Ask the Rabbi

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Sefer Bereshit



Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Cheshvan 17, 5781
The Torah mentions Sara was beautiful. How exactly did she look? What does the word beautiful mean? I mean what makes Sarah beautiful and is the meaning of beautiful same for Avraham and pharaoh?
ב"ה Shalom, The Torah does not describe her physical features, it just points out her outstanding beauty. The Torah says in Avraham's words "I realize that you are a pretty woman…" In the Gemara in Megillah 14a it says that Sara was also called Yiska ,because everyone would speak about her beauty. (The name "Yiska" is play on words in Hebrew on the phrase "speaking about") . And in Megilla 15a she is listed as one of the most beautiful women in the world. (See also Sanhedrin 29B, Baba Batra 58a ). Also, the words of Rashi to Parshat Chayye Sarah (Bereshit 23:1) are well known that at the age of 20, she looked as if she was only seven years old. One the answers offered as to why our Rabbis spoke so much of her beauty, it to emphasize at the same time her extreme modesty in concealing her beauty. (Ben Yehoyada Megilla 15 a) and also to show the greatness of Avraham Avinu, who though he had the most beautiful wife and the most spoken about, he hardly paid attention to her physical beauty. (Noda Beyehuda Orach Chaim Vol I:24). Your distinction between Avraham's view of Sara's beauty and Pharaoh's view is very important. For Pharaoh's view is out of lust, while Avraham's view of beauty is one of cherishing and protecting that which is dear to him. All the best
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