Section: Daas Torah   Category: Rav Shimshon
Is Seeing Believing? Ask The Camera

Have you ever seen family pictures with everyone smiling? You'll see the smiling happy faces as if life is just grand, of adults who are not on speaking terms with each other and kids whom it took ten minutes to get them to stop fighting and smile long enough for the photographer to say "cheese" and not a second more. The camera does not tell the whole story it is a snapshot in time. Who is the biggest liar in the world? Rav Shimshon always said it is the camera.

He had many interesting examples of this but two in particular stand out in my mind. He once went to a Holocaust exhibit in the Bnei Brak fire station (what he was doing there is a whole separate topic of his). Being the first time he had really seen something like this he walked out horrified at the images. How can such atrocities happen to Am Yisroel? How could it be that there were so many Yidden who not only stayed Frum but were even michazek their emunah through the fires of Auschwitz? At that point he realized that the pictures were a forgery. What the camera omitted was the Shechina that stood there side by side with every Yid. Imo Anochi Batzara. That side of the story a picture cannot relate. But the kedoshim who had their eyes open saw it.

In another example, Rav Shimshon often would say that if we'd see the Vilna Gaon in person we would not be able to get near him without being burned alive by the Kedusha. Even though we have pictures of the Vilna Gaon they are frauds. They don't relate who the Vilna Gaon really was.

What is the difference between human eyes and a camera? The eye has a complex brain behind it that processes not only the visible elements but also takes into account many other factors such as our past experiences, our common knowledge, and most of all in our case our emunah and our heritage. Of course a camera cannot see Hashem. Neither can a person without a brain. The mind's eye needs to be open. The eye alone is just another digital camera. The deeper and greater the mind the more one can see. That is what it means that with the Ohr HaTorah tzaddikim can see "MiSof HaOlam Ad Sofo". They can perceive and understand world events without reading a newspaper.

With all due respect to Rav Shimshon I believe he would agree that while maybe he couldn't walk into a room with the Vilna Gaon and come out unharmed by the fire, we on the other hand would probably have trouble picking out the Vilna Gaon from a lineup. Are our eyes any better than a camera? It all depends on your mind's eye or better yet the strength of your Torah eye.