I am thoroughly enjoying the social media posts of children and grandchildren’s first day of school. The well-choreographed poses, clean shirts, and bright smiles. We’ll certainly post pictures as our children begin Sinai Akiba Academy next week.
However, my favorite picture was one taken not at the start of the day, but at the end. A mother photographed her daughter sleeping on the front steps, hair thrown in every direction, sweaty and dirty. Nothing perfect about the scene but a dose of reality. This is what a child looks like after their first day of school.
But we tend to leave out those kinds of pictures. The second days of school, the days after the honeymoon, what it looks like when everyone goes home after the birthday party, the scenes that scream truth aren’t usually the most photogenic. But what if the picture we posted wasn’t perfect? What would that convey? A small chip in the persona we’ve built for others to see?
Or an invitation to others: you can be you and I can be me.
Rabbi Dr. Erin Leib Smokler offers insight regarding the notion of seeming complete. Commenting on the Sefat Emet, Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib of Gur, she writes, “In order to arrive at shleimut (wholeness), one must recognize the ways in which one is ridden with holes. The Torah offers a path toward completeness, but it can be received only by those who can see how very incomplete they are.” When we outwardly project via photos and words that our worlds are complete, we are emotionally and spiritually void of the wholeness we seek. Conversely, when we reveal who we are, shleimut comes closer.
In no way am I suggesting refraining from posting first photos. I love first photos. But I join in the challenge of posting second and third days…the photos of hair undone, messy children, tearful moments, and times of frustration. Because it’s then in which we see each other.
Holes and all…that’s a step towards achieving shleimut, the wholeness we seek.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.