A TorahTutors student exploring the relationship between Yaakov and Rachel was intrigued to discover a range of ideas about the relevance of beauty in this and other biblical relationships.
On one hand, the Midrash Tanchuma (Vayetze 6) states, “There is no one more beautiful than Rachel, and because of her beauty, Yaakov sought to marry her.”
On the other hand, Malbim notes that if Yaakov had been motivated by Rachel’s physical beauty, it would have been torture to wait – yet Scripture attests that the seven years for which he labored before marrying her “seemed in his eyes like a few days, in his love for her” (Bereishit 29:20). In Malbim’s view, this verse is evidence that Yaakov valued Rachel for something much deeper than physical beauty: “for he loved her because of the propriety of her deeds… And for this reason, it says “in his love for her”: because love of desire is self-love, not love of the other; but love of the good – one loves what is good, not himself.”
A Tuesday TorahTutors tidbit: real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.