Torah Blog

 

A blog of Torah thoughts, poems and other random odds 'n' sods. For tag cloud click here.
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Entries in Sarah (1)

Thursday
Oct142010

Now I know the beauty


ספר בראשית פרק יב
(יא) וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת מַרְאֶה אָתְּ:

Genesis 12:11. And it came to pass, when he came near to enter to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a pretty woman to look upon.

Had Avraham not been aware before of how his wife looked? Yes, but he was now looking at her through the eyes of Egyptian society and seeing her afresh.

For me, two important points emerge:

1) Let us use anything we can to refresh our eyes to the beauty of what is around us - even if it is Egyptian society. Even sources that are debased in some way might be able to teach us to see the beauty of G-d's world in a new way. The world of art, though flawed, can do this.

Let us always refresh our eyes to the beauty of the world. Every morning, press that existential F5 button, wake up, חדשים לבקרים, רבה אמונתך

2) Perhaps we may deduce that Avraham was used to looking at inner beauty, not externals. Perhaps he did not even know how attractive his wife was physically, for he was involved with her soul. Now he was forced pragmatically to reevaluate her physicality, so as to prepare for the dangers it might bring to them in this new land.

In the movie "Prelude to a Kiss," a lovely young bride switches bodies with an old man. The groom is in love with his new wife, but she now comes in a very unattractive wrapper. He struggles with this; there is a barrier between then. Then during one profound scene, we see him break through the externals, entirely aware of the person he loves within; able to love her and reach out to break through the barrier.

How much do and should externals mean to us, in the day to day, or in searching for a life partner? In Taanit 20b, an arrogant rabbi runs into a hideous man on the road, and says "How ugly you are! Are all the citizens of your town as ugly as you?" His fellow replies, "I do not know! Go and tell the craftsman who made me, How ugly is the vessel you have made!" Attempting to interpret this exchange could lead us down several paths, but what strikes me is that the ugly man is reminding the rabbi of G-d. "You are lacking in a sense of G-d at this moment, for were you mindful of G-d, you could not speak like this. Could you stand before G-d and speak of an ugly vessel? Ignoring inner parts? Go talk to G-d and let us see you speak in this fashion!"

Just as Hillel says, The bride is always beautiful. If you cannot see the beauty of a bride on your wedding day, clear out your eyes; employ your inner eye.

No, we are not built to ignore externals, they are a part of our lives. But let us, just for a moment, try to see what's inside, the beauty that shines within. We might be surprised.