Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
Framed... Forever

Boy, how we show off our picture with the President or some other well know politician or famous personality!  Why does that have so much appeal to us in the frum community, or at least many members of it, even the most upstanding and ehrlich?  Yes, he may be the leader of the free world, city, or borough, but so what.  Sure the gemara Brachos (19b) says that we should run to see Kavod Malchei Akum, but only to get a taste of Kavod Malchei Yisroel, not to actually revel in it.  Indeed you criticize them and think you are smarter and better, but when you meet them personally, your true feelings come out and you melt in their shadow.

It is said that if you want to know what really interests a person, listen to the things he discusses.  By that same token if you want to know what a person holds in the highest esteem you can look at the smile on his face when he poses for a picture with someone.  Did you ever consider that the pictures you hang on your wall or put in your album may remain with you in Olam Haba to decorate your heavenly abode for eternity?  The gemara in Sotah (3b) says that Yosef HaTzaddik did not lie with the wife of Potifar because he did not want to lie with her in Olam Haba.  Rav Elazar says that the things we do here in our lifetime are tied to us like a dog in the next world.  Sure the Mayor is famous, but up there he may not be so a good person to hang out with for the duration.

On the flip side of this is an incredible opportunity in this world that you can never achieve.  Each mitzva that one does earns him incredible stature that cannot even be compared to the greatest honor in this world.  So if a person has done more mitzvos than you, the gap between you and them is far greater than the gap between you and the President.  Considering this the fact that you can stand in the presence of any one of our amazingly accessible gedolim (with little or no protexia) is positively mind boggling.  That is the beauty of this world.  It is small and the fact that it is a physical world means we are all stuck on the same planet no matter how many universe's separate us from the tzaddikim.

Keep in mind that this opportunity is for a limited time only.  In the gemara in Bava Metzia (85b) R' Zeira tells how R' Yosi b"r Chanina appeared to him in a dream and told him that in Shamayim he is near R' Yochanan who is near R' Yannai who is near R' Chanina who is near R' Chiya.  "Why isn't R' Yochanan near R' Chiya", asked R' Zeira?  "Can a blacksmith enter a place of flashes of fire and burning torches", answered R' Yosi.  In Shamayim there are endless worlds and everybody spreads out based on merit.  Only the lack of real estate in our crowded world allows us the honor to do the impossible, stand in a place of flashes of fire in the presence of tzaddikim.

When I was a very young child I had the privilege on several occasions to be admitted to the Satmar Rov, Rav Yoel Teitlebaum.  My whole life I always wondered how different I would have turned out had I owned a picture of me with the Satmar Rov staring at me from my wall.  With this lurking in the back of my mind, a few years ago I took my boys to visit Rav Elyashiv and I gave the gabbai our camera and asked him to take a picture of us with Rav Elyashiv.  Next thing I knew there was a crash on the floor and the gabbai was chasing after batteries rolling all over the room.  While the visit was indelibly etched into our memory, we will continue shopping for something nice to hang in our future home.  Too bad they don't have live size gedolim cardboard or wax figures. 

...and next time circumstances place you in the immediate vicinity of a popular star, be nice.  Offer to let them take a picture with you.  After all despite all their notoriety, they probably don't have any pictures in their album of themselves posing together with you the prince, the beloved child of the King of the universe.  What a privilege!