Friday, December 08, 2006

The beauty of the Aishes Chayil

Ariella at the Kallah Magazine blog asks on the penultimate verse of Sefer Mishlei (Mishlei 31:30) that, if we see that beauty and grace are false and vanity, why are the beautiful girls who dance in the vineyards encouraged to promote themselves to their prospective husbands by this trait of theirs, as described at the end of Mishnayos Ta'anis?

Her husband, the ba'al Divrei Chaim (not the Sanzer's) notes in a comment there that many mefarshim explain the verse in question as “Sheker ha-chein v’hevel hayofi”, but, in a case of “isha yir'as HaShem”, then “hi tis'hallal” for those very attributes of chein and yofi, and concludes by suggesting a question on these mefarshim regarding why she is more worthy of praise for her yofi and chein than for her yir'as HaShem itself.
In a comment there, I responded:

Well, Sarah and Rachel among others are praised for their beauty, rather than for other less tangible but seemingly more important qualities. Perhaps there’s some additional advantage to be accrued from beauty and charisma, such as that it gives a person a greater influence on the world around them that can be used for the expression of their more significant positive qualities (much as height does, as Ariella noted in a previous post), and thus, is worthy of praise more than the individual positive qualities themselves?

On a related note, do those mefarshim understand Yirmiyahu 9:22-23 in the same fashion, i.e, that in general one who is wise, mighty, or wealthy is not deserving of praise, but if they understand and know God, then these qualities are worthy of praise? The wording is quite different, but if this is not the case, why should wisdom and might be different than beauty?

Also, when it says “hi tis’halal”, does that mean that she should be praised as a creation of God in the objective sense (i.e., she-kacha Lo b’olamo), or does it mean that she should be praised for her beauty in the sense of a personal accomplishment? Although beauty, wisdom, etc. are largely God-given gifts, there is still some small influence of personal effort, so perhaps it is possible to say that the accomplishment of maximizing one’s potential in these areas, and thereby enabling one’s qualities of yir’as Shamayim, da’as HaShem, etc. to be amplified to the world, is worthy of praise?

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home