Sunday, February 8, 2009

Parshas Breishis- Let Us Make Man In Our Image

In this week's Torah portion we have a very interesting occurrence. Yes, the creation of the world is amazing, but I am referring to G-D saying (Bereishis 1:26), "let us create man in Our image." And then the verse says(ibid 27), "G-D made man in His image, man and woman He created them." Now, I am not an English teacher, but something is very wrong with those two sentences being after each other. Someone might say that Hebrew is different and maybe I am reading it incorrectly. I got this translation from artscroll so it must be right! But in the Hebrew version it doesn't make sense either. It switches between the plural and the singular, so what is going on?

G-D says, Let us create man in Our image, in Our likeness. This seems odd since we also have "Shema Ysiroel Hashem elokainu, Hashem Echad." (Hear oh Israel, Hashem Our G-d, Hashem is One, one G-D and not many gods) Since I am not a philosopher I will not try to squeeze out a different meaning of Echad or try to explain this contradiction away, rather I want to focus on an essential idea in Judaism that explains why G-D confuses us by seemingly referring to Himself in the plural.

Most people have heard of the idea that G-D created the world with the attribute of strict judgement, but decided to combine creation with the attribute of mercy as well. This is what many Midrashim and commentators say is true, for if it was not true, the world would be destroyed. With this in mind and the very next verse referring to creating Adam as male and female, we can draw a logical conclusion as to why G-D refers to Himself in the plural of "Our image, Our likeness."

In the 27th verse it says that "Elokim (the attribute of strict justice) created man, in His image Elokim created him, male and female He created them." Interesting that the verse is formed in this way, that man is created in the image of Elokim, but when the verse refers to male and female it just says that they were created, without specifying Elokim's image. So, based on this and the idea that G-D created the world with the yud kay vav kay attribute of mercy (Hashem) and the Elokim attribute of strict justice, this leads me to believe that when G-D says that He wanted to create man in "Our image and Our likeness" that refers to creating man with both the attribute of strict justice and the attribute of mercy. That when G-D created man, He created man through the attribute of strict justice and the female through the attribute of mercy "Our likeness and Our image." I believe this since by man it says Elokim, but by woman it mentions nothing (which would refer to yud kay vav kay).

This brings me to an idea that I want to discuss. When referring to Kibud av viaim, honoring ones mother and father, the Torah says that one should honor ones father and mother. However, when the Torah refers to fearing ones parents it says one should fear their mother and father. Why would the Torah switch the order? The Torah is pointing out that most people do not fear their mothers because they exemplify the attribute of mercy therefore the Torah emphasizes that one must fear her as well as give her kavod. The Torah is also pointing out that the father is someone who exemplifies the attribute of justice and that is why the Torah emphasizes that one must give him kavod as well as fear.

In the end of the day the verses here allude to the fact that G-D made women through the attribute of mercy and men through the attribute of justice and this is why man can only be in the image of G-D when male and female are combined in marriage making them into a single entity. Through marriage man and woman can become one and really exist in the image of G-D.

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