Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

There is a cute true story about “beauty in the eye of the beholder” or “Al taam vareach, ein lehitvakeach.”

A shadchente was trying to fulfill the wishes of a boy who wanted to go out only with the most beautiful girl. So she set him up with a number of very pretty girls and he refused all of them. At the end of her rope she looked through her files again and saw the only possibility left was a girl that even euphemistically you could not call beautiful. She suggested it anyway, nothing else was available.

Well, he went out with the girl and called the shadchente as soon as he came home. “Why did you take so long to suggest this girl, she’s perfect, she’s the most beautiful girl in the world!”

Please realize a picture means absolutely nothing. Someone who is average looking may appear truly beautiful by virtue of their character after further acquaintance. It is a cliché because it is true.
Some people are very photogenic and although in person they may just be pretty, the camera may make them appear beautiful. Then you have the reverse--a really beautiful girl who may look only passable. The same is true in the case of boys. Boys change so much especially at the age of shidduchim. Some may be growing a beard; some may have bad skin, or the picture was taken at an inopportune moment.

A picture has another chisaron: When one meets a person one gets a certain impression at first sight but then the person starts talking and one gets drawn into the character of the person, how interesting they are or how warm, or funny etc. so even if the first look was only homely and not handsome, once one is drawn into the character of the person physical impressions lessen. When one sees only a picture the only thing that remains is the physical impression.

A picture cannot talk; it cannot show the true essence of the person. One could chv"sh reject a shidduch because a picture is less than half the person.

Another compelling reason not to pay attention only to physical beauty is that through life we all change. The years shape us in many different ways. If the main attraction was physical beauty, what will the marriage hinge on once this aspect is not what it was in the past? Therefore, although we all agree that "attraction" is necessary, this does not always depend on the physical attributes of a person.