Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin

A body is a beautiful thing, especially if you have one that's good looking.

You know it feels good to be attractive... "Hey, handsome come sit next to me!"

At times when we're overwhelmed with our own cute looks or the "knockouts" that surround us - it's very, very hard to take seriously that beauty is only "skin deep"!

Ask yourself: What lies beneath our "skin deep(s)"? What mystery lurks below our own surfaces? Is it "Jaws"? (Sorry, only kidding), or is it our blood vessels etc. only? (Don't get nauseous, especially if you're pre-med).

So what am I getting at?

Well, it has to do with really defining ourselves. If you're nice on the outside, what are you really like on the inside? What is it that makes us totally HUMAN? Why the fuss about how we relate, and understanding relationships?

And as a follow up: What's the basis of our respect for each other and our mutual attraction beyond the nice face, sexy smile, and our ability to swivel our hips and toss our hair? (Is this guy for real?)

Obviously it's not enough for mutual respect to be based merely on mutual attraction or admiration. We respect our friends, relatives, and baseball heroes not because of their looks or money, but because they mean more to us.

We have an instinctive regard for our "near 'n dear" ones because we somehow feel there is more to them than their great smile of good looks (which they might not even have). We relate to them on a deeper level.

Maybe that's what real relationships are all about: Reaching beyond what our eyes, ears, lips (and nose) tell us, and begin to "take in" people around us on a more refined and meaningful level.

We are all basically capable of relating to other human beings not merely as animated life-size Barbies - but as real honest-to-goodness members of human (as in "humane") kind. (If you can't, then you're possibly suffering from "R.D." = Relationship Disorders or something like that. )

A human being, in the teachings of Judaism, is made in the image of the most beautiful Divine Being. Each of us has a "spark of the Divine" within us (a.k.a. the neshama or soul).

It is the soul that is really the mystery buried deep within us, teaches Judaism: it's like a warm glowing E.T. light warming you up, making you come alive (in all senses of the word).

Once you become aware or conscious of this truth you'll never be the same and you'll always view others differently. You will then begin to relate to them differently as well, but it takes practice and study.

You'll begin to relate to others as not merely walking mannequins to be used for selfish pleasures - but as bodies and souls that are higher-order beings worthy of respect and dignity. Maybe there is something to be said for Platonic love after all. (Nice try, oh well).

And so our relationships with people around us change when we can begin to discern the "Tzelem Elokim" (Divine Image) in them.

It's interesting that Judaism teaches that there are three partners in the making of a human being: Our parents provide the bodies (thanks Mom & Dad) and our spiritual components come from "up on high" (and I don't mean Star Trek).

This means that when we are in the close company of someone we love (or hate) we need to be aware of their human and divine origins. This understanding must then alter, guide, and determine our relationships with our fellow earthlings.

If the person standing, sitting, or lying next to me is seen as a composite of physical, spiritual and complex emotional parts that are all wrapped up together, then I should automatically begin to relate to that other person with greater sensitivity... and this is only a beginning, because it's obviously even more complicated and complex (which is what we are).

People feel hurt, used, abused, under-appreciated in relationships because the inner depths of who they really are, and what makes them tick, was ignored, They were useful for what they appeared to be (perhaps) but not because of who they are deep within themselves.

All relationships require dealing with other human beings with greater appreciation for their non-bodily qualities. Think about it.

Maybe its time to redefine our interactions and relationships with our families and friends. Begin to understand that a deeper perception of people is one of the first building blocks for the way we relate to, and treat them. Hopefully too, those around us will begin to see us differently as well.

Who knows, it might be the beginning of some great relationships! What do you think? If you'd like to respond write to me at J.P.I. I'll keep you posted.


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