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ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו

And G-d said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” (1:26)

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Why is the word naaseh, let us make, in the plural form, used todescribe the creation of man? It should have said, “I willmake.” The Imrei Emes explains that man is not createdcomplete with an array of middos tovos, positive character traits. Therefinement of these character traits entails considerable hard work. Indeed,man is a microcosm of the animal world. The nature of all of the animals thatpreceded his creation is a part of him. He must refine and cleanse himself ofany base character traits as he ascends the ladder of spirituality. He mustrecreate himself and become G-d-like. To accomplish this takes more thanhard work; it requires Divine assistance.

Man was created with incredible potential for greatness andperfection. Maximizing this potential is an extension of the work of creation,and, thus, it brings to fruition the Divine statement, “Let Us make man.” Thefinal product, a mature, spiritually, ethically and morally correct man, is theultimate goal of Hashem’s creation. It is Hashem’s desire that man completethis maturation process by his own efforts. Due to the extreme difficulty ofthis process, Hashem lends a hand, as if He is addressing the newlyfashionedcreation we call man, saying, “Let Us do it together. I will giveyou the potential and the capabilities, and I will assist you in the process. Theactual work, however, must be the result of your own doing.” Man is truly apartner in the work of creation. The flip side, however, is quite unnerving. Ifman does not work to achieve his potential, he essentially has a hand indestroying Hashem’s creation. It is all up to us.

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