I wanted to know if I could take photos of myself without tzniut just for me. I keep them for me because I like seeing them.
Is there a problem? I would like to hear about the halachic and hashkafic perspective about this.
I respect your courage to ask such a personal question.
While I can’t say that it is halachically forbidden, it is not hashkafically correct for a number of reasons. First of all, the Shulchan Aruch (O:CH 2) writes that one has to be b’tzniut all the time, (or course not in the shower etc.) because we have to remember that we are in Hashem’s presence all the time.
Additionally, there is an aspect of self-respect here. One of the reasons for tzniut is a matter of self-respect and dignity. Let me just divert for a minute in order to explain this. It is important for us to understand that “we” are not merely a physical body, rather we have a neshoma, (soul) which is really very alive and spiritually higher than the angles. It is easy for us to contact our neshoma. Let’s think a minute, when someone insults us, what hurts? Our physical heart? Our physical brain? No. It is our soul that feels the pain. When we hear a beautiful song, what feels the enjoyment, our physical ear? No. Our neshoma. When we hear noise, what “hears it, the meat of our ear, the cells or our brain? The sound comes through them, but it is the neshoma that sees, through the eyes, and hears through the ears. Our neshoma is our personality, which is not our body, rather it is inside our body. In fact, our neshoma is housed inside our body until our physical body dies. Then our neshoma which doesn’t die, will go up to heaven and enjoy things that neshomas enjoy.
One of the reasons why we want to dress with tznius is, how do I want people to look at me, as a physical, animalistic body, to take advantage of for their own enjoyment. Or do I want to associate myself that I am a neshoma, housed inside a physical body, but he main part of me is that I am a neshoma, a being on a high spiritual level, and not just a hunk of meat that can move around and look pretty.
This is why we dress Jews with tznius. Yes, we do have a materialistic, physical body, and it is also pretty, and attractive, but I don’t want to accentuate it in a way that will twist who I am out of proportion. Therefore, we try to dress in a way that doesn’t announce to all, “here is a body”, and we cover the body as a form of expressing, this is not what I am, I am much more than that, I am a neshoma. (Of course the physical body was made with beauty to be used at the correct time, and place, but otherwise this is not what we want to advertise.)
Getting back to your question. We want to act with tznius, even when no one else is around, for Hashem and for ourselves. We don’t want to over accentuate our physical body, and then fool ourselves into thinking that this is what we are. We are much, much more than just physical bodies. We are a nechoma, who will IY”H bring the next generation into the world, which will be fulfilling Hashem’s purpose in creating the world. A Jewish woman has been given a very lofty position in Hashem’s world, And Hashem doesn’t want us to lower it and embarrass it by turning it into a physical thing, that can bring out the lowest animalistic desires in people.
This is why in hashkafa it is an incorrect thing to do.