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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Bereshis

In Hashem's Image

"This shop is beautiful. Look at the artwork. Each one of the crafted objects on display is very special. Are you the owner of this shop, sir?"


"Who made all of this beautiful craftwork?"

"I did."

"You are a master craftsman, sir. Your skills are outstanding. Your jewelry, pottery, painting, metalwork, woodwork, and glasswork are all very fine looking."

"Thank you very much. It is all Chasdei Hashem. Please let me show you the piece that I am most proud of. None of the other craft items was made entirely by me. I either bought the parts from a supplier, or instructed another artisan to complete the job. Some of them were done by machine. However, this piece is different. I made it from scratch with my own hands. I put my heart and soul into it. I feel that it is the best expression of my skills and my artwork."

"Sir, it is magnificent. Your skills are incomparable."

This story is a parable to the creation of man. The verses state, "And G-d said, 'Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.' So G-d created man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them" (from Bereshis 1:26,27). What does that mean? The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh offers a simple explanation of the uniqueness of man. Hashem did not create man in the same way that He created other creatures. "Let the waters teem with living creatures" (1:20) Let the earth bring forth living creatures" (1:24). He spoke to the earth and the water, and they brought forth life. Man was different. The Creator said that He would create man. In His great humility, He spoke in the plural. However, He alone gathered the earth, formed the shape, and blew into it the breath of life (so to speak). We human beings have the unique privilege of being the only creatures created by Hashem alone, with His own hands (so to speak). What a zechus (merit)! However, it does not stop there.

The Keli Yakar explains that the creation of man demonstrates Hashem's rule over the universe. He created humanity for His honor. This living being, more than any other, would show the world that Hashem is The Creator and The Ruler. We were created in Hashem's image. But Hashem has no image! He is totally spiritual! True, however, whenever He chooses to reveal Himself to His prophets, it is in the image of man. Therefore, we bear the image that He chooses to be identified with. Another tremendous zechus!

And so, Hashem is like the craftsman of our story. Man is His masterpiece creation; the one that most demonstrates His skills; the one that He created with His own hands. He is most proud of us, as the Mishnah states "Man is dear (to Hashem) because he was created in His image. But it was an act of special favor that it was made known to him that he was created in His image" (Pirkei Avos 3:14). One who knows that he was created in Hashem's image has a different impression of himself. He has self worth. He knows that he is the pinnacle of creation. Therefore, he acts differently. He has tremendous self-respect, and respect for others, who were also created in Hashem's image. That is the greatness of man. That is our essence.

Kinderlach . . .

You are a Tselem Elokim! You are truly important, precious, and very valuable. You are the pinnacle of Hashem's creation. He, with His own hands, created you (so to speak) in His image, to show His Greatness and His Kingship. Your every action conveys greatness. Your appearance is neat and clean, your eating habits are dignified, and your speech is refined. You treat others with respect, and you fulfill Hashem's will with all of your might. What an honor! What a privilege! To be a Tselem Elokim!

Chosson and Kallah (2002)

"Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!"

"What a beautiful chassanah (wedding)."

"Yes, it is a beautiful thing. The chosson (groom) and kallah (bride) join to become one, in a holy union based on love and deep commitment to each other. We participate in their happiness by singing, dancing, and eating together with them."

"And Elokim (G-d) blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." (Bereishis 2:3). This day is Shabbos Kodesh (The Holy Sabbath), a day when we eat, dress, speak, walk, and even pray differently than the rest of the week. The Avudraham points out that each tefillah (prayer) on Shabbos is unique. At night we say "Atta kidashta"; in the morning we say "Yismach Moshe" followed by "Musaf" (additional prayer), and in the afternoon we finish with "Atta echad". The prayers correspond to a chassanah between Hashem (the chosson) and the Jewish People (the kallah). "Atta kidashta" (you sanctified) is like the kiddushin (betrothal) which the chosson gives the kallah. "Yismach Moshe" (And Moshe will be happy) is the celebration of singing and dancing. Mussaf is the korbonos (sacrifices) that are eaten at a se'udas mitzvah (festive meal). Finally, "Atta echad" (You are One) is the unity that the chosson and kallah achieve through marriage.

Kinderlach . . .

Shabbos is a day when we can achieve the impossible... unity with Hashem. By observing the mitzvos of Shabbos - resting, eating, drinking, wearing Shabbos clothes, speaking only about holy subjects, learning and praying, we can come as close to Hashem as a kallah to a chosson. That can make us as happy as a chosson and kallah on their wedding day. How wonderful! Kinderlach, make this Shabbos and every Shabbos as special as a chassanah. Put extra effort into the mitzvos of the day. You will feel closeness with Hashem and happiness beyond words.

Parasha Questions:

List the ancestry of Noach back to Adam HaRishon (5:3-29)

How was Chanoch related to Chanoch? (4:1,17, 5:18)

Compare the quality of Kayin's offering with that of Hevel. (4:3,4 and Rashi)

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