Breishis

[Based in part on Imrei Baruch: Breishis, maimar gimmel]

Rav Baruch Simon writes about 2 ways to interpret a seemingly odd pasuk in B’reishis 1:26
ויאמר א-לה-ים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו
The Torah uses the plural form of na’aseh, when it would seem more appropriate to use the singular – e’eseh – since it was only Hashem creating Adam Harishon and no one else. Why the plural form?

1. Rashi of course notices this and gives the explanation that because man was created in the image of Hashem, and the angels would therefore be jealous of man, Hashem consulted with the angels to teach the trait of derech eretz and humility, to make the angels feel part of the process. The most Supreme, All-knowing Being consulted with His “court”, as Rashi puts it, to teach us that a more elevated person can still learn from his subordinate.

The lesson would seem to be that one shouldn’t be such a ba’al gaivah and think that he/she has nothing to learn from someone perceived to be less intelligent or less distinguished. Rashi goes on to say that the plural phrasing Hashem chose, left the door open for heretics to jump in and say that Hashem was not the singular force behind creation and unparalleled master of the world. Nevertheless, it was more important to teach us this midah of derech eretz and anivus. The Beis Halevi says that we see from here that it’s better to have good midot than have completely accurate options of what was said. You sacrifice the possibility of being misunderstood by a few critics, to be able to teach an exemplary midah to the masses.

2. The Yismach Moshe (R’ Moshe Teitlebaum zt”l) has a different understanding of the plural form of na’aseh, and explains the verb not just as a past “idea” Hashem shared with us and then carried out, but a continuing directive, that we humans are Hashem’s partner, k’viyachol, in the creation of what Man ought to be. Hashem created everything that comprises a human being, from biochemical inner workings to mental capacity to the spiritual neshama. However, we were each given bechira chofsheet and must USE all that Hashem created and gave to us. If we don’t, then we’re merely silos of unrealized potential. Every day we wake up and come closer to fulfilling our tafkid and realizing our potential, we are participating in creation and Hashem’s intention for “נעשה”

Hashem gave us the keys, and we must maximize our strengths to participate in נעשה אדם i.e “be a man” and make something of ourselves, together with siyata dishmaya.

As an extension of this second explanation, many meforshim note that after the creation of all the species on the 5th day, the Torah writes “And Hashem saw that it was good” – “Ki tov”.

However, when Hashem creates Man on the 6th day, we do not find this expression. There is noki tov by the creation of Adam.The lowly insect gets a ‘ki tov'; the snakes, the birds, the elephants get a ‘ki tov’, yet Man himself, formed in G-d’s Own Image (1:26), at the top of the totem pole, does not merit a ‘ki tov’ ?!?

Rav Yosef Albo explains that when an insect or a tree is created, it is possible to say ‘It is good’. Concerning every creation in the world it is possible to say ‘It is good’ because when an animal is created it has basically reached perfection. We don’t expect much more more from that animal.

Everything is ‘Good’ as created, except for Man. Regarding Man, it is not sufficient that he was created – that is just the very beginning. He is far from perfect; more is expected of Man, as he grows and reaches his potential. We cannot say ki tov yet.

The Gemara in Berachos 17a says that when the Tannaim used to depart from each other, they gave themselves a blessing: “You should see your world in your lifetime” (Olamecha tireh b’chayecha). Rabbi Frand shared an explanation he heard from Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l. He said the word ‘Olamecha’ (“your world”) comes from the root he’elem = that which is hidden; that which has not yet reached its potential.

The blessing of “Olamecha tireh b’chayecha” was that they should be able to see their own potential in their lifetime. The blessing was, that with Hashem’s partnering assistance of na’aseh, let us be able to say about you, ki tov – to see in our friends the unique potential that we each posses.

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