Bereishit: Let us make Man

God said “Let us make man…” And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Bereishit 1:26, 27).

God says
“Let us make Man –
be My partner,
embody My image.”

In the beginning
God clothes the naked,
at the end
He buries a man.

This is the heart of Torah
which ends with lamed
and begins with bet:
lamed and bet spell lev.


The Talmud (Sotah 14a) says that the Torah both begins and ends with God performing acts of loving kindness. The first (in Bereishit 3:21) is when God Himself clothes Adam and Eve, while the last (in Devarim 34:6) is when God Himself buries Moses. God is modeling very hands-on ways of caring for others. Maybe this reflects the essence of Torah, the blueprint of the image in which Man is created, teaching us how to partner God by cultivating compassion in His world.
In Pirkei Avot (2:13), it is told that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai once asked his students what is the essential quality for living a moral life. Of all the replies, (a good (kindly) eye; (to be) a good friend; (to be) a good neighbour; seeing the consequences of one’s actions; a good heart (lev) ), he approved the last, (proposed by R’ Elazar ben Arach), because he said that this contained all the other answers. A good heart, he surmised, would prompt good actions.
Rabbi Abraham Twerski in his book “Let Us Make Man” teaches that the enigmatic words which God utters “Let us make Man…” are spoken to us, telling us that we need to partner God in “creating” ourselves in His image. Unlike animals which are created complete, we are created incomplete but with the potential to work on ourselves.
The commentary in the Hertz Chumash points out that Man alone among living creatures, is gifted, like his Creator, with moral freedom and will. Man is thus capable of guiding his actions in the service of moral and religious ideals. The Rambam says that on this account Man is said to have been made in the form and image of God.

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