In the first article in the “Dating, Love, and Marriage” series, we discussed showing appreciation to our spouses. In this piece I offer dating tips.
Judaism advocates balancing inner and outer beauty. In fact, the Torah gives us female role models whose outer beauty is inextricably bound up with their inner beauty. In contemporary terms, be sure to look for a woman who is both brains and beauty.
The Torah refers to the matriarch Sarah as “a woman of beautiful appearance” (Genesis 12:11). Given that Sarah is one of the three female progenitors of the Jewish people, we know for certain that her outer appearance is only one aspect of her standing as a great beauty. She certainly had brains, not to mention outstanding character traits.
Another feminine beauty and heroine is Rachav, who demonstrates such inner strength and character that she merited becoming the wife of Joshua (who leads the Jewish people into Israel following 40 years of wandering in the desert). Rachav’s story is found in the second chapter of the Book of Joshua. She lives for 40 years as a woman of ill repute, dedicating her life to, and misusing, her physical beauty. She ultimately reaches a place of clarity and transforms her life into a righteous one. Lots of brains and beauty there.
Avigail is a figure who was noted for her outer beauty that was clearly supplemented, and complemented with an attractive personality. Her story appears in the Book of Samuel I, chapter 25, which describes her as both “intelligent and beautiful.” The text tells us how Avigail convinced the future King David to rethink a planned battle strategy that was not in his best interest, and how she later became his wife. Given that the Torah connects Avigail’s beauty with a story of her righteousness, courage and personal vision, we may conclude that her beauty radiates outward from the inside. David sure knew how to choose a wife!
A fourth Jewish heroine reputed to have been a great beauty is Queen Esther of the Purim story, who uses her physical appearance as a means rather than an end. It is interesting to note, however, that while Esther was supposedly chosen as queen because of her external beauty, there is a Talmudic teaching that Esther was actually a homely and unattractive woman! According to this approach, her inner beauty was so overwhelming that her outer appearance was essentially irrelevant and unimportant! In the words of the Talmud, Esther was actually of a “greenish” complexion, but she had a “thread of grace” that was upon her. We are taught that when the internal is elevated and beautiful, it will show through to the external, so that she can be seen as nothing other than beautiful.
Seek Inner AND Outer Beauty
For today’s women in search of both inner and outer beauty, the accomplishments of the Jewish women in Egypt are another example of what happens when body and spirit have a productive working relationship. During the Egyptian enslavement, Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish newborn boys be thrown into the Nile River. In response to this declaration, the Jewish men chose to stop procreating altogether and ceased living with their wives. The women, however, refused to give up their hope for a Jewish future. In order to inspire their husbands to continue having families, they adopted a strategy that incorporated brains, courage and beauty. They would dress up and make themselves attractive to their husbands. Hence, the women of Egypt used their physical beauty for a goal of the highest order – to ensure Jewish continuity!
….and of course, ladies, the same applies when seeking a man. Make sure he has both brains and looks!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin