The Camera that Could See “Inside"
My Bubie says that dreams can be very powerful messages that we receive while we are sleeping. Sometimes, a person from Heaven can even talk to us in our dreams and help us to make important decisions or help us not to be afraid. My Bubie says that her Bubie and Zadie often come to her in her dreams to tell her that she shouldn’t be afraid and things will be alright. One time, her great-Zaidi, whom she had never met, came to her in a dream and spoke Yiddish to her. What is interesting about that is that my Bubie doesn’t speak Yiddish but she understood everything that he said to her! When she told my Tate (Father) about the dream, she told him in English what her great-Zaidi had said, but was sure that he was speaking Yiddish to her and that she understood him.
This story is about a unique camera that a young girl received for her 12th birthday. It was a gift that she had dreamt about receiving for a few years. Through the lens of the camera and the power of a dream, this young girl was able to bring happiness to others.
Sara wanted a camera so badly that she dreamed about having it, thought about it every day and whenever someone asked her what she wanted, she answered the same thing each and every time. She had wanted a camera since the first time her Auntie brought her camera to take pictures of her and her siblings to send to their grandparents. She was so fascinated that this small little metal box with a funny flash could, when you pushed a button, freeze the image it focused on and save it in a tiny, square screen. Oh, after that she knew she had to have one of those magical image makers. Whenever anyone in the family brought their camera, she would scoop it up and run inside and outside snapping away at whatever interested her.
Sara was so excited. Her parents told her that for her 12th birthday she could have a camera. This was six months away and she had decided to research where to go to purchase her “dream birthday gift”. She spoke to friends who owned cameras to get recommendations, she visited camera shops near her home, and she asked her Bubie and Zaidi to look on the computer for the best price for a camera. All of this work would take some time, but she was sure it would all be worth it when that glorious day arrived in which she would own her very own camera!
Every day, after school, Sara began visiting the camera shops in her neighborhood. She learned a lot about the different types of cameras, from mirrorless cameras, point and shoot cameras, bridge cameras, instant cameras, action cameras, rugged cameras and others which she knew no one could afford to buy a 12-year-old for her birthday. She wondered if it made sense to buy a regular point and shoot camera or an instant camera that printed her pictures immediately after taking the picture. The paper used to print the picture can be expensive. With a regular point and shoot camera you have to buy a memory card to save all of the pictures you take. Then, you need to take it to a photo store to develop the pictures and that too can be expensive.
Sara pondered her choices. She knew that whatever camera she received for her birthday, she would somehow need money to develop her pictures, so she needed to take that into consideration when deciding what camera she wanted to buy.
“By the time I turn 12, I should have this all figured out”, thought Sara to herself. This was actually part of the enjoyable aspect of her receiving her gift, learning about what would be best for her to buy. The pursuit of something you dream about can sometimes be as good or even better than the gift itself, her Bubie had once told her.
The day of Sara’s birthday was soon arriving and she had decided to buy a point to shoot camera. She thought that she would purchase a few memory cards so that she would not run out of space too quickly, for all of her pictures. She was prepared to take other money that she received for her birthday and Chanukah to pay for the developing of her photographs.
On Sara’s birthday, her Bubie and Zaidi took her to the camera store in her neighborhood and there they bought her camera! You have never seen such an excited and happy child as Sara was, on the day she had realized her dream of owning her very own camera! “Nothing is better than having a dream and seeing it fulfilled,” thought Sara to herself.
The very next day, Sara, with camera in hand, went out to shoot some photos. At first, when she looked into the lens, she saw her subject and simply, clicked. There on the screen was her photo, “too exciting she thought!” However, something began to change with each picture she took.
At first, she didn’t pay attention to what she was looking at through the lens, but then, she could not help but pay attention. “What am I seeing?” She asked herself. “This is strange, this is something more than what I see when I am looking at someone or something not through the lens of my camera.”
To explain this phenomenon, we must go back to the first time it occurred. Sara was looking at a young boy walking to school. She raised her camera, looked into the lens and suddenly the boy turned around, stopped and stared directly into the camera. His eyes were red and sunken into his cheeks. He looked like someone who had not eaten for many days. He tried to smile, he tried with all of his heart but then a tear rolled down on his cheek and he turned and ran away. Sara followed him to his school. She stopped when he turned around and ducked behind a wall so he wouldn’t notice that he was being followed. He went into the school, one of the boys waved to him and called him Yisroel and he waved back with a smile. Sara turned around to go back home.
She suddenly understood what she had to do. She went into the small grocery store near the school, bought a sandwich, a juice, a candy bar and an apple. She put it all in a small plastic bag and returned to the school. When she arrived, she went to the office and told the secretary sitting behind the desk that Yisroel had forgotten his lunch at home and she, his sister, was asked to bring it to him on her way to her school. The secretary gave her a curious look, took the bag with the food, and told her that she would make sure that he got it. “That was lucky”, thought Sara, “there seems to be only one Yisroel at this school” and off she went without thinking too much about what had just happened.
The next afternoon, Sara took her camera out of the house, looking for more interesting subjects to photograph. This time she came upon a beautiful black cat licking her paws. “Ah, this will make a beautiful picture”, said Sara to herself. The cat was lying on the light stone of the cobblestone street and the background was a painted green fence in the front of a small apartment house. Sara carefully and quietly pointed her lens, hoping not to scare the creature away, and suddenly, she looked in the lens and the cat was staring into the camera, eyes bright green and she began to “Meow, meow, meow”. Sara suddenly realized that she understood, at some deep level inside of herself, what the cat was saying.
Sara ran to the street across the way where a veterinarian lives and asked her to follow her. They arrived at the place where the cat was still sitting, licking its paw quietly, not making any sounds. The vet began to examine the cat while the whole time, Sara was taking picture after picture, clicking away. The vet turned to Sara and asked, “How did you know that this cat has a broken leg? She is not moving and not making any noise.” Sara was stunned! She had no idea how she had known that the cat was injured. At this point, she had still not connected her knowledge and understanding of the subjects she photographed to the camera that she was carrying almost everywhere she went. “I’m not sure”, answered Sara. “It just came to me.” The vet thanked her for getting her and took the cat gently back to her clinic.
The next day Sara and her family were invited to a wedding. Sara was so excited to bring her camera, knowing that she could take pictures of the bride, her friends the ceremony under the chuppah (wedding canopy) and the dancing. “How lucky am I to have a camera to take pictures of all the things that are happening around me! How lucky to be able to freeze a moment in time and look at it at another time, a later time,” thought Sara to herself.
She and her siblings dressed in their nicest clothes for the wedding and off they went, gift in hand and camera in pocket! As soon as they arrived, Sara began clicking and flashing away. The weddings in Sara’s community are a very long event. First, all of the women and girls spend time with the bride. They sing to her and she blesses them. It is like a party. On the groom’s side, the men and boys are also having a party. The men and women are separated until the time of the wedding ceremony under the chuppah, or wedding canopy.
After the ceremony, the bride and groom, who have been fasting all day, go into a separate room and break their fast and the men and women go to their separate sides of the room, with a divider or mechitza and eat and continue the festivities. When the bride and groom emerge from their time together, the groom goes to the men’s side and the bride to the women’s side and the dancing and music commences. It is a great party! There is a mitzva (an obligation) to rejoice with the bride and groom on their wedding day and to make them happy.
Later in the evening, there is the mitzva dance, in which the men and women sit in the same room and the men in the family or close friends, take a long belt (gartle), hold one end out to the bride (who is wearing her veil) and they take one end and they dance. It is a lot of fun. Sometimes there is a Gramman, an entertainer, who makes up songs and poems about the people in the families of the wedding couple. He makes everyone laugh, most importantly entertaining the bride and the groom.
When Sara entered the women’s side before the ceremony, she started to focus her camera on the younger sister of the bride. She was a very beautiful girl and Sara approached her and aimed her camera. Suddenly, the sister of the bride, Pesia, looked straight into Sara’s camera and Sara almost dropped it when she saw into Pesia’s eyes. Sara realized that Pesia, was in love with the Chatan (the groom)! She then moved around to the edge of the room divider to get a picture of the groom, and saw in her camera that he was thinking about Pesia, his true love and not her older sister which the parents had chosen for him.
“How could this be?” thought Sara. “How could the groom marry Pesia’s sister when he really wants to marry Pesia?”
Sara thought to herself, “I must do something here. This is not right.” But what could a young girl of 12 do? Sara sat on a chair in the corner of the room and began to doze off. As she was sleeping, she started to dream. In her dream, the Bubie of the girls appeared to her. Sara had only met the girl’s Bubie once before she had died a few months ago. She was very old and one day closed her eyes and never woke up. The Rabbi at the funeral said that it was as if she had been, “kissed by an angel” and that it was a blessing to be called to the next world in that way.
So here was Sara and right next to her was Pesia’s Bubie. If that wasn’t surprising enough, Pesia’s Bubie began to talk to her and this is what she said:
“You must go up to my daughter-in-law, and you must tell her that she is marrying the wrong daughter to the wrong boy. Heaven has declared that this groom is to be Pesia’s husband and she must stop this wedding right now. Now child, wake up and off you go to my daughter-in-law and tell her that her mother-in-law, who loves her very much, Brydle, came to you in a dream with this important message!”
Sara woke up with a start, went directly to Pesia’s mother and told her about her dream. Pesia’s mother, Masha, immediately went up to her two daughters, the bride, Kayla and her sister Pesia and said, “Come with me quickly”, and they went to a quiet room near where the women were having their party. She told her friend to tell everyone that they would be back shortly and not to worry.
“What is happening?” asked Kayla. “What is the matter, mother?” asked Pesia. Their mother looked at both of her daughters, then she asked Sara to come into the room with them and to please tell the girls about her dream. Kayla looked down at her hands; Pesia looked out the window and their mother Masha said, “Well, tell me. Is this true? Is there something I need to know that your Bubie had to come back from Shamayim (heaven) to tell me that the two of you couldn’t tell me?”
Pesia began to speak and then Kayla interrupted her and said, “Let me speak Pesia. Mother, because I am the older daughter, you and Papa felt that I should be the first to be married. You know in our community; the parents choose the groom or the bride. We met three times and David (the groom) is a very sweet man, so I agreed. Then, I saw Pesia’s face and after many times, asking her what was the matter, she finally told me that she was in love with David. They had met in the library where they were both reading books and began a conversation on one of the books. Pesia was so surprised and happy to see him coming to our house, but had no idea that he was coming to meet me.”
“Let me continue,” said Pesia. “We know that you didn’t want me to be the first to marry and I knew that David would be a good husband for Kayla so I wouldn’t let her talk to you or Papa about this. I thought, there will be someone else for me and this is what heaven and our parents had decided.”
The girls’ mother, Masha let out a big sigh. “Oy, girls. Now we are in a bit of a situation here. However, I have an idea. Pesia you come with me. Kayla, you go back out to the party. We will be back shortly and I will send Sara to get you.”
So where did Masha take Pesia? She took her to the ritual bath, the mikveh, where religious Jewish brides go before their wedding. Pesia prepared herself, immersed into the waters of the mikveh, said the blessings, emerged, dried her hair and got dressed. Masha and she quickly walked back to the wedding party. Once there, Masha told Sara, who was waiting for them at the entrance, to go and ask Kayla to come into the room where they all had met earlier.
Within 10 minutes, the bride emerged, her veil covering her face, and she resumed sitting in her special chair. Shortly after that, the groom came to give his bride-to-be a blessing and to adjust the veil, which to his surprise was already in place, and then the groom, escorted by his father, mother and friends went to the chuppah.
The bride, escorted by her parents followed. The parents of the bride walked under the chuppah and placed their daughter next to her husband-to-be. It was a beautiful and holy ceremony. The Rabbi gave the couple many blessings. There is a belief in Sara’s community that the souls of relatives are also present at family weddings and Masha could feel the soul of her beloved mother-in-law hovering over the chuppah as her granddaughter was being married.
The groom stepped on the kiddush cup (wine glass) to symbolize that even in our greatest time of joy, we remember the destruction of our Temple (Beis Hamikdash) and pray for the rebuilding of it and the coming of the Messiah. Then, the crowd clapped and the bride and groom were ushered off with music and escorts to their yichud (private) room where they would break their fast and speak to each other for the first time as wife and husband.
You could imagine how this wedding yichud room might be different from most; for when the bride removed her veil, the groom almost fainted. As in the Bible, when Jacob discovers that, instead of his beloved Rachel, his bride has been switched to her older sister Leah, David too has a different bride than he expected. Except in this case, David had before him, his beloved Pesia! After he calmed down, Pesia told him the whole story. He was so grateful to Hashem (G-d), Bubie Brydle and of course Sara that he didn’t think there could be a happier man in the world at this time.
Masha approached Sara and asked her to wait outside the Yichud room and when the couple emerged, she wanted Sara to take the first picture of the two of them. Sara waited and when David and Pesia opened the door, Sara was there to take their picture. What she saw in her camera lens was the happiest couple she had ever seen at a wedding.
You might be curious as to what happened with Kayla. Kayla and Pesia were always switching clothes and shoes as girls. This just happened to be the most important switch that they had ever made! Kayla fit perfectly into her sister’s dress for the wedding and Pesia fit perfectly into the wedding dress. That night, some people noticed that the bride looked different, but she was so joyful as were all of the guests, that no one said anything and anyway, during the mitzva dance, the bride had her veil over her face.
Of course, there is the matter of Masha explaining what happened to her husband, Anshel. However, in Sara’s community when a loved one comes to someone in a dream, this is a very serious matter. You listen, and you listen well, because there is a belief that there are very rare times when the corridor between heaven and earth is opened. This is only to impart messages of the utmost importance, and we are obligated to pay attention to those messages.
Kayla too had in mind who her bashert (the right groom) was, and wanted to approach her parents, or have him approach them to ask permission to marry her. She fervently hoped that she would not have to call on the aid of her Bubie Brydle, but if she did, she knew whom to look for, Sara and her camera. This, however, is another story.
By now, Sara had realized that her camera was something special. She could help to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) with her camera. The question is, was it the camera that was special or the person looking through the lens that had the power to see “inside”?