Acting in the Image of God
I often see a reference to people being “created in the image of God.” I think this is a beautiful way to treat others, but I don't always see people acting this way. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The verse in Genesis 1:27 primarily teaches that the human being – like God – has a degree of free will and independence.
But you are correct that the idea of “image of God” should spill over into our interpersonal relationships as well. We should treat others with kindness and respect because every human is created in the image of God. Irrespective of race, level of intelligence, or degree of physical fitness. In identifying the Godliness within each person, we not only honor the individual, but bring more of God's presence into the world as well.
Consider the following story, which occurred about 100 years ago in Europe:
One day, a man reported that a great rabbi was walking down the road, heading into town for an unexpected visit. This was truly a special occasion! Word spread quickly, and all the townspeople hurried to dress in their finest Shabbos clothes, in order to great the rabbi with great honor and respect.
Soon after, however, it was discovered that the original report was mistaken, and the man thought to be a great rabbi was in fact just an ordinary traveler. So all the townspeople went back to their activities, leaving the traveler to fend for himself. Except for one person. He went out to greet the stranger grandly, and invited him to be the guest of honor at a lavish meal.
The other townspeople saw this and inquired: "Why are you bothering – he's no great rabbi!" To which the man replied, "A human being is a human being. And we must honor him just the same."