The Pictures You Can’t Take

Orthodox Jews do not use a camera on the Sabbath. We have no way of physically recording the events that touch our lives during this period, except in our minds and hearts. The disadvantage is obvious; but perhaps the advantage is too. When we married, there was a funny moment as my new husband and I walked down the aisle right after the ceremony.

Our rabbi leaned between us and said, “you’re married now, you can hold hands!” My new husband reached down and took my hand and the photographer captured that moment – of his hand reaching for mine; of the rabbi’s face between ours. The problem is that over the many years we have been married, the picture that has solidified in my mind is wrong. I’m in the picture seeing me there smiling and looking off as my husband took my hand.

The advantage to capturing the picture in your mind is that it stays untouched, unaltered. I have a picture from my youngest son’s bar mitzvah two years ago. It was Friday night and the boys lined up in front of my husband for a blessing. They lined up in age, all of them. Yaakov and then Elie, Chaim, Shmulik and finally Davidi and as I watched as my husband put his hands on Yaakov’s head to say the traditional blessing, I wished for a camera.

And yet, perhaps because I didn’t have one, the picture remains there in my mind, so clear that it brings a smile each time I think of it.

This Shabbat, Shmulik was called to the Torah – the Shabbat before he marries. It was an amazing Shabbat, filled with friends and family and food. We ate Friday night at home with close friends and arrived at the synagogue Shabbat morning early. Chaim has a beautiful voice and agreed to lead the first part of the service.

Davidi read a part of the Torah, then a friend’s son read the remaining part. Shmulik’s teacher of many years called Shmulik to the Torah. Shmulik read his part beautifully, blessed and was blessed and then we threw candies to him and at him.

With Yaakov and Chaim, our sons number five. We’ve semi-adopted two young women as well. One came to us when her parents still lived in America. I had to officially “un-adopt” her when our friends moved her last summer and yet she still holds a special place in our family. I consider her semi-adopted – she blends into our family completely and easily. As Aliza, my youngest asked me at one point, “even if she isn’t your daughter, she’s still my sister, right?” Our second semi-adopted daughter came to us through this blog, though why she was reading it, I can’t remember. She contacted us, we connected, and she’s now so much a part of our family as well.

I looked around at these young people who are mine – from birth, from love and sharing and was so filled with happiness. These were some of the pictures I couldn’t take today.

A close friend of the family with a most amazing voice (the much loved step-father of our first semi-adopted daughter and husband to a dear friend) led the last part of the service, bringing joy to my heart and those who attended. Other friends joined in to share the day. Some spoke, some participated, some brought cakes or salads, helped serve or clean.

After the service was over, it was time for lunch with many of our friends. What comes to mind as I now cope with loads of dishes are the pictures I couldn’t take with a camera, but know will remain in my mind and heart.

Of Chaim leading the service, his beautiful voice singing.

Of Davidi wearing his father’s tallit (prayer shawl) as he read from the Torah.

Of Shmulik being called up for his portion and of the candies that went flying through the air. Of Uriel calling Shmulik to the Torah; of Elan’s voice; of the laughter when our friend, Shelley, spoke; of the friends who helped me set up the place and then take it apart.

And of friends talking and laughing. Of laughter and hugs and the wonderful feeling of sharing a most amazing day with those we love. You have to remember to keep a spare battery for those cameras that take pictures; for the pictures I took today, you need only close your eyes and remember.

4 Comments on The Pictures You Can’t Take

  1. Mazal tov! I totally agree about not having photos on Shabbat. Those are the memories we keep locked in our heart and unlock them for ourselves at appropriate moments.
    To the couple:
    תזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל

  2. Mazel Tov to all! Baruch Hashem

  3. I agree about not needing those Shabbat pictures – but my daughter couldn’t agree. She has photographed all of her milestones and so when her firstborn’s bris turned out to be on first day Pesach, she did a (very partial!!) re run getting dressed up, baby on pillow etc the following day.

    Mazel Tov to you all

  4. MAZEL TOV! What a beautiful memory to hold on to

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