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Kedushat Levi: Vayeitzei: Elevating Beauty

“And Jacob kissed Rachel (Genesis 29:11).” “And Rachel was of beautiful form and fair to look upon. And Jacob loved Rachel (Genesis 29:17–18).” It is quite amazing that Jacob, the choicest of the patriarchs, about whom the Torah itself states, “and Jacob was a perfect man (25:27),” and one who observed all the Torah’s Commandments even before they were revealed at Sinai, as he himself said, “With Laban I have sojourned, but the 613 commandments I observed (Rashi, Genesis 32:5),” that he should have paid attention to physical beauty. It is especially amazing because the righteous person, by nature, is exactly the opposite, as it is written, “Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).”


I heard from my holy teacher, the Maggid, that the explanation is as follows: Our father Jacob, as is well known, worshiped God by means of the attribute of beauty. He elevated every spark of beauty, even if it was encased in gross corporeality, and returned it to its source. That is why we are told that Jacob kissed Rachel, who is beautiful, and that he loved her; for Jacob saw that Rachel possessed the spark of beauty, and by elevating it to its supernal root, he served God. (Kedushat Levi, Vayeitzei)

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