June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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While much of the story of creation in this week’s parsha is shrouded in mystery, one particular comment by God stands out for its ambiguity.

Following the creation of the animals on day five, God proclaims “na’ase adam b’tzalmeinu kidmuteinu,” “let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” The glaring theological question shouts out at us—what does God mean when He says “let us make?” A fundamental tenet of Judaism is the belief in only one Creator. What, then, does God mean here? To whom is He speaking? And, whatever the explanation, why is the Torah written in such an ambiguous way as to potentially cause misinterpretation and misreading of the text?

Rashi immediately notes the obvious difficulty and explains that God certainly created man Himself, without help from any other being. The Torah, he explains, wants to teach us a lesson in humility, and therefore it portrays God as receiving permission from the heavenly angels before creating Man. Rashi adds that although the wording of the pasuk itself could potentially lead to apikorsut—to people believing in the existence of more than one God—because of the importance of the lesson of humility, the text was written in this way.

Alternatively, the Ramban suggests that Hashem was talking to the earth itself—as in contrast to all the other creations of the world, man is created from both the dust of the earth and the breath of God. The pull between the physical side and spiritual side of man will come to define the daily struggle of all of mankind, and therefore the Torah wanted to stress that this innate dichotomy existed already from the moment of man’s creation.

Perhaps, however, we can offer an alternative suggestion, based on a well known Gemara in Kiddushin 30b. The Gemara states that there are three partners in the creation of man: one’s father, mother, and God himself, with the parents accounting for the physical creation of the child, and God providing his spiritual existence. The Gemara then suggests a number of practical halachot related to this unique partnership—most importantly, the relationship between honoring one’s parents and honoring God Himself.

Based on this Gemara, perhaps we can suggest that when God declares “let us make man,” he is in essence speaking to all of mankind. When He creates Adam HaRishon, God does much more than simply produce the first human being—He launches the creation and existence of mankind for all future generations. And while the initial making of Adam HaRishon was done solely by God Himself, the creation of all future humans inherently requires a partnership with man. God therefore turns to mankind and declares “let us make” in recognition of this crucial and compelling partnership.

At first glance, this Torah text and Gemara in Kiddushin are simply relaying a practical point—that both parents and God are technically partners in the creation of every child. However, from a parenting perspective, this message has tremendous significance and meaning—so important, it seems, that God was willing to risk possible misunderstanding and misinterpretation in the text in order to relay it to us.

If Hashem is our partner in creating our children, then by definition He partners with us in raising them as well. While we are their parents here on earth, God is their parent in heaven—Who cares for them deeply and profoundly, as we do. Therefore, He does not simply provide us with the incredible privilege of bringing life into this world, but He remains with us every step of the way in the journey of parenthood. As we work our way through the opportunities, challenges and adventures that come with being a parent, we should realize that Hashem is right there next to us, holding our hands.

Understanding this partnership with God can be incredibly meaningful and comforting. During moments of particular challenge and despair, we always have whom to turn to for support—we are never alone, there is always more we can do. This recognition can also be encouraging, as we are partnering with the best there is.

A recognition of this partnership is important in another way as well. Because this affiliation teaches us that God has not only chosen to partner with us, He has also chosen us to partner with Him. He has given us the privilege to take part in creating and raising His precious children—and charged us with the responsibility to be His physical representatives in this world, and in the lives of His children. We must be aware of this incredible opportunity—and tremendous responsibility—as we strive to raise our kids towards a life of happiness, meaning, and continued avodat Hashem. Our success is, as it were, God’s success as well.

As God prepares to create the first man and launch the journey of mankind across history, He proclaims “let Us make man,” speaking to all parents throughout the ages. He turns to us and asks us to partner with Him in the creation of future generations. This partnership is extremely comforting, as we realize that Hashem is with us every step of the way. At the same time, it also demands of us to recognize the responsibility given to us, as God has entrusted us with His most precious gems—His children.

Shabbat Shalom!


Rav Yossi Goldin is the Menahel Tichon at Yeshivat Pe’er HaTorah, rebbe at Midreshet Tehilla, and Placement Advisor/Internship Coordinator for the YU/RIETS Kollel. He lives with his family in Shaalvim and can be reached at [email protected]

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