In all encounters with other people, remember that you are dealing with a being who was created in the image of G-d. Rabbi Akiva said, “The verse, ‘Love your fellow man as yourself’ Leviticus 19:18
is a great principle of the Torah.” Ben Azai said, “The verse, ‘When G-d created man He created him in His image’ Genesis 5:1
is an even greater principle.” (Jerusalem Talmud Nedorim 9:4
). Love of one’s fellow man which is not motivated and nourished by the realization that man was created in G-d’s image, is doomed to failure. Without this realization, why should a person feel obligated to love his fellow man? Man in the universe is so miniscule, he can be considered of minor importance. What, after all, is man, but one of several billion inhabitants on a planet which is only a speck of matter in a vastness of space that extends for billions of light-years. The individual is lost in immensity beyond imagination. And man himself is merely a mass of bones, nerves, muscles and blood that happens to function in an orderly fashion. Is he worthy of more consideration than an animal or insect? But when we realize that man alone is fashioned in the image of the Creator of heaven and earth, he is suddenly transformed from an inconsequential and insignificant being into one that is without parallel. Although seemingly miniscule, he is the pinnacle of creation. This is what Ben Azai meant when he said that man’s being created in the image of G-d is an even greater principle than “love your fellow man.” Man was created in G-d’s image and must be respected accordingly. PLYN 19-20.
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