Monday, March 22, 2021

What image?

The divine symbolism of man is not in what he has—such as reason or the power of speech—but in what he is potentially: he is able to be holy as God is holy. To imitate God, to act as He acts in mercy and love, is the way of enhancing our likeness. Man becomes what he worships. “Says the Holy One, blessed be He: He who acts like me shall be like me. ” Says Rabbi Levi ben Hama: “Idolators resemble their idols (Psalms 115:8); now how much more must the servants of the Lord resemble Him.

. . .

But man has failed. And what is the consequence? “I have placed the likeness of my image on them and through their sins I have upset it” is the dictum of God.”

The likeness is all but gone. Today, nothing is more remote and less plausible than the idea: man is a symbol of God. Man forgot whom he represents or that he represents.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 86–87 (emphasis original)

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