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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 — 1:27 image

… beyond any doubt … compassion for others is a Jewish value.  This value comes out of the commandment, “Love your fellow as yourself” Leviticus 19:18, which is a manifestation of the core Jewish belief that each of us is created in the image of G-d [this verse and Genesis 5:1]. As such, we must preserve not only the life and the health of others, but their dignity as well.  DORSOC 141
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

(Continued from Exodus 15:2 adorn SPERO 86). It should be pointed out, however, that the essential sources of [the rabbinic teaching imitation dei] are not the commands to “walk in G-d’s ways” but rather the existential premises in the Bible concerning the nature of man that have already been treated: Man is created in the image of G-d. If we examine the relevant biblical passages, we find there the occurrence of two terms: “image” (tzelem) and “likeness” (demut). The passage reads: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” [this verse]. The rabbis saw the terms “image” as referring to a fixed universal component which confers irreducible value upon man, while the terms ‘likeness” refers to his destiny rather than to his origin, to a state to be achieved rather than to something already possessed. The rabbinic interpretation is to the effect that while G-d creates man in His "image,” the “likeness,” which is the process of becoming like, lies in the hand of man. Man can achieve this by walking in the ways of G-d, by clothing the naked and visiting the sick, by being merciful and kind.  Pesikta Rabbati 46b, Genesis Rabbah 49:29, Yalkut Reuveni on this verse  SPERO 86-7
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

[One of the sources of humility] is the awareness that every human being with whom we interact is created in G-d’s image, and therefore as valuable as we ourselves.  The Talmud records the story of a man who came to Rava, the fourth-century sage, with a most disturbing moral dilemma: The governor of his town had ordered him to murder an innocent person; if he refused to do so, he himself would be put to death.  When the questioner asked Rava whether he was permitted to kill the man in order to save his own life, the rabbi answered, “What reason do you have for assuming your blood is redder [than the other person’s? Perhaps his blood is redder” (Pesachim 25b).  Indeed, by killing another, we may make ourselves less worthy of living than our victim.  Another ramification of this Talmudic teaching: Don’t exploit others, as historically was done through slavery, and as is done today by those who overwork, underpay, or otherwise wrong their employees.  How can one assume that one’s blood is more precious than the blood of those whom one mistreats?  This teaching has implications in far less serious areas than matters of life and death and exploitation.  For example, a humble person will not push ahead of someone else in line.  Rather, he will think, “What gives me the right to assume that my time is more valuable than his?”  TELVOL 1:213-4
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

[This verse and Genesis 1:26 are] not so much a metaphysical statement about the nature of the human person as it is a political protest against the very basis of hierarchical, class-or caste-based societies, whether in ancient or modern times.  That is what makes it the most incendiary idea in the Torah.  In some fundamental sense we are all equal in dignity and ultimate worth, for we are all in G-d’s image regardless of colour, culture, or creed. A similar idea appears later in the Torah, in relation to the Jewish people, when G–d invites them to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. All nations in the ancient world had priests, but none was “a kingdom of priests” Exodus 19:6.  All religions have holy individuals—but none claim that every one of their members is holy. This too took time to materialize. During the entire biblical era there were hierarchies. There were priests and high priest, a holy elite. But after the destruction of the Second Temple, every prayer became a sacrifice, every leader of prayer a priest, and every synagogue a fragment of the Temple.  A profound egalitarianism is at work just below the surface of the Torah, and the rabbis knew and lived it.  SACKS 5-6
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

Being created in G-d’s image imparts value to human life, regardless of the individual’s level of capacity or incapacity. The American way of thinking is thoroughly pragmatic: a person’s value is a function of what that person can do for others.  That view, so deeply ingrained in American culture, prompts Americans to value those who have unusual abilities, who succeed—and, conversely, to devalue those who are disabled in some way.  In sharp contrast, the Torah declares that G-d created each of us in the divine image [this verse].” DORFFLOV 21-2
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

A central concept of Judaism’s understanding of ourselves and others is that each of us was created in the image and likeness of G-d [this verse and Genesis 5:1].  We are not an accidental happenstance produced by blind forces of nature; we are rather the conscious and purposeful creation of G-d.  Moreover, we share some of G-d’s characteristics. Like G-d, but, of course, not to the same degree, we are capable of sustained thought, creativity, and awareness of ourselves, our world, and G-d; the light of G-d is imminent in our spirit. Proverbs 20:27 We share in G-d’s dominion over the earth, Genesis 1:26, 28, and we have the divine attribute of free will, Genesis 3:5 and Deuteronomy 30:19 for we can recognize the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.  We are privileged to commune with G-d and, in rabbinic terms, even to be G-d’s partner in ongoing acts of creation.  B. Shabbat 10a, 119b DORFFLOV 75-6
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

According to Jewish tradition, the dignity of all human beings – that which raises us above the status of other animals – derives from the fact that we are created in G-d’s own image [this verse]. The primary way in which humanity is like G-d is in our abilities to understand and follow an argument for justice, to know right from wrong, and to choose the right.  To do these things is both the privilege and the responsibility of being created in G-d’s image. As Jews, G-d has given us the Torah to help us make the right decisions, and hence study of the tradition is an aid to good practice. B. Shabbat 127a Even without a thorough Jewish education, though, we may not hide from the implications of being created in the divine image.  M. Avot 3:18  Thus a variety of biblical and rabbinic sources demand that we preserve not only the lives of the poor but their dignity as well.  Deuteronomy 24:10-11, M. Ketubbot 13:3, S.A. Yoreh De’ah 251:8, Even Ha-Ezer 112:11, B. Ketubbot 43a and S.A. Even Ha-ezer 112:16, 93:4. So, for example, if someone injures another person. The attacker must compensate the victim for the injury itself (lost capital value), the pain involved, the medical expenses, the time lost from work, and degradation. M. Bava Kamma 8:1 When discussing payment for degradation, the Talmud’s basis for comparison is the embarrassment involved in poverty. That is, the clear case of degradation, to which other cases can be instructively compared, is the embarrassment involved in being in need. B. Bava Kamma 86a Since poverty is an affront to the dignity inherent in us as creatures of G-d, all those who can are obliged to help. By the same token, the poor themselves must take care to protect their own dignity. One way of doing this is to give charity—no matter what one’s economic state. “Even a poor person who lives entirely on charity must also give charity to another poor person.” B. Bava Kamma 119a, B. Gittin 7b, M.T. Laws of Gifts to the Poor 7:5, and S.A. Yoreh De’ah 248:1, 251:12. Also, the poor who need aid are encouraged to apply to the community fund and are discouraged from door-to door-begging, because it diminishes their own dignity. B. Bava Batra 9a and S.A. Yoreh De’ah 250:3-4 DORFFDRAG 136-7
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

According to Scripture, the human being is created in the image of G-d. Genesis 1:26. Postbiblical Jewish religious literature takes this to mean that one should imitate the ways of G-d, that one should act in a godly manner, for example, “as G-d is merciful and compassionate, so should human beings be merciful and compassionate.”  Sifre on Deuteronomy, Finkelstein, ed. “Ekev” para. 49, p. 114.  As G-d is creative, so too should human beings be creative.  As G-d is an artist, so too should human beings be artists.  G-d’s most superlative artwork is the human being.  It is the human task to complete G-d’s unfinished artistic masterpiece-the human person.  Ethics is a way in which one creates life as a work of art.  HTBAJ xiv
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

Although the Torah tells us that we are made in the image of G-d, some rabbis see this not as a statement of our present condition but of our potential.  Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, for example, helps us identify just where we can locate that image of G-d in which we were made: “The image of G-d is in His character traits.  When you love kindness, you become the image of G-d.” MORINIS 191
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

By doing acts of chesed (the term denoting all forms of assisting others) you emulate G-d.  The Chofetz Chayim cites commentators who explain that “image of G-d” means man has the ability to emulate G-d, who bestows kindness on people.  Someone who performs a kind act reflects G-d’s attributes.  Someone who thinks to himself, “Why should I help others?” completely alienates himself from G-dliness.  The very survival of humanity is dependent on chesed.  Every person, without exception, needs the help of his fellow man as anyone who has given the matter thought realizes. For example: 1.People, even the very wealthy, sometimes need to borrow money. 2. A person may need others to help him gain a source of income. 3. When a person celebrates a joyous occasion, such as a wedding or bris, he needs people to rejoice with him, for a man who is alone cannot experience complete happiness. 4. When a person is sad, he needs people to comfort him and cheer him. 5. When a person has a heavy load, he needs people to help him. 6. When a person travels to another town, he needs people to invite him to their homes. 7. When a person is ill, he needs people to visit him and give him care. 8. Even after a person dies, he is still dependent on the kindness of others to bury him. [Illustrative anecdotes provided, including citations to Ahavat Chesed, part 2, ch. 2; Micah 6:8; Yorah Daiah 246:18; Chayai Hamussar, vol. 2, p. 218; Pele Yoatz, sections chesed and derech Eretz].  PLYN 20-23.
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