I have edited and reproduced this article that I wrote several years ago and I am posting it just before Rosh Hashanah 5773 in honor of the celebration of the creation of man.
The following blog was inspired by a teaching by Rabbi Freundlich of Atlanta Scholars Kollel. The following is taken from my notes and thoughts on his lecture; Ramban: Five minutes a day – Bereishis (Genesis) 1:26
What does it mean when the Torah says; “Let us make man in our image” when HaShem (G-d) tells us that He has no form or image?
On the 1st day of creation G-d created all the elements that would be needed for creating everything else. By the time we get to the firth and sixth days we get a glimpse in to the creating process.
Heretics who have not been taught correctly the Hebrew and its proper interpretation will make falsified claims of the scripture. But when one learns and looks at the whole passage in context the simple and plain meaning comes forth from the word of G-d.
Bereishis 1: 24-26
And G-d said: ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.’ And it was so. And G-d made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground after its kind; and G-d saw that it was good. And G-d said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
A wealth of information is revealed when one digs deeper into this passage.
The first thing we find is that G-d tells the earth to bring forth living creatures informing us that the earth is taking part in G-d’s creating process. We see this when we continue down within the same uninterrupted flow of statements. God is having a conversation with the earth – they are not only partners in the creation, The earth and G-d are partners in the creation of man.
Then G-d says, “Let us make man in our image…”; G-d just finished telling the earth to bring forth animals then He speaks again, “Let us…”. What is learned here? That G-d is still speaking to the earth, the ‘us’ in the verse is G-d and the earth partnering together in the creation process.
The message here is that G-d, is telling the earth to bring forth man with all the physicality’s of the animal kingdom – the image of animals, flesh and bone – then G-d said that He will place within man a part of Him, a part of the Elyon , the Divine Spark, in man that will cause him to become a living soul. The eternal part of man or Divine Spark is not seen; as we have not seen any form or image of G-d and thus from that part of Him is where our souls come from.
The whole complete creation of man is done in a partnership, The earth produced the physical body and G-d produced the soul, thus man became a living being containing the elements of heaven & earth.
Now we have a deeper understanding of the ‘us’ in verse 26
Terry W. Hayes