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.