The gift of freedom, the mission to reflect G-d’s image

Torah Portion: B’resheet/Genesis (In the Beginning) 1:1-6:8

Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 42:5-43:10

Today we begin the cycle of reading the Torah again with our reading in Genesis. In our reading we are faced with several issues that are extremely important to us all as we go through our days given to us by the Father.

I would like to  begin with two verses in Genesis 3:8-9. “They heard the sound of the L-rd G-d walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the L-rd G-d among the trees of the garden.” In verse nine, “And the L-rd G-d called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? This question has echoed through time. It speaks to us today. Where are we? It is important to remember here that man was the one hiding from G-d, not the other way around. Have you ever heard G-d ask you that question? Where are you? Why have you forgotten me? Sometime when we are struggling we ask G-d where is He. The real question is where are we.

I would like to add a side observation on this incident in the garden.  G-d confronted Adam and Eve and even as they blamed each other for what had happened, G-d, in His compassion, clothed them. He covered them.

Now as we go back to the opening verses of Genesis we read in Genesis 1:26-27, “And G-d said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So G-d created man in His own image, in the image of G-d created He him; male and female He created them.” These two verses tell us we are all created in the image of G-d. 

Several revolutionary statements are set out in these two verses. Man created in the image of G-d, what does this mean? G-d has no form? He is spirit. So when we read these verses how do we interpret them?

How do we go through our day, living our life in the image of G-d? In Exodus 34:6-7 we read of the attributes  of G-d. These qualities of G-d would seem to me to be reflective of what it means to be created in the image of G-d. These traits include being merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness and forgiving. These qualities of G-d are truly the image of G-d. However, they are not the norm in our world today nor have they ever been the world’s norm. In many countries around the world, even Christian countries, these qualities are in short supply.  Even when you read scripture, most countries were governed by the powerful with little regard for the people.

Many times morality and ethics do not enter into decision making. Right and wrong are usually not the governing principles. However, here in our portion today we read not of power and position but rather a completely different way of looking at life. We see the introduction of the Hebrew word, “tov” meaning good and “ra” meaning evil. The standard the Father set for us as His people is this. Are we living our life for tov? Are we reflecting His image to the people we relate to each day?  We all are to live life for the good and not for the evil. To know what this means we look to the verses I mentioned earlier in Exodus 34:6-7. G-d’s most fateful gift to us was freedom. As Adam and Eve misused that freedom so do we. This separates us from the Father. We find Him walking in the garden and asking us where are we? Will we use our freedom to touch people or will we not. The image of G-d lives in each of us. It even lives in the life of people not like us. G-d loves the world not only our tiny part of it. These verses in Genesis teach us that all of us have worth, not just some people. This is what G-d bestowed on His creation. It is our mission to be able to live that out every day.

Bless each of you as you go through your days living out your life in the image of G-d.