What is Real Beauty?

Through this session, teens learn that the Torah values inner beauty rather than external perfection. What is inner beauty? Just as external beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so too is inner beauty. What you view as beautiful reveals what you value and what kind of person you aspire to be. So what do you think is truly beautiful?


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How to Give Over This Session (Teacher's Guide):
Before this session, show the video: Dove Real Beauty Sketches.
Remember how when the women saw the difference, they were almost crying? Beauty isn't just about the way we look. When the Torah talks about beautiful people, it is reffering to a different type of beauty. So what is beauty? Are we beautiful?

Miriam-Webster dictionary defines beauty in an external way - "the quality of being physically attractive." But in Judaism, we do not use the dictionary to shape our views. We use Torah sources.

Who in the Torah was considered beautiful? Esther, Sarah, and Yosef. When the Torah says these people were beautiful, it doesn't mean just external beauty - it means something more.

Brachos 5a - R' Eliezer cried because R' Yochanan was so beautiful, but one day he will die and his body will turn to dust.
Question: Why was R' Eliezer crying? Obviously he wouldn't cry over someone's external beauty. Hint: If it was talking about R' Yochanan's external beauty, it would have said that his face lit up - instead, it says that his arm lit up. No one thinks an arm is beautiful.
Answer: The arm is a part of the body that is normally covered, so when R' Yochanan rolled up his sleeves, it meant that his inner beauty shown through. He was such a beautiful person that when he walked into a room, it lit up. R' Eliezer therefore was crying that one day, this Tzaddik would leave the world.


Nedarim 9b - Shimon HaTzaddik met a Nazir who explained why he became a Nazir: He was afraid of becoming arrogant about his looks.
This source highlights the need to focus on the right values - beauty is much deeper than what you see on the surface.


We know that thee Torah thinks beauty is inner beauty, not outer beauty.

Question: But what is inner beauty? We need a concrete way to tell if someone is beautiful.

Answer 1 (Rashi on Mishlei): You can determine if a person is beautiful based on their reputation. What do people say about him? That girl - she's so nice and caring. That guy - he is like slime. Whats your reputation? What am I going to write on your recommendation letter? Imagine if you had to write God a recommendation letter in order to get into heaven. What would that paper say?

Answer 2 (Rabbeinu Yona): You can determine if someone is beautiful based on what they praise. Who you choose to praise and what qualities you choose to highlight are reflective of your own values. What do you aspire to be? (If you think the way to get into heaven is by being an awesome basketball player, but you're bad at basketball, you're in trouble.)


Trigger question for a DMC:
According to Answer #2 above -- As long as we value something, and think big - does that mean we are good to go? We don't actually have to DO anything to be beautiful? Is that true?