It may be outdated to discuss the negative of a photograph yet I’m sure most of our readers will remember those plastic strips of film that showed a reverse of the picture one took. I’m not savvy in the technology of film development but I do know that those strips were the exact opposite of how we see things. The details of the image would be black where it is supposed to be white, white where it should be black and every blend in between. Once developed, the true likeness emerged on a sheet of photo paper.
In Rabbi Shalom Arush’s book, The Garden of Gratitude, he writes that the morning prayer begins with important reminders we should carry in our hearts all day long: A person should always fear Heaven in private as in public… When a person is with others, he is more apt to act like a completely righteous person, but when he is at home he completely changes. In this prayer, G-d reminds us that our behavior in private should reflect at least as much fear of Heaven as our public behavior.”
If we are just putting on a show when we are outside our homes, acting like angels, we are in essence being like a negative. It is the antithesis of the true us who berate our husbands, scream at our children or insult our wives. Would we behave as we do if we believed that our actions were being filmed for the whole world to see? Our conduct with our family portrays us as we really are and this is the picture which is revealed in the World of Truth. At the end of our days on earth, whatever happened behind closed doors will be exposed clearly for us, detail by embarrassing detail, as we cower in shame. And that isn’t to mention the irreparable damage we inflict on our loved ones in the process.
It is only human to act in a carefree and natural manner within the privacy of one’s household, but we must always see Hashem before us. We should be guided by the same rules, ideals, compassion and kindnesses which we would afford our friends and associates. Unfortunately, we are constantly plagued by the yetzer hara (evil inclination) which tries its utmost to destroy the peace and harmony within our family. Our children become prime targets during open season in the sights of the yetzer when essential restrictions are abandoned. Without prayer and holiness constantly on our lips, we all regrettably become fair game.
In Rabbi Lazer Brody’s lesson, Think Twice, he discusses hasty speech without forethought. He calls this ‘shooting from the lip’. When we snap back before thinking, we allow our animal instinct to respond ‘from our gut’. In most cases, this comes directly from the yetzer hara. Rabbi Brody teaches us a rule of thumb for self preservation; the Three Second Rule: “Whenever you’re at home in an interpersonal situation with your wife, with your children, and you really feel anger welling up in you, and you’re ready to explode, count to yourself ‘1001, 1002, 1003’ - now react. Don’t react within those three seconds. The adrenaline, that’s the yetzer hara. A person has no control over the brain when the brain is flooded with adrenaline.”
So as difficult as it is to suppress our spontaneous impulses it can be done with a little determined effort. Also, if we try to view ourselves as G-d sees us, we can surely humble ourselves into significant improvements. We owe it to ourselves and our family.
When we hold a negative up to the light, we see right through it, all the while observing the outline of the subject therein. This is how translucent we are to Hashem. He sees right through us as well, our soul and our thoughts. He is fully aware of our capabilities and deficiencies. Since He is omniscient, He has the ability to perceive both the photo negative as well as the final picture. But we have the free will to create the best shot possible.
The negative is the master image which is used for all future copies so we must ensure that it is the precise vision we want to develop. Any anger, criticism or violence, G-d forbid, will be shown as black against the backdrop of an overexposed film. A good photographer never shoots directly into the light but allows the sun to energize the surroundings. We too, should use Hashem’s Illumination through the teachings of our Rabbis to sharpen our holiness, brighten the darkness and discover any concealed aspects that are hiding within us. Then we will, with G-d’s help, produce a picture-perfect lifetime of spiritual beauty, exactly as our Creator had planned for us.