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Caution, a Picture!


Taking a picture is the exact opposite of remembering. Sometimes, when we take a picture of something, we rely on the camera to remember it for us. We click, and by doing so, we in fact tell our cellphone: You should store and keep this moment for me.
The word "תמונה", picture, appears throughout the Torah 8 times, of them - 6 times, in this week's Portion, VaEtchanan. Moshe Rabbenu asks of us not to turn the Torah into a picture, not to make a statue or a painting out of it, not to turn the big idea that he gave us, into something tangible and physical that one can see: "...For ye saw no manner of form on the day that the L-RD spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire". This is a warning for Avodah Zarah, idol worship, a warning against being dominated by the statues or pictures that we ourselves would create. If there are pictures, there will be no living memory that will pass on from generation to generation through learning. We would simply take a picture and pass it on. Moshe Rabbenu calls upon us to etch, to absorb and internalize the experiences within us, rather than in a data cloud. It is precisely the fact that we do not have a photo album as a souvenir from the momentous event at Mt. Sinai that causes us to live in its light and pass the story on for thousands of years now.
This plea is relevant also today, perhaps even especially today: Which experiences do we keep and preserve in our minds and hearts, rather than in the memory of our cellphone?


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