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Spoiled 'Cheese'

Friday, 18 October, 2013 - 10:11 am


This week I found myself in a situation, where I felt so ashamed, I wished the earth should swallow me up. Here is what happened.

I was standing with Rivky at the entrance of a big shopping center, enjoying the wintry sun shining on us. 

A couple of meters away from us, a family was getting out of a nice car, a young woman with 2 small children and an elderly couple, who seemed to be her parents. They were all dressed very well and looked like respectable people. At the entrance of the mall the woman stopped  to pose for a picture with her daughters, asking her elderly father to take the picture with her iPhone. Up until here everything is completely normal for a family outing.

However, the grandfather didn't manage to take the picture, he simply couldn't figure out how to take a picture with the iPhone. His daughter shouts at him, first with a regular voice "push the button at the bottom", but he still doesn't find the right button, so she raises her voice impatiently "come on, it's just there, at the bottom....". But he still couldn't find it.

Just then a teenaged girl passes by and the woman asks her politely: "Could you please take a picture of us?". The girl is happy to help and takes the picture, not before the mother and her children say "cheese, cheese, cheese" at least ten times. 

The picture session is over and the woman goes over to her father, who is standing on the side, already feeling inadequate, and starts shouting at him really loudly "how many times do I have to explain to you how to take a picture?! It is so simple!!!" And he answers with a shameful voice: "I'm sorry, but I just can't figure it out". But she doesn't give in:"I have no patience to explain it to you anymore! It's so simple!"

Our hearts went out to this father/grandfather. In my opinion his daughter needs therapy as well as a good dose of education urgently. But what could I do, unfortunately there are people who act in such a nasty way, and even publicly.

What bothered me most of all was the "cheese"-moment, which the woman organized for herself during the picture. I can already imagine this picture, with the smiles pasted across their faces, which she might put on Facebook and the amount of 'likes' she will get. Because they really look like a very cute family.

Since I saw what went on around the picture, I knew that a smile was the last thing that fit into that moment. Believe me, my heart was crying about how terribly she treated her elderly father, but even more so, the impression which the children are getting, that the picture is intended convey something so unreal, so fake. Here we are smiling and everybody will think that we are having fun and we are a perfect family.

I once heard from a wise man who asked how come in the black and white pictures of our grandparents, which we find mostly in museums today, they always look so serious and are not smiling, whereas today you will not find one photo from a family event or trip where there's no 'ear to ear' smile?

He explained, that once upon a time nobody would think about faking a smile for a picture. Today, just try to keep a serious face in your family picture at a wedding and the photographer might just cut you out of the album.

I remember once I went to visit a learned man in his office, which was filled with many books, this was his pride. At the end of our meeting he invited me to be photographed with him against his distinguished library. But then he raised his voice to his secretary: "Why did you organize the books?" I did not understand what he wanted, isn't it nicer if if the books are neatly organized? He walked over to the bookcase and messed up the books a bit, explaining to me: "It is important the the books look like they are being used and are therefore not perfectly neat... It looks good."

Without much of a choice, I had to smile for the camera.

May we have the courage to smile to ourselves for REAL, and not for a passing camera lens.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Chaim 

Comments on: Spoiled 'Cheese'
10/18/2013

Naama Tsfati wrote...

Excellent ,thank you,you made me smile,for real! Shabbat shalom.
10/18/2013

Sara Hatav wrote...

Shabbat Shalom
10/18/2013

Steve wrote...

Why wasn't the father in the picture?
10/19/2013

Michelle wrote...

U Should Print this Lines And Sent it to The Person who embaressed nebech The elderly Father to learn what is a Real Derech Erez. Terrible!!! Gut Schabbes!
10/19/2013

Shloimi wrote...

ביג לייק.
10/19/2013

Rivky Friedman wrote...

Nice!
10/19/2013

Charlotte Ball-Green wrote...

So beautiful. Thankyou.
10/19/2013

Rupert Ball-Greene wrote...

OK so I'm an emotional basket case but this bought tears to my eyes. Then again it could by psychological projection on my part; if my genuinely delightful "smiling" 16 yr old daughter isn't close at hand I'm flummoxed by most Apple equipment ;-)
10/19/2013

Rupert Ball-Greem wrote...

OK so I'm an emotional basket case but this bought tears to my eyes. Then again it could by psychological projection on my part; if my genuinely delightful "smiling" 16 yr old daughter isn't close at hand I'm flummoxed by most Apple equipment ;-)
10/19/2013

Gary wrote...

Getting real with R" Chaim!! :)