In the Image of God

Continuing the theme of words that inspire me from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, this particular quotation particularly resonates with me. It speaks to us about our origins as humans, as part divine image and part worthless dust. When we are sad, depressed, and feeling less than competent and successful, it is good to remember that we are created in the image of the Holy One, who I like to say, doesn’t make mistakes. When we are feeling full of ourselves, it is good to remember our origin as dust of the earth! This following is edited Rabbi Heschel’s Insecurity and Freedom:

It is the creation of adam (human) that opens a glimpse into the thought of God, into the meaning beyond the mystery.

“And God said: I will make adam in my image, after My likeness…. And God created adam in God’s image, in the image of God God created him” (Genesis I:26 f.).

These words…contain, according to Jewish tradition, the fundamental statement about the nature and meaning of humans.

There are two ways in which the Bible speaks of the creation of humans. In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, which is devoted to the creation of the physical universe, adam is described as having been created in the image and likeness of God. In the second chapter, which tells us of the commandment not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, adam is described as having been formed out of the dust of the earth. Together, image and dust express the polarity of the nature of humans. (We are) formed of the most inferior stuff in the most superior image.

(Humans), then, are involved in a polarity of a divine image and worthless dust…a duality of mysterious grandeur and pompous aridity, a vision of God and a mountain of dust. It is because of being dust that one’s iniquities may be forgiven, and it is because of being an image that one’s righteousness is expected.

May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,

Rabbi Debbie Israel