Monday, March 26, 2012

A misbehaving woman is ugly: Beauty only to serve G-d

Rav Yaakov Emden(Avos 6:2): The verse (Mishlei 11:22) a beautiful woman who misbehaves is like a gold ring in the nose of a pig. The explanation of this verse is that Shlomo saw with his wisdom the lust that men had for women. Their love blinded them from seeing the disgusting aspects of women. This is stated in Shabbos (152a): A woman is like a pitcher of filth and her mouth is full of blood and yet everyone runs after her. If you would reveal to them her blemishes they would not pay attention. Thus Shlomo used a parable that was obvious and known to all and applied it to a woman. Thus it means that even though a ring is something very valuable – the pig itself is not beautiful. It is clearly disgusting to everyone and therefore even with the beauty of the ring – the pig itself is not innately attractive. This is the point of comparison to a woman. Thus when the external reasons for the attractiveness of women are removed – she herself is compared to a pig. A person should not be seduced by the form and beauty of a person since it is superficial. Thus a person who is perceived of as beautiful – the beauty is only to serve G‑d. If he doesn’t act in this manner, he destroys the godly image. Thus we see about the wicked Haman (Esther 7), And the face of Haman was covered. That is because he angered G‑d. The consequence for one who has caused anger and is reprimanded is to be degraded, embarrassed and to have his face concealed.

8 comments :

  1. I've always wondered how this intersects with the famous story (in Orchos Tzaddikim?) of a Tzaddik who chanced upon a carcass with his Talmiddim. They reacted with disgust, while he commented "look how white its teeth are." There's a fine line somewhere between seeing good in everything and seeing things for what they really are. I wonder where that line is.

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  2. Would be interesting to check the miforshim on this posuk of Shlomo Hamalech...
    Also was this a quote of Shlomo Hamelech in early years before some marriages or a quote from Post-Marriages time?.

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    1. Rashi says it is referring to a talmid chachom who leaves the derech of Torah.

      Rashi (Mishlei 11:22): As a gold ring in the nose of a pig who dirties the ring in the garbage, so is a talmid chachom (who is compared to a beautiful woman) who deviates from the path of good And misbehaves - because he distances himself from Torah.

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  3. Thank you DT for posting this. Actually, the observation of Shlomo Hamelech is in line with human experience. Even those with the good fortune of a good outwardly appearance can become "ugly" by their deeds.
    @ Caren May, there is a general adage that Song of songs was written in his youth; Mishlei (the book in question) was in middle age, and Koheleth was in his old age. Hence this verse was - according to this theory - written while he was some time into his many marriages!

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  4. Recipients and PublicityMarch 26, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    One wonders what the reality truly is in the dichotomy between the life and times of Shlomo Hamelech as it really was in real life, and on the other hand what the later sages of Talmud and later meforshim like Rav Yaakov Emden interpret it to be as lessons for Jews to learn?

    Generally, in the world of Torah SheBeal Peh as it has evolved today very scant attention is paid to the contents, personalities and events of Nach. The loves and hates and fights and wars of the personalities in the Tanach do not seem to match the (for lack of a better phrase) the "GOLUS stereotypes" of the last 2,000 years. Few yeshiva students (Chasidish or Litvish) know about the goings on in Nach, while they are taught to ignore it and focus on the words and personalities of latter-day Rebbes and Rosh Yeshivas.

    In the times of the Tanach, Israelite Kings were allowed dozens of wives and concubines, and even the ordinary Jew was permitted to take several wives and concubines. There was also plenty gilui arayos (sexual immorality) in ancient times (one of the three main reasons for the destruction of the First Bais HaMikdosh) and the Chazal talk about the special yetzer hara for arayos that was equal with the yetzer hara for avoda zora. While subsequent to the Churban Bayis Rishon the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah were mevatel ("stopped") the yetzer hora for avoda zora, they nevertheless left alone the yetzer hora for arayos, otherwise there would not be attractions between ANY males and females, even a rooster would not be attracted to a hen, and the human race would stop propagating itself and humanity would cease in one generation.

    So it is a fine line, not to attack human sexuality and make it in to a totally "dark monster" because as humans we still need it. While, warnings and moral education are good and necessary, but neuroses and complete sexual abstinence are bad and unhelpful.

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    1. While subsequent to the Churban Bayis Rishon the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah were mevatel ("stopped") the yetzer hora for avoda zora, they nevertheless left alone the yetzer hora for arayos, otherwise there would not be attractions between ANY males and females, even a rooster would not be attracted to a hen, and the human race would stop propagating itself and humanity would cease in one generation.
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      They did in fact modify the yetzer harah by blinding it.

      Yoma (69b): And they cried to G d with a loud voice (Nechemiah 9:4). What were they saying? “Woe! Woe! It is he [the evil inclination for idolatry (Rashi)] - who has destroyed the Sanctuary, burnt the Temple and killed all the tzadikim and caused all of Israel to be exiled from their land and yet he is still dancing amongst us. While it is true that you only gave him to us so that we can receive reward for avoiding his temptations but we don’t want him or the reward he can cause.” A note fell from heaven which had the word “truth” written on it – meaning that G d agreed with them (Rashi). R’ Chanina said we learn from this that G d’s seal is truth. They fasted for the days and three nights and the evil inclination for idolatry was surrendered to them. He came out like a fiery young lion from the Holy of Holies of the Temple. The Prophet Zechariah then told Israel that this is the Evil Inclination for idolatry as it says (Zechariah 5:8), “This is wickedness.” When they seized him a single hair of his beard came out and he raised his voice which was heard for a distance of four hundred parsahs. They then asked, “What shall we do? Perhaps - G d forbid! - heaven might have mercy on him?” The prophet told them to place it in a lead container and to seal it closed with lead since lead absorbs sound. As it is stated in Zechariah 5:8), “This is wickedness and he threw her down inside a measure and sealed it with lead.” They said that since this a time of special divine favor we should pray to obtain the Evil Inclination for sinning. They prayed and it was surrendered to them. The Prophet said to them that they should know that if they killed it then the world will end (because there will not be any reproduction –Rashi). They imprisoned it for three days. They searched all of Israel for a fresh egg and could not find one. They then asked, “What shall we do? If we kill him that will be the end of the world! If we ask for half-mercy we will not get it since heaven doesn’t give half-mercy.” They blinded his eyes with eye makeup and let him go. This helps so that a person doesn’t have desire to commit incest.

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    2. Recipients and PublicityMarch 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM

      "Daas Torah said...They said that since this a time of special divine favor we should pray to obtain the Evil Inclination for sinning. They prayed and it was surrendered to them. The Prophet said to them that they should know that if they killed it then the world will end (because there will not be any reproduction –Rashi). They imprisoned it for three days. They searched all of Israel for a fresh egg and could not find one. They then asked, “What shall we do? If we kill him that will be the end of the world! If we ask for half-mercy we will not get it since heaven doesn’t give half-mercy.” They blinded his eyes with eye makeup and let him go. This helps so that a person doesn’t have desire to commit incest."

      Question for you Rabbi Eidensohn:

      What does it mean they "blinded his eyes with eye makeup"? And it seems like it is only "part cure" or "half a measure" since they admit that "This helps so that a person doesn’t have desire to commit incest" -- but the rest of the yetzer hora for arayos is still intact? Furthermore, they admit that it is needed and CANNOT be "eliminated" in the world as we know it to be.

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  5. An interview about this very topic.

    http://www.olamhaemet.com/2012/03/interview-with-luke-ford-part-1/

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