|Eagle Eye Hidden Camera|
"You should be aware of the fact that there are cameras all over here, and people are watching. You're not in a private place. We do have dressing rooms for trying on clothes."
Sometimes it stops them, and sometimes it doesn't. But I wouldn't feel right without saying something to warn them.
I've been meaning to blog about this for the longest time. We're in the Month of Ellul, the month of Teshuva, Repentance, when we're supposed to be extra mindful of the fact that G-d observes every act we do and every thought we think. G-d has His "security camera" observing us every second.
This morning I saw that the OU sent out an article by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb in which he mentions this as his Parshat Shavua and Ellul message.
The Shulchan Aruch, the Jewish code of law, opens with a statement recognizing that a person's behavior, when he is alone at home, is very different from his behavior when he appears before a great king. And it urges the religious person to be aware that he is always in the presence of the great King of Kings, the all-knowing God.
But it is not only from a spiritual perspective that it is wrong to act demeaningly in private. There is a practical aspect as well to the importance of behaving properly even in secret. There always is the very real possibility that our secrets will be "leaked" and that things we were sure would never be known will become embarrassingly exposed.
I know of no place where this is conveyed more cogently than in these words of caution, to be found in Ecclesiastes (10:20):
Don't revile a king, even in your intimate thoughts.
Don't revile a rich man, even in your bedchamber;
For a bird of the air may carry the utterance,
And a winged creature may report the word.
Indeed, as our Sages say (Berachot 8b), the walls have ears.
But many times, we go too far and indeed split our personalities between the Dr. Jekylls of our external visible behavior and the Mr. Hydes of our inner sancta. How well advised we would be to set as an objective for ourselves the words of the Daily Prayer Book:
"A person should always be God-fearing,
privately and publicly,
acknowledging the truth and speaking it in his heart."
It doesn't matter what costume or uniform we have worn throughout our lives. G-d sees the truth, the אמת emet. For the longest time, I've seen the word אמת truth as אמות amute, I will die. That is the final, ultimate truth. Someday we will all die, whether we want to or feel ready to or wished we had died sooner.
And on that day, the day we die, G-d will make His final judgment about how we lived our lives. Will we be rewarded or punished?
The Month of Ellul and the early days of Tishrei, Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are our "dress rehearsals" for the big show. Every year G-d does His accounting, the subtotal of our lives, our deeds. It's our chance, the big reminder to wipe clean our slates, get into practice, do some good spiritual housekeeping while we still have some control.
Let's remember that there's no hiding from G-d, the All Seeing and All Knowing. Remember that the only ones we can change are ourselves.