“And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Many different artists try to sketch a portrait of Adam, God’s first human creation. What did Adam look like? Was he heavenly? Earthly? Listen as Dr. Tamar Kadari, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, explores a midrash from Genesis Rabbah.
Full transcription below:
Many different artists try to sketch a portrait of Adam, the first human creation by God.
What did he look like? Was he more heavenly? Was he more earthly? The verses say that he was made in the image of God. What does this mean? His intelligence, his wisdom, his ability to distinguish between good and bad?
The midrash in Genesis Rabbah tells us an interesting story. It says that when Adam was created, the angels in heaven thought he was God. They even wanted to exclaim “Kadosh, kadosh! – Holy, holy!” in front of him. When God saw this, immediately he changed something in Adam so as to make him mortal. God gave him the need to sleep. And then when Adam slept, the angels understood he was not God.
This Midrash tries to say that the image of God means something resembling the looks of God. Adam looked like God. That was his image. He looked like God.
I think that in this kind of description the Rabbis want to tell us that Adam was sublime. He had something in him very different and unique. That is the idea they want to express through this very interesting Midrash.
Shavua Tov from Schechter.
Tamar Kadari is the Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and a lecturer for Midrash and Aggadah. She received her PhD in Midrashic literature from Hebrew University and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at The University of Pennsylvania. In 2009 Dr. Kadari received a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) to head a research group preparing a critical edition of Song of Songs Rabbah. Her research interests include biblical women in the eyes of the rabbis, aesthetics and beauty in rabbinic literature and literary readings of midrash. Dr. Kadari is also a sculptor whose work has been exhibited in galleries in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.