February 1998 – Shevat 5758
Smile, You’re on Candid Camera or Big Brother is Watching You
The hidden camera installed by the father records the home day care worker sodomizing a 2-year-old ward.
A high school security camera records a student clutching her stomach and entering the women’s washroom, where she delivers and discards her baby into the trashcan.
A home video buff turns his attention from his backyard subject to record a group of police officers ruthlessly beating to a pulp a helpless suspect.
A police hidden camera records a dentist sexually abusing his anesthetized patient.
“Smile, You’re On Candid Camera!” It used to be that hidden cameras caught people in silliness or sentimentality, bringing out the lighter, endearing side of the human personality. Now hidden cameras are used to record what many used to think were unthinkable acts of depravity, violence, and violation of trust.
Jewish judicial codes actually favored the robber who takes in the open to the burglar who steals in secret, for while both violate the law against stealing, the latter commits the additional blasphemy of believing that “no one” sees.
To change the metaphor, one who speaks lashon hara`, slander, against another person in front of a large group, commits a sin that may be less severe than one who speaks lashon hara` before a small group. This is because with the large group the sinner sins openly, while with a small group the sinner may commit the additional blasphemy of believing that “no one” hears.
For us to live with qedusha, a sense of sanctity in our lives, we must conduct ourselves each minute with the knowledge of before whom we stand. As was inscribed above our Aron Qodesh, the Holy Ark in our small chapel: Da` lifnei Mi ata `omed — Know before Whom you stand.
It appears that sinners are not punished in this world. People can commit these terrible sins and if they are never convicted by a court of law, nothing seems to happen. God doesn’t go and strike them down.
But the same is true of one’s parents. Unless one is a child, one’s parents may have little say over what one does. Parents loose their power to punish as the child grows. But a decent child would feel shame before his or her parents if that child did wrong.
Every act I do, every word I say: I must ask myself, would my mother or father be proud of me, or deeply embarrassed? Let us test ourselves against this standard.
Every act I do, every word I say: I must ask myself, would Avinu SheBeShamaim (our Father who art in Heaven) be proud of me, or deeply embarrassed? Let us test ourselves against this standard as well.
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said:
Ponder three things and you will avoid committing an aveira [sin].
Keep in mind what is above you:
An Eye that sees,
An Ear that hears,
A Book in which all your deeds are recorded.