Rabbi Akiva says in Avos 3:14 to prove that man was created with "Tzelem Elokim":

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, חָבִיב אָדָם שֶׁנִּבְרָא בְצֶלֶם. חִבָּה יְתֵרָה נוֹדַעַת לוֹ שֶׁנִּבְרָא בְצֶלֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ט) כִּי בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים עָשָׂה אֶת הָאָדָם

Why does he not use the earlier statement in Genesis 1:27?

וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

  • How could a verse that predates humanity be used as proof of "חִבָּה יְתֵרָה נוֹדַעַת לוֹ שֶׁנִּבְרָא בְצֶלֶם,"? Oct 8, 2021 at 13:30
  • @MichaBerger because humanity does have copies of the torah, hence you are reading a quote thereof
    – torahmike
    Oct 9, 2021 at 20:08
  • torahmike, Jews have a copy of the Torah. Are non-Jews supposed to? In either case, it turns out I gave the Yachin uVoaz's answer. (ברוך שכוונתי) See @Dov's answer (below). Oct 11, 2021 at 14:50
  • @MichaBerger as I pointed out below, the phrase נוֹדַעַת לוֹ is also used by the other two statements of Reb Akiva as well
    – torahmike
    Oct 11, 2021 at 18:43
  • Yes but @torahmike, as I pointed out in the other two sources I brought, the second half of the mishnah switches to referencing only the Jews whereas the first part is on the whole of mankind.
    – Dov
    Oct 11, 2021 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


In the Yachin UVoaz commentary it writes:

שאמר הקב"ה כן לנח, וגלה לו יקרת האדם, וזה מעיד על גודל החבה, עד שמודיעו שמחבבו כל כך, [משא"כ הנך קראי דבראשית שנאמר נעשה אדם בצלמינו וכו', כי בצלם אלדים עשה וכו'. אמר הקב"ה כו' שלא בפני שום אדם]. וכוונת התנא, דמשום כך יראה האדם להיטיב לכל, אפילו למי שאינו בן ברית, וכ"ש שלא יגרום לו נזק לגופו ממונו וכבודו, ולא יבזהו להלבין צלם אלהים המציץ מפניו:

This is what Hashem said to Noach, and He revealed to him (Noach) the preciousness of man, and this bears witness to Hashem's great love so that the extent of this affection become known. (And doesn't use the verse from Bereishis, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...Because in the image of G-d He made etc." because it wasn't in front of anyone (i.e. any human). Here the intention of the Tanna is so that Man will show good to all, even to those who are not members of the covenant, and all the more so those who don't cause pain to his body, wealth and honour, and he won't disgrace or embarrass the image of G-d appearing before him.

So in other words, it was appropriate to use a later quote as there were now people populating the world whereas if taken from Bereishis it might only be viewed specifically within the context of Hashem speaking (as it were) just to Himself, or to His angels. The verse in Noach is showing Hashem's great love for Humanity. Rabbi Akiva is making a point to underscore the true appreciation one needs to have for all mankind and to resultantly treat everyone with respect.

Indeed, Avigdor Shinan explains that the first part of this Mishna is addressing all of mankind and only then (after the quote brought from parshas Noach) does it detail the requirements of the Jewish nation.

This point is reinforced by Tosafos Yom Tov who writes expressly:

ובכל אדם אמר ר"ע. וכמו שהוא הראיה שממנו הביא שהוא נאמר לבני נח לא לבני ישראל לבדם ורצה ר"ע לזכות את כל אדם אף לבני נח

Rabbi Akiva was speaking of all men, as the verse he quotes for proof was said to all the sons of Noach, and not only to the sons of Israel. Rabbi Akiva wished to find merit for all men, including the Bnei Noach (Noahides).

  • 2
    I think when Yachin UVoaz says "אמר הקב"ה כו' שלא בפני שום אדם" ("because it wasn't in front of anyone"), he means that Hashem didn't say it to any human (not even to Adam, who hadn't been created yet when He said this), as opposed to the later verse, where He said it to Noach. I understand him as saying that by Hashem actually saying so to a human (rather than just to Himself, or to His angels), He is showing great love to Humanity.
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 8, 2021 at 10:44
  • Thanks...I don't understand why the fact it wasn't said in front of people makes a it less of a proof to Rabbi Akiva's point....also, I see you added your own twist on the Yachin U'Boaz (that Bereishis might have been understood to referring to only Jews) and I don't understand how you got that from his words.
    – torahmike
    Oct 8, 2021 at 10:46
  • 2
    @torahmike The mishnah says "חבה יתרה נודעת לו שנברא בצלם"("Especially beloved is he for it was made known to him that he had been created in the image [of God]"). If Hashem didn't say so to any human (as in the earlier verse), how was it made known to him that he had been created in the image of God, for him to be especially beloved?
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 8, 2021 at 11:13
  • @TamirEvan Good point , maybe that's why he chose that pasuk
    – torahmike
    Oct 8, 2021 at 11:16
  • 1
    @Dov I just saw it. Thanks. I already voted-up your answer, as the Yachin UVoaz quote (with the translation, even as it was) went quite far towards answering the question, in my book.
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 8, 2021 at 11:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .