Who Is Us?

Shalom aleichem!

Mazel tov to Eilon & Yael Even-Esh on the birth of twin boys!

Mazel tov to Aaron & Raquel Brody on the bar mitzvah of their son Eli!

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One of the programs we have at Chabad is a fellowship called Sinai Scholars. It is an 8-week course (by application only) on the 10 Commandments. In the course, we explore the fundamentals of Judaism, and the goal is to show the relevance of these central ideas, and how they can be applied to life in 2015.This past Tuesday evening, we discussed the Sixth Commandment. Since I don’t really suspect anyone in the course of being likely to transgress “Do not murder,” the discussion centered on the sanctity of life.

One of the sources in our textbook was: “G-d said, ‘Let us make man in our image'” (Genesis 1:26).

Courtney asked: “Who is ‘us?'”

“Good question,” I responded. I explained that the great French commentator Rashi asks the very same question, and I shared the answer with the class. There are other answers, as well, and I thought it might be interesting to share some of them in this forum. So here ya go:

1. Rashi explains that the Torah uses the plural word (even though G-d created mortals on His own) in order to teach proper humility: a great person should consult with a smaller person. This is done even though the plural form gives the heretics the opportunity to use it as fodder for their cannon.

2. Ramban states that the “us” in “Let us make man” is referring to the earth from which man was actually formed. While the earth certainly didn’t play a role in the process of creation, perhaps what it means is that G-d created man from all the elements that had been previously created.

3. Ibn Ezra states that G-d is using the majestic plural, (pluralis majestatis), which can be used by a single person holding a high position.

4. The Midrash states that the “us” is referring to the souls of the righteous — and “Your people are all righteous!” Perhaps this means that G-d consulted, so to speak, with the souls of the righteous, as Rashi writes.

Shabbat Shalom,