friday night before Kiddush fwiw.
    – Double AA
    Aug 20, 2021 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


There are many reasons why Aishes Chayil is sung on Shabbos, but for those with the minhag to say it, it seems to be to said whether married or not (we sang it in every yeshiva I was in despite not of us being married at the time).

Following most of the reasons given in the linked article, it does not seem that one would need to be married either:

  • The Arizal would kiss his mother's hands (Shaar ha-Kavanot Inyan Arvit Leil Shabbos 2) - so the focus may be on one's mother rather than one's wife (and most people have a mother even if they are not married).
  • The Midrash Tanchuma (Chayei Sarah 4) says it was composed by Avraham after Sarah died, so he said it when he was not married to Sarah anymore.
  • The Midrash Shocher Tov (Mishlei 31) writes it corresponds to the 19 great Jewish women, rather than one's wife or refers to the Torah.
  • The Shelah explains this song is for the Shechina, while others explain the Zohar says Aishes Chayil parallels Shabbos which gives beracha to the rest of the week.

You can go down the list and find most of the reasons apply to married and single men alike. I wouldn't say it's an old-wives tale that Aishes Chayil is being sung for one's wife, but all of my Rebbeim who spoke about it said we sing it for other reasons - it just makes your wife happy thinking we're singing for her. (One of the main reasons we light shabbos candles is for shalom bayis (Shabbos 23a), so if Aishes Chayil increases shalom bayis then better all-the-moreso.)

  • I don't get your proof from Midrash Tanchuma. While Avraham wasn't married anymore when he said it, it's referring to his wife. Single folk aren't referring to anyone in particular.
    – robev
    Aug 20, 2021 at 12:57
  • @robev Fair point - My main answer was that all the Yeshivos I learned in sang Aishes Chayil despite us being unmarried. I thought perhaps the Tanchuma shows you don't need to be married right now to sing Aishes Chayil.
    – NJM
    Aug 20, 2021 at 13:01
  • I'd wager "all the yeshivos [you] learned in" were pretty hashkafically similar, so there's not such a great proof that the other custom doesn't exist too
    – Double AA
    Aug 20, 2021 at 13:11
  • @DoubleAA Point well taken. Although I've made my rounds through 'modern' places and then 'yeshivish' places (not hashkafically similar), they were all Ashkenaz.
    – NJM
    Aug 20, 2021 at 13:14
  • Eisher Chayil is in Mishlei. The only woman called "Eishes Chayil" in Tankh is the author's ancestor, Rus. A number of rishonim draw a line between those two points. Others say it was written about Bat-Sheva. (See the pesuqim just before.) Aug 20, 2021 at 14:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .