||HOW A WIFE'S TRUE BEAUTY ISN'T ONLY "SKIN
- Thursday, September 7, '00 - Parshas Kee Saitsay 5760
A superficial marriage is a
"dead marriage waiting to happen." Much emphasis today is placed on externals -
looks, money, impression, status. These often contradict marriage success; causing harm,
torment and self-sabotage. It is the deeper qualities that enable a marriage to endure and
to be happy.
A husband and wife each are obligated to VOLUNTARILY treat each other like royalty
[Midrash], with excesses of respect [Rambam, Ishuss], ongoing giving which pleases one
another [Michtav Me'Eliyahu] and loyal obedience to the marital instructions of Chazal
[Pela Yo'etz]. The greatest thing is peace [Beraishis Raba]. True wisdom is turning bad
things into good things [Orchos Tzadikim], true strength is turning someone who hates you
into someone who loves you [Avos DeRebi Noson] and it is easy for you to love someone who
loves you [Rabbi Akiva Aiger]. It is crucial for spouses to make themselves exclusive for
one another and to vigilantly make each other know this securely and constantly. If they
do all this, together with the practical functioning in life required of each, and with
effective communication, the couple will have great love for each other.
The more modest, humble, respectable and good-hearted a woman makes herself, the bigger
she gets in her husband's eyes. The bigger a wife makes herself, the smaller she gets in
her husband's eyes [Menoras Ha'Maor]. Either way (bigger or smaller), his nature is to
respond with the opposite of what she presents to him. That's the way G-d made nature.
Taking modesty seriously, and keeping affection and physicality private, are major parts
of the holiness of the Jewish people. Modesty is a safeguard against immorality, which is
a vital element of peaceful marriage; and keeps a woman exclusively for her husband.
Jewish law requires that a woman be modest in dress, demeanor, actions and approach to
marriage, career and life. When she is modest, she is meritorious in G-d's eyes. Further
(even though this may be contrary to modern theory), the more a wife is modest, the more a
husband will love, respect and admire her. Her internal character qualities make her
bigger, more beautiful and beloved to her husband. "All of a Jewish woman's honor is
internal (Psalms 45:14)." Immodesty and externals have no intrinsic worth.
"Charm is false and external beauty is empty, a woman who reveres G-d is praiseworthy
One of the main manifestations of modesty is in the woman's dress code, which achieves
a privacy about herself to which the public may not have access. In the
modesty-dress-code, the clothes of a Jewish woman or girl must keep her covered to at
least the knees and elbows (the clothes must allow for complete coverage under all
circumstances, e.g when passing an article to another person; when bending, lifting or
turning), the neck-line must be covered and closed (e.g. no low neckline nor open buttons)
so that nothing under the neck is ever disclosed. Her demeanor has to be modest. If a
woman wears clothes that are technically modest but * the colors are loud or * her walk is
evocative or * the clothes are tight-fitting or * the clothes have slits or * her elbows,
knees and neckline are not covered by the garment when she passes a plate of potatoes or *
she fixes her stockings on the sidewalk or * she yells - she misses the point, defeats the
purpose and still violates modesty. Once a woman has been married, her own hair must be
covered with an appropriate kerchief, hat or wig. Some Torah authorities prohibit the
married woman's use of a wig. Please consult your orthodox rabbi for details or questions.
Just as beautiful inner qualities endear a wife to her husband, Torah makes a husband
more esteemed in the eyes of a Jewish wife. If a man fulfills his obligation to learn
Torah regularly every day; AND if the learning will show up IN HIM; the combination of: *
his active dedication to regular times for Torah learning and * the Torah being evident in
his speech, behavior, thinking and character...bring a man respect, fondness, devotion and
admiration from his wife. He also should ongoingly and unconditionally: bring presents
(that show sincere thought, not necessarily costing big money), ask how she and the
children are, thank her and show genuine appreciation for things she does, offer to do
favors or to be helpful to her, and show that she matters and is precious to him.
The crucial traits are those of the heart - sterling midos, affection, honor,
integrity, understanding, warmth, mutual respect and fulfillment of all responsibility.
When, in practical life, the spouses consistently present to each other: inner,
Torah-based qualities and treatment (and doing so sweetly and gently, with concern and
consideration, relating authentically HEART TO HEART), their peace WITH each other,
appreciation FOR each other and trust IN each other truly zooms up! In these few
paragraphs is much of what goes into having a strong, compatible, beautiful, happy and
lasting marriage. Think into this deeply and apply it diligently.