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G-d made Man in His Image. He made him in the Image of G-d (1:27).
The Sforno emphasizes that G-d did not create Man as Elokim, but betzelem Elokim: usually translated as 'in the Image of G-d'. He explains that Man is indeed born with the potential to become as 'Elokim'. He does that by spending his entire life acquiring wisdom and living positively, so that he may pass to eternal life after the demise of the physical body. If he chooses that path, he progresses by virtue of his own efforts from 'tzelem Elokim' to being 'ke-Elokim' - like G-d. But if fills his life with worthless activities, he will fail to reach that destiny - he will be compared to 'the animals that perish' (Psalms 49:21).
This idea may be expanded when observing that the word Elokim elsewhere is translated as 'judge' - for example: 'if the thief is not found, the house owners shall approach Elokim' (Ex. 22:7) - 'the judges'. The connection between the notion of G-d on one hand, and the judge on the other may be seen in the following comment of Rashi:
On the following day Moses sat to judge the people (Ex. 18:13).
Rashi comments homiletically:
A judge who carries out his duties with complete integrity is reckoned… as being G-d's partner in the Creation.
Broadening this idea, G-d did not complete the Creation. He endowed Mankind with special abilities to initiate and carry through activities for the benefit of Creation, with the objective of leaving the planet a better place than he found it. In doing so, a person starts life as being in betzelem Elokim, and progresses towards being ke-Elokim - as G-d.
However, there is no short cut to the top - tempting as it may be. The snake suggested to Eve a quick fix when she persuaded to partake of the forbidden fruit:
For G-d knows that your eyes will be opened on the day you eat from it. You will be kay-lokim - as G-d, knowing good and evil (3:5).
The Haamek Davar comments that 'being as G-d' means being fully in tune with G-d - as angels: non-mortal beings. A person is not designed to reach that stage in his life because his physical and mental faculties are limited. He does not reach his spiritual destiny by performing a simple act of eating a piece of fruit. He does so by hard work over a long period - for example, by studying and getting the life's experience so that he may act as a competent judge with integrity. He acts as a G-d partner: his duly weighed decision is 'the justice of G-d' (Deut. 1:17). Only when he passes on to his earned Eternal Reward does he merit the capacity, in the words of the snake to be 'as G-d, knowing good and evil'.
As R. Tarfon puts it:
'The day (life) is short. There is a lot of work to be done… The reward is great… and the Master of the House (G-d) is in a hurry (Ethics of the Fathers 2:15).
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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