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Section: Halacha   Category: Tshuvos
Btzel HaChochma: Can You Take a Picture of Someone Against Their Will?

While we may consider taking a picture of someone against their will a violation of privacy, other than annoy them have you done anything against them Halachicly? The Salmas Chaim says that although Al Pi Kabala a Ruach Tumah, or evil spirit is created, this Ruach Tumah rests on the picture and might not have any impact on the person photographed.

His only question is a gemara that says that you cannot profit from other peoples possessions. Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld dismisses this claim because you are not benefiting from his possession only from your own action of taking a photograph. Certainly if someone drew a picture from his recollection, you could not stop him. Similarly, if he snaps a picture.

The Btzel Hachochma (4:85) suggests that it may be assur. He bases this on the Halachos of copying seforim, where in the cases where it is permitted a major factor is that it is for Talmud Torah. Therefore copying ones image by photographing him may not have this Heter. Nevertheless he comes to the conclusion that it would be hard to make a case to stop someone from taking your picture.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.

RELATED ARTICLES:Btzel HaChochma  halacha  photograph  privacy

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Visitor Comments: 1

MF, Maaleh Adumim, 2008-11-19 06:56:33
Shalom Rav Shlomo Aviner Shilt"a (Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim and Rav of Bet El) recently answers this question on this Q&A radio show. Thought you might be interested - yashar koach!
Taking a picture against someone's will
Q: Is it permissible to take a picture of someone against his will?
A: It is a dispute among halachic authorities. There are authorities who say that it is forbidden, it is a sort of theft in which one steals personal ownership from a person. Ha-Rav Menasheh Klein brings this explanation in Shut Mishneh Halachot (4:114). Others say that there is no prohibition, since I have not stolen anything. This is the opinion of Ha-Rav Bezalel Stern in Shut Betzal Ha-Chochmah (4:85). He does agree, however, that while there is not prohibition, it is not ethic to take someone's picture against his will. My opinion is that it forbidden not on account of theft, but because one violates "Love your fellow as yourself." It is prohibited to damage another person whether physically or emotionally and I am damaging him. If I take his picture against his will, I certainly violate "Love your fellow as yourself."

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