The liturgy for Rosh Hashana declares: “This is the day of the birth of the world, the birthday of all humankind.” According to scripture on this day, “God created man in His image, in the image of God, He created him; male and female he created them.” This verse, Genesis 1:27 teaches a very important concept: God created all of us and He fashioned all of us mentally and spiritually to be like Him.
Elaborating on this theme, the rabbis taught: “Therefore, Adam was created as a single entity, to create peace amongst humanity, lest one say, ‘My ancestor is greater than yours … Behold God’s greatness.
For a human being imprints many coins with one mold and all the coins look the same, while the Ruler of all rulers, the Holy One, blessed be He, created all of humanity from the mold of Adam and not one is similar to the other.” Therefore, everyone is obligated to say, ‘the world was created for me.’ This demonstrates that if one destroys a single soul, it is as though he has destroyed the entire world. And if one saves a single soul, it is as if one has saved the entire world. (Sanhedrin 4:5)
The Torah teaches that every human being is created in the image of God. The rabbis understand this to mean that every person is unique and at the same time, every person is equal. As images of God we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
The events that took place in Charlottesville are a bleak reminder that despite the progress American society has made in the last half century towards social equality, there are still thousands of Americans who believe that the circumstances of their birth make them superior to others whose skin is another color or who pray to God differently than they do.
Each time they direct their hate at another human being, or group of human beings they do a disservice to the two things they claim to hold most dear, God and country. They defy the Declaration of Independence, which declares that all of us are created as equals. They also offend God who made each of us in His image.
May the Father of all mankind open the eyes of those who hate and guide them on the paths of truth and repentance. May we all act as God’s ambassadors to promote equality, dignity, love and peace in this great nation.
On behalf of my family and the entire Temple Hillel family, I wish you a year of peace and blessing.
Rabbi Steven Graber
Graber is the spiritual leader of Temple Hillel in North Woodmere.