Contact Us

Feminine Beauty

Feminine Beauty

 Email

One of my wife’s recurring complaints concerns the dearth of closet space in our home. A reminder that all my clothing occupies a measly corner of one closet – comprising a small fraction of the home’s total closet space – invariably elicits a detailed explanation of a woman’s extensive wardrobe needs. Different seasons call for different styles, and each season requires its own set of elegant, casual, elegant/casual, work and Shabbat clothing… Being a certified "outsider," I am very intrigued by the close relationship the female gender shares with style, fashion, and beauty. Is this preoccupation a vice or a virtue? Furthermore, this female fixation isn’t limited to dress and personal appearance; it’s incredible how some women will spend fifteen minutes decorating a platter of food which will be consumed in less than five! I wonder: does the Torah – our guide in every area of life – approve of this preoccupation with apparent vanity? Is there perhaps a deeper reason for a woman’s innate connection to beauty?

Is there perhaps a deeper reason for a woman’s innate connection to beauty?

An understanding of the very purpose of the creation of the Jewish soul sheds light on the divergent natures of the sexes. For reasons completely unfathomable to the human mind, G‑d desires a "dwelling place" in this lowly world. It is our task to take a world which is driven by the pursuits of ego, pleasure, money, and honor, a world which is utterly inhospitable to spirituality, and through the performance of mitzvot to convert it into a royal palace for its Creator.

Constructing a palace requires master interior designers as well as skilled builders. A palace isn’t worthy of its name unless it is overflowing with exquisite furnishings, graceful tapestries, and costly pieces of art. Large bare rooms with tall ceilings are nice—but they can also be found at your local gym… The divine palace we are building also requires builders and interior decorators. While the commandments, mitzvoth, we perform accumulate and turn into the bricks, walls and ceilings of the palace, it is the beauty and warmth of these mitzvot which provide the handsome and elegant interior.

Generally speaking, while men are busy laying the bricks, women infuse the palace with splendor and beauty. A beautiful mitzvah is one performed with feeling, love, and pride; and it is the special mission of the Jewish woman to infuse her home, and the world at large, with this beauty. It is the Jewish mother, with her instinctive gentleness and warmth, who teaches her child to revere and love G‑d’s commandments. In short: the man creates the body; the woman adds the soul. This is one of the main reasons why the Jewishness of a child is determined through the mother. It is the Jewish woman that provides the essence, that defines what something is and what something is capable of being.

Indeed, the woman’s passion for beauty is a reflection of her very essence and purpose. Bringing beauty into all areas of life – from the most spiritual to the most mundane – is her holy calling.

Adapted by Naftali Silberberg from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
4 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous 02459 November 1, 2015

Doesn't answer the question OK. A women develops things. She makes them the best that they could be. She is supposed to do this spiritually, and physically, for a practical aim (example: wheat --> bread). But what about doing this for vain reasons? Reply

Jocelyn Ruth Krieger Boca Raton, Florida March 25, 2014

MY WARDROBE SPACE Usually frum men's wardrobes are rather limited: Kapota, black suits, white shirts, ties. of course there are those who mingle weekdays with baale baatem and need sport coats, sport shirts, and of course we must include shoes in both categories. Then exercise cloths are important (wife wants to keep you around a long time, I hope.)
Women need to dress ALWAYS for Hashem. For a good self-image (important) she needs to look good. Last but not least, her best audience SHOULD be her husband who needs to remember compliments are important. Reply

rivka malka baltimore December 27, 2009

greta piece Thanks for this great idea which opens up a new proud and healthy perspective. With tznius, modesty being a value it can be hard to understand the subtlties of beauty, grace and adornment in their proper balance. I loved what this idea gave to me and I'll be passing it on. Reply

Taylor June 4, 2009

Thank You It is so nice to read such a glowing appreciation of female "vanity" written by a man. I myself was raised by a mother who discarded "style" in the name of "modesty." But personally, I feel that for both men and women, presenting yourself beautifully to the world is an act of respect for those around you. Men are not exempt from this simply because they are men. But I uphold the idea that men and women are different, and valuable in different ways. And Judaism supports this. Reading in my little Book of Mitvoth, compiled by the Chafetz Chayim, I found that, while men are commanded not to shave their beards, "A woman is permitted to [remove] her beard if she has hair in the area of the beard." Some might say, what is going on here? But I think you hit the nail on the head - we need the double standard, precisely because we are different, and we each have unique contributions to the makeup of the universe. Thank you for this piece. It makes me feel proud to be a woman. Reply

Related Topics