14 Oct Let “Us” Make Man?
And G-d said, “Let us make man in our image, after our l i k e n e s s … ” (Bereshit 1:26) When the Torah describes the steps leading up to the creation of man, ambiguous language is used. Hashem appears to be consulting with angels and suggests “let us make man in our image,” using the plural rather than singular terms, which may cause one to infer that Hashem did not create man alone. The Gemara in Megilla cites this verse as one of the verses that miraculously was revised by all seventy rabbis in the Septuagint translation to אעשה” – I will make” in the singular, so that the translation would not be misunderstood. Rashi quotes Hazal’s explanation that Hashem purposely consulted with the angels: ויתקנאו בו, לפיכך נמלך בהם לפי שאדם בדמות המלאכים של הקדוש ברוך הוא למדנו מכאן: .ענותנותו We learn Hashem’s humility from here: Since man is created in the image of angels, they may get jealous; therefore, He consulted with them. The reason Hashem consulted with the angels was so that they would not be envious of humans. This action portrays Hashem’s humility, as if it were a joint decision. The Ramban offers a different approach: אשר נפלא בו משאר הנבראים שאינה גוף ולא תמות….לספר הפלא לוקח ממנה וידמה ברוח לעליונים לשניהם במתכונת גופו לארץ אשר ואמר ”בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ“ כי ידמה ויתן הוא יתברך הרוח מפי עליון כאשר עשתה בבהמה ובחיה…. אָדָם שתוציא הארץ הגוף מיסודיה כלומר אני והארץ הנזכרת נַעֲשֶׂה והבהמה…. אמר באדם ”נַעֲשֶׂה“ גודל מעלתו כי אין טבעו כטבע החיה .נתייחד בעשיית האדם מאמר בעבור A [separate] proclamation was designated for the creation of man because of his stature, since his nature is not like the nature of animals and beasts…[and] with man, He said, “let us make.” That is to say, I and the earth (that was mentioned), let us make man: The earth will bring forth the body from the elements as it did with the beasts and the animals…“and He blew into his nostrils, a living soul.” And it stated, “in our image, in our likeness,” since he would be similar to both of them, in the configuration of his body, to the earth from which he was taken; and he would resemble the higher ones in his soul, which is not a body and does not die…to tell of the miraculous wonder which separates him from all the creatures. The Ramban explains that a separate proclamation was designated for the creation of man because of his stature. Man is not like animals and beasts. Hashem uses the terminology of “let us make” in the plural, as if to say, “I and the earth.” The earth will contribute to the creation of the body, as is stated: “Man was formed from the dust of the earth.” Furthermore, man’s soul was created with a breath of the Almighty, as it is stated: “and He blew into his nostrils, a living soul.” Man is a combination of ruhani (spiritual) and gashmi (physical). Man was the first creature to comprise a synthesis of spiritual and physical elements. This is a miraculous wonder! The Shulhan Arukh cites several understandings of the term: asher yatzar et ha’adam behokhma – “that man was created using great wisdom.” The Rama explains that we thank Hashem for the miracle of creating man with a synthesis of both physical and spiritual elements. The genius of that creation is a sensational phenomenon. That combination that was used in the creation of man is evidence of Hashem’s great wisdom, and we express our appreciation when we witness the awesome functioning of the physical body each time we use the washroom. A story is told that one of the sons of Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik expressed that the blessing of Asher Ge’alanu, recited during the Pesah Seder, is one of the most beautiful blessings. Rav Aaron Soloveitchik differed with his son and told him that in his humble opinion, the greatest blessing is one we recite on a daily basis: the blessing of asher yatzar et ha’adam, recited after one uses the washroom. It is about the uniqueness of man. Unlike other creatures who were created from dust alone, man is a being that comprises both physical and spiritual characteristics. He is infused with the breath of Hashem and is created in His image. May we recognize the wisdom that went into the creation of man and live up to Hashem’s expectations of us.