In Search of Chayn- CTD #122
THERE IS SOMETHING pleasing about walking into a clean and orderly room.
It is certainly a lot nicer than entering a messy room.
Pleasant people, and especially POLITE people,
are not only enjoyable to be around,
they draw others toward them.
People will go out of their way to be in the presence of such individuals.
Likewise, we are far more impressed by someone who is dressed just “right.”
If they are unkempt, or over-dressed,
it is disturbing.
It can even interfere with an otherwise decent relationship because,
and this is the important point,
it detracts from their chayn,
the basis of any good relationship.
Chayn is greatly underrated.
It’s barely mentioned in the Torah,
though when it is, it is at a VERY crucial time:
Noach found chayn in the eyes of God. (Bereishis 6:8)
It saved his life and family.
It does show up other times,
but usually in a context that just means that someone found favor in the eyes of another.
The implication is that there was something likable about a particular person,
which in Yosef’s case endeared him to much of Egypt.
Chayn is one of those things that seem obvious and incidental,
but in fact it is not so obvious and certainly not incidental.
In a very real way,
chayn is what life is ALL about.
It is the endgame,
the goal of all our work in this world,
spiritual AND physical.
And yet, so few people achieve it.
Why is that?
Not everyone is born handsome or beautiful.
But just about everyone can easily enhance their physical appearance.
They can even pay a doctor to change how they look,
but none of it requires much spiritual development,
if at all.
Increasing one’s physical “chayn” can be as easy as buying a new pair of glasses.
Physical chayn is easily accepted.
People can become infatuated with one another by physical presentation alone,
before they have even introduced themselves.
People have fallen in love,
or so they think,
with glamorous or famous people they have never met in person.
It’s quite easy and “natural” to do.
Talent alone can sell a person to the masses.
Spiritual chayn is VERY different.
It is what emanates from the core of a person’s spiritual being.
If it is in good spiritual shape,
the person will be nice, do nice things,
and project chayn to the world.
If it is not in good spiritual shape,
the chayn will be either limited or missing.
This is why character refinement is so important,
especially for children.
Torah is specifically designed to make a person responsibly spiritual.
Its philosophy is intended to impact a person’s outlook and make them see the world as God does.
It is SUPPOSED to help a person develop a positive demeanor,
which people pick up as chayn.
Even the way people tell a joke says a lot about who they are.
Some tell jokes to get the attention of others,
positive or negative.
They’re not so concerned about what the humor will do for the other person,
just as long as they get the kind of feedback THEY need.
Not much chayn projected there.
Other people love to make people laugh.
Their joy is giving joy to others.
It makes them feel good to make OTHERS feel good.
It makes them feel even better to make others feel good in a meaningful way,
which for them means “free humor.”
What is “free humor”?
It is humor that does NOT come at the cost of something important.
If a person needs to be rude to be funny,
it is humor that comes at the cost of self-dignity,
theirs and that of those who heard the joke.
If they embarrass someone to get their laugh,
it has come at the cost of human decency,
which the Torah calls a form of murder.
Even the secular world calls it “Character Assassination.”
the Talmud says that anyone who has true chayn by definition must fear God.
At first it seems as if chayn and fear of God have little to do with each other.
Until, that is,
one realizes that chayn is a function of the soul,
not the body.
Or at least it should be.
There is a level of chayn that is the result of the physical,
without help from the spiritual.
To be clear, this IS a level of chayn,
but a very shallow and temporal one.
It is to this that Shlomo HaMelech referred when he said:
Chayn is false, and beauty is waste. (Mishlei 31:30)
Clothes do NOT make the person.
They may help them get the initial attention of others,
but little else.
An attractive appearance can turn heads,
but an attractive soul turns people.
It brings out the chayn in others,
and makes the world a better place.
Even the letters of chayn hint to this: Ches-Nun.
The gematria of Ches is 8, and of Nun is 50.
Eight is one more than seven,
and 50 is one more than seven times seven.
Since seven represents the physical realm,
eight and 50 represent the world beyond the physical one,
the SPIRITUAL one.
Quality of life,
especially relationships with others,
is completely dependent upon the chayn-level at any given point in time.
If the attraction of two people is physically-based,
it will be a shallow and meaningless relationship.
The soul of every person wants MORE,
and it can only get it from a spiritually-driven relationship.
In fact, just as temperature is measured with a thermometer,
so should chayn be measured by its own kind of thermometer.
All a person has to do is ask,
“How much chayn am I projecting now?
What about the other person?”
Chayn is such a key ingredient for life that it is the root of words such as “chinuch,”
which means “dedication.”
A person can learn an incredible amount of things in life,
but they must be taught about the chayn of the knowledge,
and how it can help better project their own chayn to the world.
Likewise, every person has to be dedicated to something.
they’ll have a tough time getting out of bed in the morning and
finding the energy to accomplish meaningful things.
They should be dedicated to developing their chayn every opportunity they have.
Chanukah is the holiday of chayn.
Now, more than ever,
its message and opportunity are invaluable
Not only has the real chayn gone missing for so many,
it has been replaced with superficial kinds of chayn.
It’s a real victory for the Greeks and Hellenists of history.
We need to reverse the trend.