You Are So Beautiful To Me!

In Parshat Lech Lecha, Breisheet 12:10, due to a famine in the Land, Avram and Sarai go down to Egypt.


In sentences 11-13, as they were about to enter Egypt, Avram said to Sarai: “Behold, I now realize that you are a woman of beautiful appearance. It will happen when the Egyptians see you that they will say: ‘This is his wife.’ They will want to kill me and let you live. Please say that you are my sister, so that it will go well with me for your sake, and my life will be spared because of you.”


Rashi asks the question: How is it that after being married to Sarai for some time Avram first realizes her beauty now?


The Aggadic explanation is: Until now he had not been aware of her beauty due to the modesty of both of them. But now, he became aware of her due to an event. Midrash Tanchuma relates that they came to a river where he saw her reflection and realized how beautiful she was.


Rashi brings another explanation: It is usual due to the hardship of travel a person becomes unattractive but Sarai remained with her beauty.


Rashi’s simple explanation is: I have known for a long time that you are beautiful. But, now we will be coming amongst repulsive people who are not accustomed to seeing a beautiful woman.


We all know that when we are travelling, we do not look our best. Travelling back then was very different from travelling today so people probably looked a lot worse than we do after getting off a 12 hour flight or and eight hour ride on a Greyhound bus. Despite the fact that they were on a long journey coupled with the fact that Sarai was already advanced in age, it is nice to hear that Avram felt that she was attractive.


Living in the Land of Israel where they were not in danger, Avram may not have focused on Sarai’s beauty but now that he knew that she would be scrutinized by Pharaoh and the Egyptians he paid closer attention in order to make a plan that would ultimately save his life.


Two lessons learned from this episode:

  1. Don’t wait until you are in danger before you tell your spouse how attractive they are.
  2. You will score extra points if you complement their good looks on a long, tiring trip!