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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 1:25 good 

The nature of animals differs from that of man.  That of animals (i.e. instincts and tendencies) is fully formed at birth.  Hence, G-d was able to immediately judge that their creation was good.  Humans, though born with great potential, may, after many years, turn out, to be good or not good, to perfect or to destroy. Hence, in contrast to animals, G-d did not pronounce man’s creation “good.”  See also Genesis 1:31. AMJV 96
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

(Continued from Leviticus 19:18 love BLOCH 254) The principle of equality, which bars men from assuming dominion over other people, is linked in the Bible to the creation of human beings in the image of G-d. This verse pointedly excludes the dominion of men over other men, who are equally endowed with divine qualities. Any act which disregards the rights of other people constitutes an unlawful exercise of dominion. The restatement of this basic principle by Ecclesiasticus (2nd cent. B.C.E.) is also based on the aforementioned sequence of the biblical text. “The Lord created man of the earth … and made him according to his image … and gave him dominion over beasts and fowl” Ecclus. 17:1-4. Malachi (6th cent. B.C.E.) used the theme of man’s equality before G-d as the basis of his appeal for respect for man. “Have we not all one father? Has not one G-d created us? Why do we deal treacherously everyman against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” Mal. 2:10. BLOCH 254-5
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

[A] framing Jewish attitude [that shapes economic life] is that human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of G-d [this verse]. Martin Buber suggests that we encounter other individuals as created b’zelem Elohim, that we establish “I-Thou” relationships with them.  In doing so, we see beyond the extraneous and utilitarian aspects of the other person and connect deeply. By contrast, when we engage others for what we can get from them, they become objects in our eyes. This defines an I-It relationship. Buber asserts that most people cannot constantly sustain I-Thou attention. We move between I-Thou moments and I-It ways in which we engage the world. Jewish wisdom encourages us to stretch beyond the illusion of separation between self and others, and to safeguard the dignity and well-being of each person even when we are not able to sustain deep attention to their fundamental essence. The infinite worth of human beings means that they should not be reduced to being means to an end, like rowers in a slave galley. Each of us reflects the divine presence in the world so we must see each person we encounter – bus driver or salesperson, student or teacher, executive or janitor – as a person worthy of our recognition, attention, caring and commitment. This should shape every one of our encounters with others, as it should shape the rules and procedures that we use in our economic lives.  Identifying tzelem Elohim as the core Jewish value that it is may seem radical and utopian. However, it gives direction and depth to our efforts in many domains—spiritual as well as political and economic. TEUTSCHEO  9
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

[Article analyzing employee rights in a situation of dismissal.]  We have now examined our guiding principles: the unconditioned value of human beings; and its derivative principle, respect for contract. We have also noted manifestations of these principles in both halakhic and general ethical sources, and we have made two policy proposals which emerge from the guiding principles. Still, an essential question remains: what undergirds the guiding principles themselves in addition to various historical and sociological factors which influence our choices, what convictions constitute the meta-ethical assumptions and foundations of our thought? For us, those meta-ethical stances are fundamentally Jewish, and thereby meta-halakhic as well. The cornerstone of all our thinking is the Jewish conviction that human beings are created b’tzelem elohim, “in the image of G-d.” This core conviction, derived from [this and following verses], raise Kant’s claims of human value to a transcendent level. While Kant asserted the unconditional value of human beings, Judaism roots that absolute value in G-d, the absolute source of all value: human beings possess implicit and unconditional worth because they are created in the image of G-d. Judaism insists upon the recognition of the transcendent dignity of every human being, no matter what the market conditions, no matter what the effect of profit or productivity.  In fact, b’tzelem elohim, seems to be a guiding assumption of Jewish law itself, the meta-halakhic principle responsible for Jewish law’s protecting the worker’s status in the various circumstances reported above.  One might still argue, however, from the classical capitalist perspective, that the free market system provides for the utmost dignity of its participants by providing all with the utmost freedom.  Another meta-halakhic principle, however, refutes this classical claim. Unlike classical free-market capitalism, Judaism does not enshrine freedom as an absolute value.  The Jewish ethical tradition certainly relies significantly on the experience of and redemption from slavery: “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourself been strangers in the land of Egypt” Exodus 23:9. Nonetheless, yetziat mitzrayim, the exodus from Egypt, is the necessary means to an end: matan torah, the revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The Israelites were redeemed from slavery not to wander in the desert and make their own rules, but in order to accept the divine obligations presented to them at Sinai. This dual notion that freedom entails responsibility, and that responsibility requires freedom is central to Jewish self-understanding (and corresponds to the more contemporary concept of moral agency); indeed, the acceptance of mitzvot, of deontological obligations, is the necessary basis for the halakhic system itself. The existence of the Halakhah is evidence that Judaism, while valuing liberty, considers human freedom neither sufficient expression nor sufficient guarantee of human dignity. Mitzvot constitute an explicit, rigorous, and visible hand of guidance towards individual and collective well-being. Finally, just as G-d and divinely-inspired obligation are the source and protection of the human being’s unconditional value in Judaism, they also underlie the value of contract. In this case, brit emerges as a compelling concept. If brit is the Jewish people’s (and the Jewish individual’s) covenant with G-d, and human beings are created b’tzelem elohim, then the core concept of brit might also suggest the sanctity of commitments between human beings … from a Jewish perspective the divine element in human beings imposes upon human agreements some of the sacred responsibility of brit.  REFJEW 297-8
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

[In the view of Jewish thinkers], that which we have in common with G-d is that which makes us human. By determining in what sense we have been created in the divine image, we can discern the characteristic that both makes us most like G-d and that reveals the essence of our humanity.  From this perspective, love is understood as the attraction of “like to like,” i.e., two loving partners are drawn toward each other because of a shared essential quality.  Hence, love of G-d stems from the desire of the divinely implanted part of us – from the quintessentially human feature of our existence that we bear and share with G-d—to attain communion with the divine.  HTBAJ 30-1
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

[One of] the features of the ethic of Torah that make it transformative and uniquely sustainable over time … was the unprecedented dignity of the individual, signaled in the statement of the Torah’s first chapter: [This verse] … The idea that a human being could be in the image of G-d was not new to the ancient Near East. That is what Mesopotamian Kings, Assyrian emperors, and Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be: the children of the gods, or the chief intermediaries with the gods. What was revolutionary to the Bible was the proposition that this applies equally to all of us. The concept of human rights was not born until the 17th century, yet it is fair to say that its possibility was created in those words. The rabbis spelled out some of the implications. A Mishna in Sanhedrin (4:5) states that humans were created singly (the Torah speaks of the creation of the first man and woman) to teach that a single life is like the universe. When a person destroys a life, it is as if he destroyed the universe. When a person saves a life, it is as if he saved the universe. They were also created singly for the sake of peace so that no one could say to others, “My ancestor was greater than yours.” Lastly, the Mishnah concludes, it was to show the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, for when humans make many coins from one mold, they all emerge alike, but G-d makes each person in the same image, His image, and they are all different. Therefore we are each obligated to say, “For my sake the world was created.” There is an important point worth noting here. Monotheism is not just a set of beliefs about G-d. It has deep implications for our understanding of humanity as well. Discovering G-d, singular and alone, humans discovered the significance of the individual, singular and alone. Hence remarks like that of Moses, “Shall one man sin and will You be angry with the whole congregation?” Numbers 16:22.  Hence also the appearance for the first time in literature of sharply individuated characters like Moses, David, Elijah, and Jeremiah alongside women like Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah. These are not the two-dimensional representational figures but rather, complex individuals who think and act as individuals.  SACKS xx-xxi
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

[He is called …] one who loves the Omnipresent G-d, one who loves mankind.  Pirkei Avot VI:1  This is the ultimate reward that the Torah student seeks, and achieves: that from him too should emanate some of the Divine aura which is the Almighty’s presence.  So does he love mankind and receive its love in return; for his very being, his life and ways reveal the nature and immanence of the Heavenly Father.  He is a living channel for the sh’chinah, indeed beloved by all, as R. Isaac of Toledo comments, “because everyone learns from him every good thing, and no harm comes to anyone from him.”  For the very Torah he studies will teach him to “love our neighbor as yourself,” since all humans are created “in the image of G-d.” [this verse]. Since his study is lish’mah, for its own sake, he has no reason to hoard or withhold his knowledge; seeing others going blindly astray, he will gladly share his knowledge with them out of love, if they will listen.  SINAI3 269
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GENESIS — 1:26 image

At its core, the soul you are is already holy and pure.  How could it be otherwise, since we are told in no uncertain terms in the Torah that we are made “in the image” and “likeness” of G-d? Yet in the reality of our lives, that radiant inner being is often hidden. The holy light of the neshama would shine constantly in our lives and through us into the world, were it not for the fact that the condition of certain inner qualities, which are framed for us as our soul-traits at the level of nefesh-soul, obstruct the radiance.  MORINIS 19-20
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