Created in God’s Image

A common question that many ask themselves is in regards to the idea that we are created in the image of God. For a Jew it especially doesn’t make sense, considering Hashem is completely non-corporeal and beyond all physical constraints, how can it be said that we are made in His image? Various answers have been put forward, such as that we are created with the capacity for speech, which is a uniquely human thing that Hashem is described as doing. The Zohar HaKodosh has a particularly interesting explanation of this concept, brought in regards to how a person’s physical characteristics such as hair color and texture, eye shape and color, and lines on hands reveal different things about a person. Following is a restatement of a highly fascinating part of the Zohar.

The Zohar in Parshas Yisro, daf 75b-76a states that a posuk in Yechezkel that we learn to mean that Hashem has His hands open to receive people who wish to return in t’shuva to Him can. On another level we learn that the words ידי אדם (hands of person) there is to teach us that Hashem hid all the forms and the exalted secrets of the Higher Worlds within the כף (palm) of our hands, and through this are we made in His image. In our hands, shown through our ten fingers, are the עשר אמירן (Ten Utterances) of Creation, five on the left, five on the right.

The Zohar brings a posuk from Iyov, “עור ובשר תלבישני” (Skin and flesh you have clothed me [with]). So the question must be asked, what is a person? Just flesh and bones and sinews? Certainly not! For sure the person is nothing other than the soul, and the bones, flesh, and sinews are naught but the clothing itself, they are possessions of a person, and not the person himself. Hence why when one passes from the world, the person leaves and the body stays behind.

The skin that a person is clothed with, states the Zohar, these being the bones and sinews, all of this is contained within the secrets of the Highest Wisdom, in order to correspond with that which is above. There it brings the posuk where it says Hashem spreads out Shomayim like a great curtain, and that the Mishkan had an outer layer made of a series of curtains made of the skins of rams dyed red and Techashim (see Maseches Shabbos), these are the external garments of the Divine that correspond to the skin of a person.

The bones and sinews correspond correspond to the chariots and Heavenly Host, which interestingly enough in our modern scientific understanding, we know that there are countless cells within our bones and every part of our blood. This is a way we can see how the Zohar was written through Ruach HaKodesh, since they didn’t have microscopes and a possibility to see cells, even if one believes that Moshe DeLeon was the sole author and not Rashbi, chas v’sholom.

The flesh covers the various “chariots and hosts” within the body. This corresponds to the levels of the Raki’im, the Firmaments that cover everything in ascending layers. All these are in the internal garments of a person, and this is the secret of the construction of a person, and all this is the secret of what is below reflecting that which is above. This is the meaning of the verse that Elokim made HaAdam in his image, in the image of God.

The further secrets that we derive from this relationship, that Man is created in the image of Hashem according to the secrets of the Higher Worlds, that there are stars, planets, and constellations in the higher firmament. We can learn things that are going on personally and in the world through study of the various positions of these things, as Chazal teach us particularly at the end of Maseches Shabbos and various hints in the rest of Shas. The stars, constellations, and planets correspond to the various lines and marks on our skin which the חכימי לבא (Wise of heart) know how to interpret and understand.

To summarize the above: Hashem created us people in His image and this is shown through various examples, comparing our body parts to parts of the Mishkan and the other aspects of Creation used as garments for Hashem, as they conceal Him and the netzotzos hakedoshim. The wise initiate into Kabbalah can understand much about people simply through their physical traits, just as they can understand Torah and the ratzon Hashem through occurrences in corporeal reality.

May Hashem allow us all to merit to understand these aspects of Torah and implement them properly, that we should know Him completely.

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