From the Rav’s Desk: Showing and looking at pictures of those murdered in the Simchas Torah Pogrom?

  1. Question:

I have a fairly large following in social media I would like to know if it is morally and Halachically permitted for me to share photos and videos of the travesties that occurred in southern Israel on Simchas Torah. While some of these pictures are already available on regular new sites, others, have not been authorized for publication on the standard news sites due to their gory nature, and I have received them from private individuals many of them who were present during the massacre. I feel that sharing the real difficult pictures will help people in my following, and elsewhere in the world understand the tremendous travesty and cruelty that was done, especially in light of the fact that there are people who deny the cruel behavior from having taken place. My question is regarding if it is Halachically permitted for me to share such photos, and that doing so is not considered shaming of the dead?



In this specific situation, for the purposes that you mention, it is permitted for you to share these photos for the sake of garnering awareness of the tragedy and cruelty that took place, in order so public opinion goes in the right direction of getting revenge and justice on behalf of the victims, and so this never happens again. In general, however, since it is forbidden to look at the face of the dead, hence if a face is clearly visible, I would recommend for you to blur the face of the victims prior to sending the picture. Likewise, due to the Kabbalistic restriction against looking at the body of a murder victim, such pictures should not be shared unnecessarily without the above said purpose, and likewise people who do not need to be aware of the pictures of the atrocities in order to exact vengeance should not look at them.



The Talmud states that looking at the face of a deceased person has negative repercussions. Furthermore, the Mekubalim it is forbidden to look at the body of a murder victim, even from a distance of 100 Amos. Accordingly, it is forbidden to take a picture of the deceased and show it to people as doing so is considered disrespectful of the dead. Nonetheless, this would not necessarily apply to a murder victim when done for the sake of exacting vengeance. When it comes to a murder victim, Jewish law amplifies the necessity of the people to seek vengeance from the murderers and for even the soul of the victim itself to venge its death from the enemy and not rest until the murderer is brought to justice. Accordingly, it would follow that if showing pictures of the murder victims are necessary in order to create public awareness for the necessity to decimate the enemy who committed such horrors, then not only is it permitted to be done on the basis that it benefits the public, but it actually benefits the victims themselves, helping their souls exact vengeance for the travesty done to them, and this will help their soul truly rest in peace.

Sources: See regarding looking at the face of the deceased: Horiyos 13b that it is Kasha Leshichicha; Maharil Semachos; Maavor Yabok Mamar Sifsei Renanos 9; Chupas Eliyahu Raba 3; Peri Chadash Likkutim 2; P”M 2 A”A 1; M”B 2:2; Darkei Chesed p. 32; See Reshimos 5 [printed in Toras Menachem Tziyon p. 26] that the Rebbe Rayatz instructed for his mother’s face to be exposed for a few moment; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 237:2; 240:1-2; See regarding looking at the body of a murder victim: Shaar Ruach Hakodesh p. 8; Peri Eitz Chaim; Mizmor Ledavid p. 111; Ben Ish Chaiy Pinchas 2:18; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 237:5; See Kav Hayashar 2 See regarding taking pictures of the deceased: Dvar Yehoshua 2:35; Nitei Gavriel 42:8; See regarding taking vengeance on behalf of the murder victim and doing actions to arouse the vengeance: Michaber Y.D. 364:4; Hagahos Maimanis end of Aveilus in name of Rabbeinu Ephraim; Shach 364:11; Taz 364:2; Mavor Yabok Sefas Emes 10; Chochmas Adam 157:12; Kitzur SHU”A 197:12; Gesher Hachaim 11; Darkei Chesed 13; Nitei Gavriel 48:6-7

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