web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Reflections on the Divine Image

What does it mean when we say that man was created in the image of God?
Rabbi Norman Lamm

Rabbi Norman Lamm

Share Button

“Today, if I and some of my contemporaries are observing the Jewish tradition, then it is because we are the dissenters, the nein-sagers. For we are the ones who say ‘no’ to the desecration of the Sabbath, ‘no’ to the creeping assimilation that ridicules all of Judaism and threatens its very life, ‘no’ to all the forces that seek to degrade our people and diminish the uniqueness of Israel that is its dignity and its preeminence. You are the conformist.”

This is the kind of force, the kind of courage, the kind of conviction that has sustained us throughout the ages. It is that which has given us the power to say “no” to the threats of Haman, the cruelties of Chmielnicki, the genocide of Hitler, as well as the sugarcoated missionizing of more enlightened enemies of Judaism. We demonstrated the image of God when we exercised our freedom and said “no” to all this.

I am not suggesting that we ought to be destructively negative. It is, rather, that when we fully exercise our critical functions and faculties, then the good will come to the fore of itself. It is because I have confidence in the innate powers of the good that I suggest we concentrate on denying evil. “Depart from evil and do good” (Psalms 34:15). If you pit all your energies into negating evil, then good will be done of its own accord.

It is this power to say “no” that we must exercise in our relations with our fellow Jews in the state of Israel. For, in addition to all our constructive efforts on behalf of the upbuilding of the land, we must also be able to call a halt to the creeping paganism that plagues it.

When we find that in our own Orthodox community in Israel certain things are done which serve only to desecrate the name of God, we must not be shy. We must rise and as one say “no” to all those forces which would compromise the sanctity of the Torah and the sanctity of the Holy Land.

In our own American Jewish community, we must, here too, be the critics. And when, to mention just a seemingly trivial matter, certain artists and entertainers who are Jewish, and who rely upon the community as such for acceptance of what they have to offer, elect to entertain on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, we must say “no.” We must realize that it is no longer the domain of one’s own conscience when the matter is a public demonstration of contempt for American Jewry. “And the preeminence of man over beast is ayin” – we must not sheepishly go along with everything that famous people are willing to tell us.

We must be men, we must be human beings, we must use the freedom that God gave us when He created us in His image, and learn when to say “no.”

I conclude with the statement by one of the greatest teachers of Judaism, a man who indeed showed, in his life, that he knew the value of “no.” It was Rabbi Akiba, the man who was able to stand up to the wrath and the might of the whole Roman Empire and say “no” to tyranny and to despotism, who taught us, “Beloved is man that he was created in the image of God” (Avot 3:18).

Beloved indeed, and precious and unique and irreplaceable is man when he has the freedom of will that is granted to him by his Creator. And furthermore, “Hiba yeteira nodaat lo shenivra betzelem” – a special love was given to man by God. It is a special gift when man not only has that freedom but when he knows that he has that freedom – and therefore uses it to combat evil and to allow the great, constructive forces of good, innate in himself, to come to the fore so as to make this a better world for all mankind.

 

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, a pioneer in Jewish education whose association with Yeshiva University spanned more than six decades, is one of American Orthodoxy’s most respected scholars, writers, speakers and administrators.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “Reflections on the Divine Image”

  1. Ch Hoffman says:

    when R Lamm was a dynamic force in the Jewish Community, he was a real powerhouse.

    Then he became a slave to the principle of institutional self-preservation, and committed the ultimate sin of sweeping his problem under someone else' rug.

    It should be a lesson to all who aspire to greatness, that running an organization distorts one's viewpoint.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukrane, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

More Articles from Rabbi Norman Lamm
Rabbi Norman Lamm

A thousand years ago, the great Rabbi Sa’adia Gaon taught that our Torah is reasonable and that the human intellect, by itself, can discover the great truths taught in Scripture. Given enough time and brilliance, the human mind can, unaided, arrive at the precepts and concepts revealed by God at Sinai.

Rabbi Norman Lamm

What does it mean when we say that man was created in the image of God?

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/reflections-on-the-divine-image/2013/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: