לא תעשה לך פסל וכל תמונה (יתרו כ:ד)
You will not make a statue or any image…
Based on this commandment, the Rebbes of yesteryear were stringent about not having themselves photographed.
Reb Hershel Lipshitz z’’l, the Viener Rosh Hakahal in Williamsburg, merited to be in the presence of Reb Yissocher Dov of Belz zt’’l, Reb Aharon of Belz zt’’l, and יבלח’’ט the current Belzer Rebbe shlita.
Reb Hershel retold an episode of Reb Yissocher Dov of Belz. When he was visiting Munkatch, before stepping onto his wagon, a non-Jew approached to snap a picture. The Rebbe’s gabbai (assistant) wanted to refrain the non-Jew from taking the photo, but Reb Yissocher Dov permitted him to take a picture, saying, “Let them see what an ehrliche Yid (a worthy Jew) needs to look like!”
A similar story is told of Reb Aharon of Belz zt’’l when he moved to Kiryat Shmuel area in Yerushalayim. During the קבלת פנים – when all the townsfolk came to greet him, a photographer stood amongst the crowd, ready to snap a picture of the great Rebbe.
When Reb Aharon noticed the photographer, he requested that they shouldn’t allow him to take pictures. When his brother, the Bilgoray Rebbe zt’’l, told Reb Aharon that the Yid is a photographer and takes pictures for parnassah, Reb Aharon then allowed him to take one picture, but not more.