In a recent interview, a famous celebrity was asked why she never smiles for pictures.
She responded, ‘Actually, I rarely ever smile. I do my best to avoid it, because when you smile, your face wrinkles up. The more you smile, the more those wrinkles become permanently etched into your skin. I don’t want to have wrinkles as I get older, and so I avoid smiling.’
I read this report and I thought: What a poor soul. She refuses to live her life today with joy so that one day in the future, she can have an ounce more satisfaction when she looks into the mirror. How sad.
The prophet Isaiah declares, “The recognition of their faces answered for them.”
The Mishnah states: One may not testify about the death of a person unless he discerns the form of the face including the nose, even though there may be other signs on his body or clothing.
Your face says a lot about you. The Malbim comments on the verse in Isaiah that the face reveals the deepest secrets of the soul. True physiognomy, he says, is the ability to read the character of the soul as it shines forth through the face.
Many of us can tell from a person’s demeanor whether they are generally positive, optimistic people or if they are despondent, negative individuals. But a tzadik – a righteous person – often has the ability to read much deeper into the recesses of your soul to discern your character and life experiences.
While most of us cannot do so presently, when Moshiach comes all will be revealed. It will be like you’re walking around with all to see who you truly are. Those who have refined their character will become the most physically beautiful in the time of the resurrection and those whose souls are ugly will have ugly faces. Now is the time to refine your soul to shine forth and burst with sunshine all over your face.
On the flipside, since the face and the soul are so intertwined, a good way to refine your soul is simply to smile a lot. The more positive a face you have, the more cheerful a soul you will have. True, in the beginning it might be an effort to smile all the time, but I promise you, after a while your face kind of falls into those pre-etched wrinkles and it becomes easy! What’s more, people start smiling back at you when you’re always smiling at everyone!
Your face reflects your soul. Your face already says a lot about your character. One day, people will be able to read you like a book. May you merit a shayna punim – a beautiful face – in this world and in the Time to Come!