Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Bereisheis

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

(1: 26) "And G-d said, let us make humanity in our own form and image, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals and all the earth, and anything that crawls upon the land."

Perhaps it should not surprise us that this verse, which describes the creation of man, offers us so much to learn about ourselves - and it's all in Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the first commentary most people study). Here, says Rashi, we see G-d's great modesty. "Because a person is in the image of the angels, and the angels were jealous of him, therefore He [G-d] consulted them." And later, "Even though they did not help with man's creation, and there is an opening here for heretics to rebel, still the Torah did not hold itself back from teaching us proper conduct and the trait of modesty - that the one who is greater should consult and ask permission of the lesser. Had it said 'I will make humanity,' we would not have learned that He spoke with His court... And the answer is nearby: 'and G-d created the human,' where it does not say 'and they created...'"

Obviously, the trait of modesty is so important, so crucial, that it is necessary for the Torah to teach it to us even when doing so leaves a clear opening for distortion of its message. And in telling us of G-d's humility at the very moment of our Creation, the Torah hints to us how much this trait affects our own development. As we see later - the humblest of men (Moses) is the one who merited to receive the Torah from G-d's mouth!

Then, says Rashi, "in our image" means "to understand and to discern." What is it that makes us G-dly? Our ability to look at things and reach beyond the physical. Koko the gorilla can tell objects apart, and tell you what it wants for dinner. But don't expect a discussion of philosophy. Another fundamental of Judaism -- it is our ability to reason and understand that is the very core of our spirituality.

But that comes with a warning: "And let them rule..." continues the verse. The word used, however, is "V'Yirdu" -- Rashi: "This language contains a meaning of rulership (Ridui) and a meaning of descent (Yerida). If he merits, he will rule over the animals, and if he does not merit, he will descend before them."

It is up to us: if we use our ability to reason and we seek out spirituality, then we hold ourselves high over the animals. But if we use our brains merely as tools for physical benefit - to seek out pleasures more efficiently than Koko ever could - then by using a spiritual gift for profane purposes, we show ourselves to be lower than those same animals.

The decision is ours.


Text Copyright © 1994 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 

ARTICLES ON TETZAVEH AND PURIM:

View Complete List

Divine Reflections
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

The Light of the Menorah and the Absence of Moshe
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Kohen Gadol
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

When Things Look Bleak
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

The Game is Over
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

The Ballad of Mayer
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

ArtScroll

There is Knowing, and there is Knowing
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

See No Evil
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Gd the Source of Life
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Phase of Glory
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Too Humble?
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5768

Behind the Purim Mask
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

> Battle the Amalek Within
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Sacrifice by Learning Torah
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Many Can Have "Urim" - Power; But Few Have "Tumim" Power
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Hey! You Never Know!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information