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 I am certain that all of you are aware that because of the ubiquitous camera, which is built into our mobile phones, many people now take a picture of anything and everything even if it does not really concern them or impact their lives. We live in a generation where everyone lives in the present and everything must be immediately recorded and disseminated as widely as possible. Because of this, there are millions of pictures that are sent on the Internet every day and many of them are unwanted and unrequested by the recipient.

I have also noticed that for some reason or other I am regularly asked to pose for a picture with or without the person taking the picture joining me in posing for it. As a human being, I am naturally flattered that people want to have my picture. But I know that pictures on phones do not last long and they certainly do not have the feel, meaning and longevity of the old-time photographs that were suitable for framing and hanging on our walls to remind us of the past.
But except for the true camera junkies who persist in still using film, pictures today are like much else in our current society – temporary and disposable. I regret this turn of events but since I am hopelessly out of touch with my mobile phone and the functions it is meant to perform, I refused to really spend much time complaining about this matter.
On a regular basis, I receive pictures of my great-grandchildren sent to me by their parents. Naturally I treasure all these pictures for they are truly my pride and joy. However, since most of these pictures are sent via the Internet, they are of relatively short duration since my computer regularly cleanses itself of received mail. At times, some of my grandchildren do send me actual printed photographs of their charming offspring. And when the mood strikes me, I look at all these pictures. My great-grandchildren are growing older and wiser, but I still like to look at their pictures as infants. I know many of them personally by now and many know me as well, so viewing these pictures creates a bond of intimacy and family that I find to be satisfying and meaningful.
Since they are all living in the United States, I deeply miss having personal contact on a regular basis. So, the pictures being sent to me serve as a comforting connection to my future generations. Pictures evoke all types of memories and emotions. One has to be careful as to how and when to view them. They can cause one to be sad and depressed over what was and is not anymore or they can serve as a means of communication and comfort to what is and to what one actually does have.
Lately, in connection with a book that I am writing and hope to have published within this coming year, God willing, I sat for a professional photographic portrait. It is quite exhausting to sit for hours to have your picture taken. After all, I thought to myself, what could be so interesting about my face that it requires tens of exposures with different facial expressions and positions. Nevertheless, I always follow the wishes and instructions of my publishers and if they want me to sit for these portraits, I dutifully do so.
All of us have experienced the joy of having one's picture taken by a professional photographer at a family occasion such as a wedding. The photographer cajoles us into submitting ourselves for a long and uncomfortable time in an attempt to obtain the perfect picture that will make us look younger, handsomer and really happy at being able to pose for the picture.
Since I am pretty much a straight-faced person, my encounters with professional photographers have not always been pleasant experiences. Nevertheless, of the pictures finally taken, years later and years older, I am flattered by the rendition of my face captured by the photographer. So, I always continue to allow myself to have my picture taken.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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