Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. — Proverbs 31:30
If you want to know what’s truly important in life, go to a funeral. There, you will hear all the things that make a person special. You will hear all about what makes a life well-lived. You will learn what it takes to make a difference in the lives of others and what makes a good spouse, parent, and friend.
And if you pay really close attention, you might also notice what is not spoken about. I’ve never heard any eulogy mention how good-looking a person was or how much money that person made. Instead, we would be more likely to hear about a person’s inner beauty or how much person gave to charity and to others.
This reality shines in stark contrast to the messages we are bombarded with every day. Whether it’s billboards, magazine ads, or television advertisements, the value system promoted in our society puts beauty and possessions at the top of the list. We are told that we must be good-looking to be lovable or in good shape to be suitable. We have to have the right things to be with the right crowd, and the latest in technology to be considered in touch with reality. So many people spend so much time feeling miserable about themselves because they buy into these lies.
Don’t believe it.
In Proverbs, King Solomon reminds us about the truth. He wrote, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.“ All the Jewish sages agree that this isn’t just a teaching for women, but a lesson for us all, directing us to value the inner self over our outer appearances, and for that matter, possessions. Ultimately, our outer self and stuff will go back to dust, while our inner being lasts forever.
Perhaps you have met an objectively good-looking person who grew to be “ugly” to you the more you got to know him or her? Or maybe you have known an average-looking individual who seemed more and more beautiful to you as you got to know that person? This is because our inner self pours out onto our outer selves. A person who is beautiful on the inside will glow with a special beauty on the outside.
This message is especially important these days. To practice this idea, consider how we might live if no one had the ability to see. If no one could see what we looked like or what we had, would we live with a different priority system? Would we do things different daily? If outer appearances didn’t matter, who might we be? Perhaps we would like to consider being that person anyway.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President