by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Why does the Torah emphasize the beauty of our Foremothers? Is this what is important? And if so, what hope is there for plain-looking women?
It is true that the Torah tells us of the great beauty of at least three of our Mothers, Sarah, Rivkah and Rachel. However, their beauty was not just “skin deep.” Their main characteristics were piety, modesty and a great desire to create the Jewish Nation. These qualities are their true beauty.
You are correct, they were also physically very beautiful. But look and see how our Fathers Avraham and Yitzchak did not even notice their physical beauty. Physical beauty was stressed only by our Father Yaakov.
Only when Avraham was traveling to Egypt did he notice Sarah’s great physical beauty and realize that he would be in danger because of it.[i]
Yitzchak’s attachment to Rivkah began when he heard how she was chosen by G-d to be his wife, not when he first saw her physical beauty, as her face was covered with a veil.[ii] Rivkah wanted Yitzchak to accept her because Hashem chose her to be his wife. G-d did so because of her spiritual beauty, not because of her great physical beauty.
But with Yaakov it was different. He initially loved Rachel because of her physical appearance. Rachel was Yaakov’s worldly wife, while Leah was his spiritual wife. Clearly, from the worldly perspective, physical beauty is important.
Each of the Fathers represents a different characteristic of the Jewish man. And yes, the worldly characteristic of physical beauty is also important. But as you see, spiritual beauty is stressed much more in the Torah.
What should the “plain-looking woman” do? When anyone moves toward fulfilling their spiritual goal, they begin to glow with spiritual beauty. In truth, their physical appearances also become beautiful. Each of us came into the world to accomplish an essential task. As we move toward our potential, we radiate holiness, and this holiness is very attractive, especially to the type of spiritual-sensitive person whom these women wish to attract.
[i] Genesis 12:11
[ii] Genesis 24:65
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא