Questions and Suggested Answers

Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz

Question 1

"In his image" in the mold that had been cast for him; for all else had been created by words but he by hand, as it is stated (Psalm 139, 5): "Thou hast laid Thy hand upon me." He was stamped as a coin is minted. "In the image of God he created him" - the verse goes on to explain that the same image prepared for him was indeed the image of his Maker. Rashi Genesis (1, 27)

"So God created man in his image" - the one now in the world. Lekah Tov

Since the phrase "in his image" can be taken to refer to man as many have imagined, the text proceeds to specify: "in the image of God" as the sages say: "i.e. such and such a thing." There are countless examples of this in the Torah and Holy Writ. Kaspi

What is the difference between the above explanations? (Have we three or only two separate interpretations?)


According to Rashi the word B'tzalmo - "in his image" refers to man. The Midrash Lekah Tov would also translate similarly. In terms of explanation, Rashi and Kaspi see in the verse a message that man is fashioned with a Divine component. Lekah Tov views the verse as providing objective background information as to how the human being came into existence. Thus there are two separate explanations:1. Rashi and Kaspi

2. Lekah Tov


Which commentator have we followed in our discussion of the sidra?




Question 2

"In his image" in the image of man. Alternatively: "in the image of God." Awesomely: "in the image of God He created him." Bachor Shor

What does he mean by "awesomely"? Hebrew: al derech ha'ayom - literally: "the terrible or awful approach": Cf.: the phrase: "great and terrible God" or Blake in Tiger Tiger: "thy awful symmetry."


Bechor Shor in using the term "awesomely" is reacting emotionally i.e. being overwhelmed by the verse's message and meaning.


Question 3

"In the image of God he created him." Cf.: "and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man" (Gen. (9, 5)) and : "The man who commits adultery with a man's wife, even if he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife (Leviticus (20, 10)). Shadal

What is common to all three verses?


In each of the verses we have a repetition of the initial phrase in order to give emphasis and force to the message.

Question 4

Which of the explanations in question 1 does Shadal follow?


Shadal is following the explanation of Kaspi.


Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem





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08 Sep 2005 / 4 Elul 5765 0