Is This a Picture You Would Send to the Rebbe?

“Something alarming has been happening lately. I open my social media, and there it is – it has a way of finding its way to my news feed.”

by Mrs. Ada Cunin for Anash.org

There’s a sensitive topic that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s taken me time to share my thoughts, but as Purim approaches, it seems especially relevant and important. Sometimes, things we put in writing don’t come across the way we intend them to; I hope those of you reading this will be able to ‘hear’ the care with which it was written. 

Something alarming has been happening lately. The challenge seems to grow each day. I open my social media, and there it is – it has a way of finding its way to my news feed.

We are shluchim and shluchos. Living, breathing extensions of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin. Yes, every single one of us – the Rebbe empowered us to be his emissaries, just by being Chabad! 

This is not about individuals, or about judging others. But there’s an issue that has been growing in our community, and it must be said: we need to pay attention to the photos we post for the world to see. 

The amazing gift of life’s special moments – upshernishes, bar mitzvahs, weddings, family photo shoots. Shared with family and friends on social media, allowing others to share in our simcha, and sharing in their joy, too. This is a beautiful thing. So why the need for this post? 

There has been an uptick in photos that are, simply put, not tznius. Among the beautiful shots of simchas and family vacations, there are often photos of couples standing or behaving in a way that is not suitable for Chabad chassidim. Is this necessary? Why would we post this for the world to see? 

The Rebbe spoke about chassanim and kallahs not taking pictures together. I enjoy seeing pictures of engagements, of family and friends at the Ohel for a simcha. I don’t claim to know what the Rebbe would say today, and I’m not coming out to say that the practice should be stopped. My question is more of a general one: where has our sensitivity gone? 

We are concerned about yeridas hadoros and the chinuch of our children. I think if we hope to address those issues, we need to go back to some basics.

It seems to have become normalized for couples to take pictures together that are not the most tznius. I see pictures of engaged couples participating in activities that were unheard of just a few short years ago. And when it comes to weddings, I’ve been told that influencer photographers make you SIGN and PAY if you don’t want your children’s pictures all over social media! 

Our teenagers think it’s standard for pictures at our weddings to look like they came from a non-Jewish bridal magazine. But this is not about bridal magazines, or photographers, or about if it’s right or wrong for chassanim and kallahs to take pictures together before their wedding. It’s about bringing back the sensitivity that is slowly eradicating itself from our midst.

Many of us enjoy sharing adorable pictures of our families on Purim. It’s a great opportunity to think about the images we capture and share! While we’re at it, maybe we can look through all our photos and delete those we wouldn’t send in to the “Shluchim book”, which was and still is prominently displayed on the Rebbe’s desk. We are the Rebbe’s children, and our pictures are precious.

May our efforts to regain our sensitivity and raise our standards bring the Rebbe much nachas and lead us to the ultimate revelation of geulah with Moshiach, now! 

Discussion
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  1. Wow! Thank you for being brave to speak out and sign your name on such an important issue. I’ve been thinking this for a while, but sometimes it almost feels like your the crazy one bc even “chassidishe” people are doing this so its easy to think maybe I’m just being extreme…
    Glad to see there still is people with sensitivity out there when it comes to posting pictures and social media in general. Things have really gotten far and fallen a lot in the last few years, maybe its time we rethink our standards as chassidim of the Rebbe!
    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and bringing awareness and sensitivity back!
    Moshiach Now!

  2. Totally agree but if the women of her home doesnt do her role by standing up for true Torah values then everything falls….and the next generation falls….. And throughout the generations it unfortunately does not get better…. its upto the women!

  3. I have felt this way for a long time.
    Social media destroyed our sensitivity of what’s personal and what’s public. What’s permitted and what’s not permitted. We need to consciously work to bring them back.
    We should also note that there are halachos that are being ignored:
    1) physical contact between male and female before married is FORBIDDEN.
    2) public displays of affection (even when permitted) awaken the yetzer in others and therefore NOT PERMITTED.
    I wonder if the younger generation even understand what is appropriate to send to the Rebbe? Maybe we need to explain what that means.

    1. I think having it taught properly would be very valuable. I would say that personally my “sensitivity” is higher than average, but I can’t say I was ever taught any clear guidelines about these things. It’s important to explain our values clearly to the next generation.

  4. So impressed with the humility in your writing. Delivered your point, without rebuke. Genuine care, without a trace of judgement, is found in every word. Mrs cunin, please write more!

  5. Thank you so much for posting! Dvarim hayotzim min halev and well written on a topic that is sorely necessary!

  6. I was scrolling through a photographer’s social media feed to see his work, and was horrified by some of the pictures, of apparently chassidishe couples.
    It’s important to understand that halochos of what’s permitted and what’s not permitted and what’s appropriate and what’s not between genders are designed to PROTECT us from our base instincts. They are there for our own good. And are there to protect us from grave sin.
    To the young photographers out there, don’t play with fire. It’s the Aibishter who provides you with parnosah, doing what He wants will only bring you brochos.
    Hatzlocha.

  7. Concerning Chossonim and Kallahs after the engagement party until the wedding:

    First of all, the Rebbe said that they should not take pictures together and especially not at any photo shop either.

    Secondly, the Rebbe objected to an engaged Chossan and Kallah even flying on the same plane together – to the extent that because of it the Rebbe refused to be the mesader kiddushin at their wedding despite their claim to the Rebbe that they didn’t know it was unacceptable.

    Thirdly, the Rebbe opposed any meeting between them altogether.
    Despite the story when Rabbi Leible Groner was a chooson where the Rebbe told him that he could meet not more than once a week – that was back then in 1954 when the situation was half normal and people were more decent. However, already in 1962 apparently when the Rebbe saw what was happening with all the hefkerus and breeches in tznius/yichud by engaged couples the Rebbe took off all the customary wedding date restrictions of not getting married the second half of every month, (except Adar,Elul & Kislev where the whole month was mazaldik) Lag Ba’omer, shloshes yemey hagbala before Shavuos – and said that it’s not proper for Jews and especially not for chossidim to meet before the wedding; they should concise the time in between as much as possible and just get married asap.
    See the Rebbe’s letter printed in Shaarey Halacha uminhog chelek daled page 92

    Holding just before purim here is another story furthering the issue.

    Reb Yeshaya Hertzel relates:
    As a choson, I was aware of the Rebbe’s
    directive not to meet the kallah during
    the engagement period, so we never met. However, when Purim came, my family managed to convince me that it’s alright if she joins us in a family setting for the seudah, since she will sit at a separate table. Since I conceded regarding Purim, as Pesach approached I was pressured again to have my kallah come for a yom tov meal. I wrote in to the Rebbe asking what to do, and received the following response: “Al
    horishonim onu mitzta’arim vechulu v’ata ba l’hosif aleihen?!” [“We are still pained over the earlier ones, and now you want to add to them” – Rashi on Shemos 18:2], meaning that the Rebbe was still pained from the Purim incident, and it was obviously out of
    the question.
    (Bakodesh Chazisicha, page 85)

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