Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayechi
To dedicate this lesson
At the Shabbat Table

Picture Perfect?


Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tevet 12 5780
Rafi is a highly sought after photographer. During wedding season, he’s kept busy every night, as he spends hours trying to capture poignant, emotional moments for posterity. Before one particular wedding, he was given very specific instructions by the father of the chatan (groom). The father informed Rafi that there would be many prominent rabbis in attendance, and he wanted Rafi to make sure to get pictures of the chatan together with these rabbis. When Rafi arrived at the hall for the wedding, the father reminded Rafi again of his special request.
Throughout the evening, Rafi worked hard, trying his best to encapsulate the feelings of the evening in picture form. He focused particularly on the father’s request, and made sure to take numerous pictures of the chatan together with the rabbis. By the end of the wedding, Rafi was exhausted, but satisfied that he had done a good job.
The next morning, Rafi decided to get right to work, editing the picture from the wedding. He sat down at his computer, and began to look through the pictures he had taken the night before. As many times as he looked through the pictures, however, he couldn’t find a single picture of the chatan together with the rabbis! Over and over again, he did all he could to try to locate the pictures. When that didn’t work, he contacted friends of his who were also in the photography business, to see if they could help. Nothing worked. The pictures were lost!
Rafi thought of the anguish of the chatan and his father, and how disappointed they would be with him. He thought of a brilliant idea. He looked through images of weddings which he had photographed previously, and found pictures of the rabbis who had been in attendance the night before. Then, he photoshopped the images of the rabbis with the chatan. Voila! The chatan with the rabbis! By the time Rafi was finished, the pictures looked so convincing, that even Rafi couldn’t tell who had been in the original pictures. Satisfied, Rafi printed the pictures, and brought them over to the family. The family members oohed and aahed over the pictures, delighted to be able to hold onto those special memories.
Later that day, Rafi thought over what he had done. Was he allowed to photoshop those pictures?

Answer of Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlita:
Rafi is allowed to accept full payment for the goods which he is providing. This is because the chatan wanted pictures with particular rabbis, in order to preserve the exciting moments which he experienced, and the chatan received such pictures. It is likely that there is no discernible difference between the pictures. In addition, the photographer deserves to be compensated for his work, in that he spent time editing the pictures to make them look realistic.
It is not merely permissible, but it is the preferred course of action for Rafi to provide photoshopped pictures, in this case. There is no concern of geneivat da’at (deception), because, ultimately, it is for the good of the chatan. The chatan, ostensibly, prefers to receive these pictures, and to think that these pictures are the originals. If he were to hear that the original pictures were lost, it would cause him distress.
In summary: Rafi the photographer is allowed to photoshop the pictures, and accept full compensation for them.
Translation : Avigail Kirsch

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