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 MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Listen to the Mussar
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

In Other Words
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Rebuilding the Temple
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5768

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Taking Action
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Take Vengeance for Hashem
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Which is the Bigger Wonder?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Criticm - To Accept or to Defend
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

When Moshiach Comes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

In a Month We Call -“Av”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

> How to Vow Your Audience
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Unquestioned Answers
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Crossover Holiness
Shlomo Katz - 5760

ArtScroll

Jewish Movement
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Passion for Kavod
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

It Defies Belief
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762



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