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Devarim 21:10-14 explains the law of an Eishet Yefat Toar.

The standard commentaries there indicate that she is desirable because of physical beauty. This also seems to be what the pshat is.

However, I recently heard someone insist that this is talking about a case where she is "spiritually beautiful", i.e. someone who should convert, but would not have ever thought about it if not for this. He brought as proof a statement from Chazal that the warriors were all tzaddikim, and would not have been attracted by mere physical desirability.

Are there any commentators who say this?

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    I didn't read all of it yet, but Ohr Hachaim to 21:10 seems relevant. – Shokhet Jan 27 '15 at 0:41
  • Achan was a warrior. I read last week in one of the first pages in the second artscroll volume of Sanhedrin that Achan did every single sin in the Torah in secret, therefore I don't think that Chazal holds that all warriors were tzadikkim. – Clint Eastwood Jan 27 '15 at 2:10
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    @Shokhet באה להעיר שבאמצעות היותו עוסק במצוה יגלה ה' את עיניו להכיר בגויה שיש בה יפת תואר שהיא נשמה הקדושה הנקראת יפת תואר כי זוהר נשמות הקדושות מופלא ועצום הוא וזאת האשה קנתה בה חלק זה הטוב ולזה קראה הכתוב אשת יפת תואר והכרתה הוא על ידי שאתה רואה שאתה חושק בה בזמן שאתה דבוק בשכינה באמצעות היותך עסוק בשליחות מצוה כאמור זה יעירך שלדבר טוב חשקת. – Fred Jan 27 '15 at 2:55
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    @Fred Seems like an answer. I'll take a crack at translating it tomorrow if you haven't posted an answer by then. – Shokhet Jan 27 '15 at 5:12
  • I heard in a shiur that the position of the tale of the wayward son which follows this shows that this is the inevitable result of marrying a yefat toar. I have also heard and read as others have mentioned that the yefat torar has a Jewish neshama which is why the soldier is attracted to her. – Malka S Feb 24 '15 at 20:02
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Thanks to Shokhet and Fred for pointing me to this answer.

The Ohr HaChaim on Devarim 21:11 says as much.

There's more, but i'll only quote some of it here. (Translations are my own.)

אלא באה להעיר שבאמצעות היותו עוסק במצוה יגלה ה' את עיניו להכיר בגויה שיש בה יפת תואר שהיא נשמה הקדושה הנקראת יפת תואר, כי זוהר נשמות הקדושות מופלא ועצום הוא, וזאת האשה קנתה בה חלק זה הטוב, ולזה קראה הכתוב אשת יפת תואר והכרתה הוא על ידי שאתה רואה שאתה חושק בה בזמן שאתה דבוק בשכינה באמצעות היותך עסוק בשליחות מצוה כאמור זה יעירך שלדבר טוב חשקת:

To summarize, because he is engaged in the mitzvah of fighting Hashem's enemies, Hashem will "open his eyes" and he will see her holy soul, and will desire her for that.

ודקדק לומר בה ולא אמר אותה, להעיר כי לא לאשה אתה חושק אלא למה שבה שהיא יפת תואר

And [the Torah] is careful to say בה and not אותה, to show that it is not her (the woman) that he wants, but rather the beautiful thing inside her (the soul).

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It seems that whenever the term "Yefat To'ar" is used, it refers to physical beauty. I'm basing this on my understanding of surrounding terms used in these examples:

Breishit 29:17

And Leah's eyes were weak; but Rachel was of beautiful form and fair to look upon.

In this verse, the Torah compares Leah's eyes - a physical feature, with how Rachel physically looked. See Rash"i, there, for an explanation of why Leah's eyes were that way. Point is, that it is clear that a physical comparison is made, here.

Breishit 39:6

...Yosef was of beautiful form (Yefe To'ar)

Rash"i, there, explains that he was teasing his hair, to improve his physical appearance. Furthermore, in the story that immediately follows, the wife of Potifar was attracted to his physical beauty. I doubt she was attracted to his brains alone. Certainly, Yosef's spiritual beauty was not attractive to her, because Yosef ran away from her, and she was annoyed about that - enough to make up a lie that put him in jail.

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    Although this might constitute an answer to the question in the title, this does not answer the question in the body of the OP, which specifically asks for commentaries that interpret the יפת תואר as spiritually attractive (even if such commentaries might not be על דרך פשט). – Fred Jan 27 '15 at 2:49

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