At least 127 people have died all over the world so far while taking a selfie. They risked their lives to get a better angle and did not notice the abyss, the shark, or the car.
In India, a few days ago, special road signs were erected that read: “Danger! No Selfie Zone.” They were placed in touristy areas where dozens of people died just to snap a better photo that would bring them more Likes.
This is a kind of modern-day avodah zarah. These people martyred themselves for the sanctity of self-photography.
The word “temunah” (form, image) appears in the Torah eight times, six of them in last week’s parshah. A moment before the final separation, Moshe Rabbenu begs the Jewish people once again not to “make unto thee a graven image, even any manner of likeness” (Deuteronomy 5:7). Why? Because external reality is attractive, misleading, fake – and it is easy to be enslaved to it.
It is dangerous to believe only what we see. There are whole spiritual layers that are invisible. We should never flatten all of life’s depth and content into something external and be enslaved to it. After all, what is really important – as Moshe Rabbenu explains to us – is above and beyond our visual reality: “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of form on the day that the Lord spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire.”
We do not have any pictures from the Giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, and yet it still lives in our hearts and has shaped our lives for thousands of years now.