The Bible (Genesis 1:26) states that man was created in “G‑d’s image.” What does this mean?


So much wisdom is crammed into those two words! Allow me to share just a bit of it.

The statement that we are created in the image of G‑d means that we were formed as a reflection of our Creator’s attributes and characteristics. This cannot be taken to mean that we literally look, feel or think like G‑d does, because He has no form and is not limited in any way. Rather, we are like a one-dimensional reflection of a real object. From the reflection we can have an inkling of the original, but the reflection is literally nothing in comparison to the original.

This is expressed in many ways: some physical, others psychological, and still others are purely in the spiritual realm. Here are some of them:

  1. The physical body of man, with eyes, ears, a nose, two hands, two feet, and so on is a reflection of the G‑dly attributes which prevail openly in the spiritual worlds, and in a concealed manner in our world. The shape of our body is similar to the placement of the G‑dly sefirot (attributes). We have a right side and a left side because G‑d expresses Himself in two ways, right (kindness) and left (severity). And so on.
  2. The Torah teaches us that man alone has free choice. All other creations are doing exactly what they are programmed to do, and cannot change their natures. Only the human being has to power to grow, mature and change, because he or she is a reflection of G‑d, who is unlimited.
  3. Man was endowed with the power to think independently, to peer into the future and to make rational decisions. This is a reflection of G‑d’s infinite wisdom.1
  4. “Just as the soul fills the body, so does G‑d fill the world.” Our bodies are vitalized by our souls, but our souls themselves are invisible. Yet, through seeing the life in the body, one can appreciate the soul within. G‑d enlivens and creates the worlds, yet He is invisible. But He is evident in every creation.2