Rabbi David Kimchi, known as RaDaK for short, was a medieval biblical commentator. Most people are unfamiliar with his Torah commentary, because it is not included the classic Mikraot Gedolot volume of commentaries. Mikraot Gedolot on Navi (Prophets) does include his commentary, for which he is better known.
My son’s edition of “Torat Hayim,” first published by the Mosad Harav Kook in 1986, does include the RaDaK on the Torah. The Torat Hayim is so much easier to use than the Mikraot Gedolot. The commentaries have been edited and appear in large, clear print, not the annoying “Rashi” script. Rashi script, never used by the classic French medieval commentator Rashi, should be outlawed.
Today at our women’s shiur I quoted the RaDaK on the passage, ???? ???? ??? ???? ???? ???? “veRachel hayta yefat to’ar vifat mareh.” (Genesis 29:18). RaDaK writes that this means she did not have any blemish or disfigurement. He follows other commentators in saying that to’ar refers to the shape of her face, her features, and her posture, but adds that mareh refers to her flesh which was red and white, while her hair was black [like Snow White?]. I wonder whether this was the ideal of beauty in medieval Spain. I once read about a study that showed that across cultures, women with symmetrical features are considered beautiful.
The RaDaK goes on to ask why tzaddikim (righteous men), who are not guided by lust, should choose to marry beautiful women. He gives three reasons:
- A beautiful woman arouses desire, resulting in more children.
- Their sons and daughters will be beautiful.
- Beauty makes people happy. God “ordered” beautiful wives for the patriarchs and other tzaddikim so they should be happy with their lot.