We are God’s Avatar-So Act Like It

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One of the ongoing debates among Bible scholars and Bible readers is understanding what it means that human beings are made “in the image of God”. (Gen 1:27)

Often “made in the image of God” is meant to indicate that human beings have an innate dignity, that there is worth to every one. Or, alternatively, that there is an aspect of God’s essence embedded in every one of us. Some Bible scholars argue for a more straightforward response. The Hebrew word for “image, “tzelem” literally means “sculpture”-therefore human beings are, quite literally God’s walking, talking icon. A sculpture of God.
Or, as we might put it, God’s avatar. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught that the reason we are forbidden to make an image of God is because God already has an image-us. Imagine life if we really treated one another like a walking, talking, breathing, moving avatar for God. We would be more solicitous and respectful of one another; we would cut each other a lot more slack; we would have more kindness and compassion for one another-and maybe, just maybe, just maybe; we would think twice, or maybe more than twice, before doing physical harm to one another.

As we bid goodbye to another week of pain in the world and the unbelievable cruelty of human beings one to the other-shabbat shalom


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