Thursday, June 11, 2015

The world's first "Halfie" (or "Half-Selfie")

After all my recent ranting about the deplorable phenomenon of so-called "Selfie" preoccupation, I finally bit the bullet and activated the self-photo option on my mobile device. Here it is, my very first and one-and-only self photo.

Why did I do it? Well, I'll attempt to explain the significance of this photo.

It was a typically busy Friday afternoon, and I was rushing to complete some last-minute shopping before Shabbos. I had just picked up my two sons, Mendy and Moishe, who had arrived for a weekend home after month of Yeshiva -- they attend a Yeshiva high school for boys out of town.To their credit, they chose not to accompany me shopping inside the store, and instead decided to meander the parking lot asking Jewish passers-by if they'd like to put on tefillin.

I must admit that at first, I wasn't pleased with their plan. "Listen guys," I said impatiently, "please be ready at the car when I arrive with the packages. We're in a hurry."

When I arrived some twenty minutes later, they were nowhere to be found. Needless to say I was annoyed. After circling the parking lot, I spotted the boys under an awning intended for shopping carts. Apparently they had set up an impromptu tefillin booth. My initial reaction was to yell out to call them in to our van. No time to waste. My wife was waiting for our groceries, and I was typically running late. However, as my car approached, I noticed another person inside their "mitzva booth" wearing tefillin, reciting the Shema with Mendy. So I pulled up along side the awning and silently waited for them to conclude. He was clearly having a tough time with the Hebrew. It had probably been a long time since this fellow had recited the Shema.

As I watched them through our vehicle's tinted glass, my impatience gradually turned to amusement. Before long, I was brimming with pride that my boys choose to spend their vacation helping other Jews do mitzvos, when they could have easily been in the store with me shopping for snacks and goodies most teenagers their age crave.

Initial photo taken traditionally, but through
closed window. My fingers and phone
reflected off tinted glass.
I was also inspired by a Jewish fellow who took off time from his errands to put on tefillin at the behest of an unfamiliar black-hatted Yeshiva boy, a bizarre spectacle for Framingham, Massachusetts.

It suddenly occurred to me that I ought to capture this memorable and inspiring image in a photograph. But how? The window glass was tinted and skewed the image. It didn't seem respectful to lower the window and take a photo of them. I certainly didn't want this man to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable by an amused onlooker photographing him in tefillin in a supermarket's parking lot, nor did I want to disturb his concentration during Shema.

Then I thought of the perfect idea. I'd pull up a bit ahead, roll down the window and inconspicuously take a self photo of myself in the foreground and them in the background. He'd have no reason to suspect I was photographing him. After all, taking self photos is a perfectly normal activity that Americans indulge in all day long, in the car, at work, home, just about anywhere. Self photography has become a ubiquitous hallmark of Western culture.

Hence the half-self photo. I wasn't really interested in photographing myself. I know what I look like already. It was just a pretext with which to photograph an awesome act of a Jew bonding with his Creator in the most unlikely of places, along with the selfless devotion of a young Jewish teenager who could think of nothing better to do than share the beauty and light of Yiddishkeit with a fellow Jewish shopper.

So there you have it, folks. The world's first "halfie," or "half-selfie," if you would.

Halfie's make much more sense than Selfie's do. When counting the Children of Israel, the Torah enjoined every individual to donate a half shekel. This reminds us that every individual is in truth half a person. One is only complete when we unite with another Jew. Nothing is more wholesome than a selfless act of kindness for a fellow. Halfie's rule!

Experience the joys of Halfie's!

Yours truly,
Rabbi Green :)

Everything in the world exists for a Divine purpose. The same is true for technology and all products of human ingenuity. As such, there must be a altruistic and selfless application for "selfie" technology too. Maybe this is it!

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