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Sefardi-Jewish Topics

The beauty myth: The case of Leah and Rachel for instance…

 The story of Leah, Rachel and Jacob  is one about  the beauty myth,  love triangle and jealousy and competition between the sisters. She was caught in conflict with her sister  Rachel for the man she came to  loved. The story is found in Genesis chapter 29.

As described in the Bible, Leah was homely, with weak eyes. This could mean that she had poor eyesight or that her eyes lacked beauty and sparkle. Her younger sister, Rachel, on the other hand was beautiful and physically attractive.

When the young man, Jacob, came to town and saw Rachel, it was love at first site. After a month of working for her father, Laban, he asked for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laban consented if Jacob would work for him for seven years as payment or dowry first. Jacob was smitten with her. He completed the seven years of work and anticipated the long awaited marriage.

A great wedding feast was held and when evening came, as was the custom, the veiled bride was led into the bridal chamber. There, in the dark, Jacob spent the first night with his bride, but the light of day brought an unwelcome surprise. The untrustworthy Laban had secretly substituted Leah for Rachel.

Jacob was understandably upset at being deceived and confronted Laban, who hedged, saying that the older daughter must always marry before the younger. So, if Jacob would just finish the marriage week with Leah, he could marry Rachel too and then work another seven years for her. Jacob accepted the terms. He must have been very much in love to agree to another seven years work for Rachel and then the man , her dad who so cruelly deceived him.

We aren’t told whether Leah was a willing participant in the deceitful wedding. If she was, it is possible that she saw it as a way to win Jacob from her sister or she may have thought this was the only way that she would ever marry. This where you see  how man-made rules may put you into fellowship with men – but not God.  Laban maliciously followed traditions of his land. “Not so is it done in our place to give the younger before the elder”… Genesis 29-31. Notice he was an idol worshiper Genesis 31:19

Thus, the stage was set for an unhappy home. Jacob loved his wife Rachel but the Bible says that Leah was despised. She embarked on the unfruitful occupation of working to win her husband’s affection. There followed many years of jealousy and competition between the sisters.

Why and how Jacob came to love Rachel . We give you some hint … Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Genesis 29:17.

Leah suffered with the beauty myth.  Life can be incredibly unfair, but I think we have the option – if not the outright obligation – to make it less unfair. Especially those of us who come from a place of privilege. Whether it’s about beauty or size or race or sexuality, the status quo isn’t going to change unless we call it on its bullshit.
 
Some people had always and are  having trouble with separating the notion of inherent value and aesthetic appeal, at least for women. I think it’s the telling. I think the issue is some women face is dissociating the two, and can you actually blame them entirely? when man are so visually oriented, look Jacob was not indifferent to Rachel’s beauty it’s very  clear in the Scriptures so should be follow such example? it is a good example?
 
Women spend a lot of time obsessing about their own looks, but men also spend a ridiculous amount of time obsessing over women’s looks too. Rachel was pretty but Leah was not.
 
Women are told or taught from earliest childhood that the only valuable and worthwhile thing we have is our bodies. Have you been paying attention to the coverage of  Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Janet Reno, Michelle Obama, even the lastest alleged Russian Spy Anna Chapman ? THAT is why we’re underrepresented when it comes to power – the public debate is always about our bodies and what we do with them, and only parenthetically about our ideas or accomplishments. Trying to take the public debate to a saner and more just place is an immensely worthwhile endeavour.
 
If women weren’t valued for how they look, this wouldn’t be so important. But we are. And how we look has become public property to judge and comment on whenever and however other people want to. There’s an entitlement to women’s bodies that is EXTREMELY relevant to all media discourse.
 
The beauty ideal is what limits women because of the structure it creates and perpetuates. Not because individuals are affected by it, or influenced by it, or criticize it.   Being a woman, whether you’re considered beautiful or not, is difficult and full of assumptions and sexism.
Seeing women of various shapes and sizes, of diverse ethnic backgrounds, all considered “beautiful” helps diversify the ENTIRE concept of beauty. Which further diversifies and breaks down the idea that beauty is our most defining quality, because if all kinds of women are beautiful, then it has way less power.
 
That’s significant. And I absolutely refuse to sit back and act like that doesn’t matter. What’s “unfair” is other women continuing to trot out these tired tropes. We’ve been told this before. And I’m sorry that some people don’t see why it matters. But I’m sick to death of any lady or women being scolded about it.   My parents also taught me to think critically, encouraged me to ask questions, and never just accept the status quo for what it was.  Others  think of myself as atractive, smart and succesuful but what about those ‘Leah’ in our midst ?  Laban his dad was following man-made rules or traditions of his land.
 
One important truth was and is that  a godly life did not necessarily mean following a list of rules, but rather it meant having a relationship with their creator.   Yeshua realized in order for mankind to be reconciled (to make it right) to God, someone would have to bridge the gap between God and mankind. And Yeshua did exactly that. He came to earth and taught people the ways of God.  Should  beauty  be a myth or a  just a plain reality vthat we have to deal with?
 

About Anni Orekh

Anni Orekh (which translated from Hebrew means: I m an editor (Publisher) it is the online pen-name of author and Managing Director of MD Enterprises.

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