Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Beautiful Wife - Part II

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Continued from this post: link

We are taught that a beautiful wife broadens a person's mind.[1] Some of our sages even stated that a married woman who is not careful to make herself attractive should be censured.[2] The requirement for a woman to look attractive for her husband applies at all times, both inside and outside of the home.[3] Even the wives of some of the greatest rabbis would never leave their homes unless they were properly made up.[4] Whether he'll admit it or not - a husband always wants to be made proud by the way his wife looks. From even the earliest times it was considered unheard of for a woman to leave her home not properly put together, especially when attending the synagogue.[5] A woman is permitted to undergo cosmetic surgery if altering her appearance would give her greater self-confidence and happiness.[6]

Click here to read moreThe sages of the Talmud did not hesitate to identify women who were exceptionally beautiful.[7] Similarly, the tribe of Asher was known for their beautiful women who were sought after by princes and priests.[8] One should not be shy to tell others that one's sister is attractive.[9] A woman who is intimate with her husband often will help keep him out of trouble.[10] A wife who does not make the efforts to keep herself appealing to her husband may be divorced.[11] It goes without saying that a woman should not withhold marital relations from her husband when he desires her.[12]

It is interesting to note that it may just be due to the diligence of the women who were sure to maintain their beauty that secured the survival of the Jewish people in Egypt. We are told that in an effort to ruin even the marital lives of his Jewish slaves, Pharaoh forbade the men from going home to their wives at night, making them sleep in the fields instead. The men were so exhausted at the end of each day from their slavery that they had no strength or desire for intimacy with their wives anyways. In defiance, the women would make themselves especially attractive and visit their husbands in the fields with food and drink. After the men had refreshed themselves, the women would then seduce them with their beauty. The husbands quickly forgot about their exhaustion and the Jewish nation continued to grow in number owing to these encounters.

This deed was considered so great before God that to the dismay of even Moses, God decreed that the washing and purification basins of the Beit Hamikdash be constructed from none other than the mirrors which the Jewish women had used to make themselves attractive to their husbands.[13] God reasoned that the mirrors which had been used with such pure and sincere motives merit to be the vessels of all future purification as well.


[1] Berachot 57b
[2] Maharam M'rottenberg 4:199
[3] Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 153:24
[4] Ta'anit 23b
[5] Tosfot;Megilla 31a
[6] Igrot Moshe C.M. 2:66
[7] Megilla 15a
[8] Rashi;Devarim 33:24
[9] Bava Metzia 84a
[10] Sanhedrin 109b
[11] Gittin 90a
[12] Rambam Nedarim 12:9
[13] Sota 11b, Rashi;Shemot 38:8

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