Selling Model's Eggs
Selling models' reproductive services reveals a society that idolizes superficiality and externality at the expense of depth, meaning and inner quality.
One ruse to hit the internet was a web site where wealthy would-be parents can view photos of professional models and purportedly bid on their eggs.
Is Ron's A. a hoax? It doesn't really matter. The fact remains that his idea struck a deep nerve and left millions asking: Is there anything wrong with being beautiful? Don't we want what is best for our children? After all, modern society places a primary value on physical beauty. Why not give our children a head-start in the right direction?
Indeed, Judaism speaks at length about the role of beauty in our lives. From the very start, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God made trees that were "pleasing to look at and good for food" (Genesis 2:9). Why was the tree also "pleasing to look at"? Because God wants our environment to be not only functional, but also esthetically pleasing.
We see this theme also in the Holy Temple, where the Kohanim (priests) were commanded to wear beautiful clothes (Exodus 28:2). In fact, the Torah teaches a general rule to perform all mitzvahs in the most esthetically pleasing manner, based on the verse, "This is my God and I will glorify Him" (Exodus 15:2).
And... if you look in your Siddur (prayer book), you'll even find a special blessing to say upon seeing exceptionally beautiful people, trees or fields!
THE MEANING OF BEAUTY
According to Judaism, the natural world parallels the spiritual world. The unity and perfection of creation taps us into the unity and perfection of the Creator. In fact, Maimonides writes that a primary way to connect to God is by meditating on the wonders of nature.
But beauty is not an end unto itself. Attractive physical features are to help focus us on the deeper internal beauty - patience, kindness, wisdom. Of the four beautiful women singled out in the Talmud - Sarah, Rachav, Abigail and Esther - all are chosen based on their exceptional righteousness.
The problem with selling models' eggs is that it puts the emphasis in the wrong place. Madison Avenue has convinced the Western world to be obsessed with weight, complexion, and fashion. The peer pressure and media barrage promoting cosmetic surgery and psychopharmacology is overwhelming. Now imagine the burden on a child with a weight problem and pimples - whose parents paid a fortune for a miniature Farrah Fawcett.
Actually, physical beauty can be a difficult challenge. How so? Imagine a beautiful 3-year-old girl who constantly hears: "Oh, how pretty!" The refrain rings repeatedly in her ears throughout high school, college and beyond. This little girl may come to believe that her value as a person lies in her beauty alone. Thus she may be less motivated to develop other, more intrinsic aspects of her personality. Of course, this in no way means that a beautiful woman cannot be wise and kind as well! But for her, it may be more of a struggle to make the "non-physical" voice be heard.
EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL?
The real import of Ron's A. is how the notion of selling beauty became an overnight internet phenomenon. How does this reflect on a society that idolizes superficiality and externality - at the expense of depth, meaning and inner quality?
King Solomon wrote: "Grace is falsehood, and beauty is nothing, but a woman who fears God is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30). This means that grace and beauty -- as goals in and of themselves -- are nothing but falsehood. However, "a woman who fears God is to be praised" -- not only for her fear of God, but also for her beauty. Because her external beauty is a symbol of a richer, internal beauty.