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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 — 1:26 us

… humility is one of the attributes of the Almighty.  Rabbe Yochanan remarks in Megillah, “Whereever you find reference to the greatness of the Almighty, there will you find reference to His humility.” Megillah 31b.  It was in order to impress upon all future generations the great significance of the trait of humility, the Sages observe, that at the time of the creation of man, the Almighty said, “Let us make a man in our image, after our likeness.” [this verse]. Even though this verse might lead certain individuals to the grievous error that the Angels had aided the Almighty in the creation of man [It was for this reason that when Ptolemy II Philadelphus ordered seventy-two Sages to translate the Torah into Greek, each of the Sages decided independently to change the translation of this verse (among others) to read, I will make a man with an image and a form. Megillah 9a; Yerushalmi, Megillah 1:9 –P. 12b]; Soferim 1:8, Mechilta, Exodus 12:40; See also Legacy of Sinai, p 136], the Almighty nevertheless wrote this verse in the plural form to teach us the overwhelming significance of the trait of humility – “That a great individual shall request advice and permission from a lesser individual.” Rashi, [this verse]  FENDEL 143-4 
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GENESIS — 1:26 Us

G-d took counsel with the angels before creating man; this teaches us that a person of distinction should always take counsel with people of lesser stature.  Rashi, this verse. Similarly, we learn from Exodus 17:9 that a teacher should honor his disciples.  Moses charged Joshua to choose suitable men for Moses, yet used the expression “us” to include Joshua, his pupil.  The objective is to inform a person of lesser statute about one’s decision before acting upon it, and to consider his criticism.  This idea is illustrated by the Midrash Yalkut Genesis 12, which explains that after G-d informed the angels of His intention to make man in His image, a heated discussion broke out in the Heavens.  One group of angels spoke in favor of this decision, arguing that man’s capability to perform kind deeds qualifies him to be created in His image, while another group spoke in opposition, contending that man is full of falsehood.  Another group spoke in favor, maintaining that man’s ability to act righteously justifies his creation, while still another spoke in opposition, arguing that man’s character is essentially disposed to dispute.  The Midrash concludes, “Even while the angels debated the wisdom of this decision, G-d crated man.”  Even so, one who makes a controversial decision should try to placate those who are in opposition.  This is derived from the manner in which G-d argued in favor of the creation of Man – He assured that man’s offspring would be righteous, concealing the fact that wicked offspring would also be born.  There are even times when the wisest approach is to simply keep silent.  In this manner, others will not disturb him in performing the required action.   WAGS 16-17, 96-97
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GENESIS — 1:26 us

In Jewish tradition, man is a microcosm, a world in miniature. Think, if you will, of a military general planning a campaign. Before him lies a small-scale representation of the field or theatre of battle, and on it he places and moves little objects.  Is he amusing himself with some innocent child’s game? -- hardly.  The little objects represent soldiers and equipment; the little movements that he makes with them will be translated into large-scale action.  And as a result, men will live or die, emerge whole or injured; battles—perhaps an entire war—will be won or lost.  Even so, Jewish tradition indicates, is man the micrososm in relation to the world without.  All that goes on within him is translated into far-reaching effects; his influence radiates into the far reaches of the macrocosm.  In Jerusalem stood the Sanctuary, the Holy Temple. When the people grew thoroughly wicked and would pay no heed to the prophets of the Almighty, the Temple was destroyed, the people were expelled, the entire land became desolate.  Similarly, man is the temple of creation so to speak, and the human heart is the holy of holies.  If we entertain thoughts that are immoral or emotions that are unworthy, it is as if we had defiled the holy of Holies itself.  To do this is to call down destruction upon the entire world.  For man is the sole connecting link between heaven and earth, bearing within him the essence of all life on earth and all the spirituality in heaven.  Indeed, when the Almighty said, “Let us make man in our image,” one Safe explains that He addressed the creations of heaven and earth: [this verse] as it were, He invited them to join in making man.  Thus only the human is both spirit and matter, a mind functioning in and through a physical organism.  He alone can bridge the division between spirit and substance that cuts the world in two.  Only man can bring sanctity into the world of brute matter, can infuse the light of spirituality into an animalistic realm, by translating into action the Divine guidance of Torah. As the Almighty’s ambassador on earth, if he fails in his mission, he fails the King.  SINAI3 8
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GENESIS — 1:26 us

In the anguish of his heart, the Psalmist cries: “Look on my right hand, and see, for there is no moan that knoweth me. I have no way to flee; no man careth for my soul” Psalm 142:5  To cheer man in his loneliness, G-d was depicted as a loving Father. Even in His anger he doth remember mercy, assuring all who pulse with the breath of life which He has infused into them that none need feel alone in this apparently friendless universe. He is with us in our troubles, loving us and deeply concerned with our destiny. He made Adam a co-partner with Him in the act of Creation. For did not G-d use the plural “Let us make”[this verse] – thus hinting at ma’s share in the making of himself and in omnipotent creativeness? Such a belief gave meaning to Jewish life and a sense of direction to human destiny. LEHRMAN 154-5
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GENESIS — 1:26 us

Samson Rafael Hirsch in the 19th century gave the most forcible interpretation of biblical law. The statutes relating to environmental protection, he said, represent the principle that “The same regard which you show to man you must also demonstrate to every lower creature, to the earth which bears and sustains all, and to the world of plants and animals.” They are a kind of social justice applied to the natural world: “They ask you to regard all living things as G-d’s property. Destroy none; abuse none; waste nothing; employ all things wisely… look upon all creatures as servants in the household of creation.” S. R. Hirsch, The Nineteen Letters, letter 11. Hirsch also gave a novel interpretation to the phrase in Genesis 1, “Let us make mankind in our image, and our likeness.” The passage is puzzling, for at that stage, prior to the creation of man, G-d was alone.  The “us,” says Hirsch, refers to the rest of creation.  Because man alone would develop the capacity to change and possibly endanger the natural world, nature itself was consulted as to whether it approved of such a being. The implied condition is that man may use nature only in such a way as to enhance it, not put it at risk. Anything else is ultra vires, outside the remit of our stewardship of the planet. SACKS 303
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GENESIS — 1:26 us

When the Almighty said, “let us make a man [this verse], He taught us the far-reaching significance of humility.  “Wherever your find [Scriptural reference to] the greatness of the Almighty, you find reference to His humility, as well.” Talmud, Megillah 31a.  And Moshe Rabbeinu, of course, was the personification of humility, par excellence. Numbers 12:3 So, too, therefore, shall you emulate your Creator, and follow in the footsteps of our teacher, Moshe, to become a man of humility, and to walk humbly with your G-d. Micah 6:8. FENDEL 96
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GENESIS — 1:26 us

Witness Rabbi Yisrael Salanter’s statement about himself.  He said, “I know that I have the mental capacity of a thousand men.”  This was surely not arrogance on his part, just uncommon honesty and accurate self-knowledge. He followed it up by noting, “Because of that, my obligation to serve G-d is also that of a thousand men.” He knew his space and his capacity to occupy it.  MORINIS 51
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GENESIS — 1:27 female

Professor [Richard Elliott] Friedman [in "Who Wrote the Bible?”] suggests that different authors of the Bible, from different socio-political and economic circumstances, may reflect different statuses for women by their inclusion or exclusion of material or in their attitude towards this material. Giving this line of thinking, one could demonstrate that the “most feminist” position of the recognized authors of the Bible seem to be P rather than J or E. In [this and next verse], a recognized P document, for example, … male and female are created contemporaneously and from the same image of G-d. Similarly, G-d blesses both of them and commands both of them to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth.… Unlike J’s creation account in Genesis 2:18 – 24, which makes the woman a secondary creation made not directly from the Divine but rather from the side of man, P’s account presents a woman which is the equal of man in their creation, origin, and purpose. P’s creation is totally interrelated and interdependent upon one another. P’s influential opinion seems to be important since it is repeated again in Genesis 5:2 almost word for word. .… P presents a view where women are more equal to men than in the J or the E Biblical world.
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

… [the Rabbis’] strong conviction of the sanctity of human life, expressed especially in the early chapters of Genesis [this verse, 5:1, 9:6] that we are created in the image of G-d … is reflected in the Rabbis’ ruling that a man without children of his own was [sic] eligible to judge a capital case, T. Sanhedrin 7:3; B. Sanhedrin 36b; M.T. Laws of Courts (Sanhedrin) 2:3 presumably because his lack of experience in having children makes him insufficiently appreciative of the value of human life. Children bring a renewed sense of the preciousness of life, both that of victim, in the case of someone accused of murder, and that of the culprit. DORFFLGP 67
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