Rabbi Ari Lucas Congregation Agudath Israel Caldwell, NJ Parashat Bereshit
ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותינו... – בראשית א:כו
And God said, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness...” Gen 1:26
Many readers are curious about why, when setting out to create humankind, God speaks in the first person plural. Who is “us?” Why doesn’t God say, “I will make man in My image after My likeness”?
Many of the midrashim and commentaries suggest that God consulted with the divine cabinet of angels before creating man and woman. Rashi sees this consultation as proof of God’s humility. God was concerned that the angels might be jealous of another being in the universe created in God’s image, so God sought their advice before making the final decision.
There are two important lessons we can learn from Rashi’s comment.
First, in any “creative” process, collaboration can be an effective way to achieve good results. We might think that it’s easier or quicker to do do things ourselves than to collaborate with others. Working with others might slow down the process or take the project in a different direction. Rashi reminds us that even God seeks advice from time to time. The humility to ask for help is a virtue that ultimately benefits the final product.
Second, when God consulted with the angels it showed God’s concern for their emotional well-being. God wanted the angels to know about God’s plans as a way of bringing them along and creating “buy-in” for the plan. Change can be difficult. Including one’s partners or constituents in the process makes it a little easier. Parents might consider consulting with their children about important decisions like appropriate consequences, education choices, or what’s on the menu for dinner. Teachers can help empower their students and win them over by involving them in decisions for the class. Rabbis can do the same for their communities.
God sought help in the creation of the universe. While most of us don’t have that level of responsibility, I believe we can benefit from following God’s example in whatever tasks we undertake in our own lives.