Photo Credit: Dror Garti / Flash90
A crowd of Vizhnitzer Chassidim (on Purim). The Rebbe decreed: no cameras in his wedding ceremonies.

There’s an ongoing war inside the Vizhnitz Chassidic dynasty, not over territory or power, as in other dynasties, but over principles, Kikar Hashabbat reports.

Apparently, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Hager of Bnei Brak, who was staying in Manchester England until today, Monday, on the occasion of the wedding of the daughter of his relative, millionaire Jacob Adler, is vehemently opposed to photographing major events in his court.

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But now the Rebbe has reiterated his long standing ruling that no Chassidic events are to be photographed, extending it to wedding ceremonies in which he is the officiating rabbi.

“I won’t agree to officiate at a wedding if the Chupa is photographed,” went the Rebbe’s edict.

This has also been the custom of the Rebbe’s uncle, Rabbi Mordechai (Mottele) Hager, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, who avoids the weddings of his Chassidim if they invite a video or stills cameraman to document it.

Now, I disagree with the exulted Rebbe on a few issues, most notably his aggressive approach against the IDF draft, and the fact that he is planning to join the vast delegation of Haredi rabbis who are flying to America to say loshon hora against the Jewish State. But I tend to respect and even admire his call on no cameras at weddings.

It coincides with the rather harsh edict reputably issued by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, which, supposedly, renders invalid a wedding in which one of the witnesses owns a smartphone.

My own life is not run by fatwas, so my decision making process is highly individualistic, but I’ve reached similar conclusions on my own. After many years of using a smartphone in New York, I’ve decided, in Israel, to switch to a dumb phone that gets calls and texts, but no emails and no Internet. Not because—unlike the Rebbe—I think those things are evil, but because I’ve experienced first hand how they removed me from life when they were tagging along on my person via the smartphone.

In the same vein, I know that people behave vastly differently with and without a camera in their midst. We’ve been practically desensitized to cameras all around us, and I believe this is a spiritual loss for all of us.

Privacy is so precious, the ability to act naturally in intimate social events is so important—why ruin it by acting to the camera?

Also, I believe nostalgia is the scourge of the human spirit. It’s an addiction which drags us away from the moment and into a haze of delusion about past realities. And so, to imagine these participants in a wedding wasting their future time leafing through fat picture albums is most unappealing.

So, honorable Vizhnitzer Rebbe, I totally dislike your anti draft hullabaloo, but I totally dig your awesome camera-free weddings.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. I personally know a photographer who is hired by families of rebbes who ban wedding photography. He basically brings bare bones gear and has had his life threatened many times when caught shooting. Poor guy gets paid well but it’s a dangerous job.

  2. To all those who have complaints against the Vizhnitzer rebbe Shlit"a, #1 he is the student of his Uncle and follows his uncle's rulings, #2 no one forces you to ask him to be mesader Kiddushin, you can ask someone else, #3 as far as the phone goes Yori Yanover himself sees the wisdom of not having a smartphone: but because I’ve experienced first hand how they removed me from life when they were tagging along on my person via the smartphone. This is the reasoning of the gedolim,they just try to get everyone to comply by saying the word "evil" but the true reason is because smartphones and the internet become the masters of one's life. The cartoonist from the cartoon Pickles brought that point home when Earl answered his smartphone while he was sitting on the pot.
    Once again, no one is forcing you to ask the Vizhnitzer Rebbe to be mesader kiddushin, and if this is what his chassidim want then they have to respect his conditions, ther e are plenty of other Rebbes and rabbonim who do not require this so chose between a photographer and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe. His son R' Chaim Meir who is the Vizhnitzer Rav of Boro Park announced that he will not have in mind for shofar anyone who has a smartphone so you have an option, either get rid of the smartphone or daven elsewhere. Plenty of shuls in Boro Park , no?

  3. Technology, cameras , video etc can and almost always is intrusive, and detracts from the kedusha of the moment. So, in this regard I agree .. however taking photos before and after should not be prohibited.
    There is a unseen danger of moving forward to prohibit things. All things created contain both good and evil. To prohibit the use of things can cause us to loose our personal ability to use our `free wiill`in choosing to use something for the good in an appropriate Holy way. Yes… the cell phone, computer, technology et al etc can be useful and appropriate tool .
    writenut-

  4. Shame on all of you! This decision is up to the couple. Future generations will want these pictures and you are robbing them of their family pictures and memories. It was bad enough that the Europe did this and now we have no records let alone pictures of our families but one it is the Rebbe's taking our past away.

  5. Leslie Sherman, you are so right! When my grandparents, ob'm, fled Poland ahead of the Nazis, they buried their family documents and photos in back of their house. When my aunt (their daughter born in the US after the war) went back decades later, and wanted to dig them up, the family living there refused – even though she offered them a large sum to recover them. ALL of us in the family feel the loss of this, to this day! If we lose our past, our future is in jeopardy; my bothers and cousins are named for people they never knew and never saw, so where is the continuity?

  6. My general comment would be that, as long as the camera doesn't interfere with the ceremony, making a vido of it creates a precious memory for the Chasan and Kallah. As you can appreciate, when they are under the chupah, they are in a different world and would likely welcome the opportunity to see the ceremony together, on their own, to celebrate.

    As far as the carmera during the rest of the evening, you say, "…the ability to act naturally in intimate social events is so important—why ruin it by acting to the camera?" No one is asking anyone to act for the camera,. So the person taking the videos comes by your table and asks you to wish a mazel tov to the Chasan and Kallah. What a nice thing to do for 30 seconds.

    Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chassidic-rebbe-boycotting-photographed-weddings/2013/12/30/

  7. This is not a comment by him on technology. Given his position, this will be interpreted as a p'sak of some sort. So, frumkeit moves further toward … I don't know what.

    He is redefining your religion. Are you OK with that?

  8. Dad… I really can't read this sh*t….. it's physically painful to me that these are even issues ppl are wasting their time making"laws" about. Oh wait. …. this fits in nicely with my rant about how most everything in orthodoxy is a "siyag l' whatever the hell" and NOT actually a real Jewish law. Just a law a rabbi came up with that then somehow becomes "halacha". Seriously, rabbis need to stop adding rules to an already obsessively rule filled religion. Can u tell this is a trigger for me!?! Hmmmmm

  9. I am wondering about that island we were supposed to buy from the Greek. Can we proceed with the purchase and make it a Medieval Jewish reservation, so the rest of us can practice Judaism in peace and without interference from the Flat Earth Society Ayatollahs?

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