I've gotten the advice to ask this question apart from another question i asked (Elohim plural singular): so here it is

Bereshit 5:1 reads according to my own words: 'In/On the day that Elohim created the human being (Adam), in the Demut of Elohim He made him (the human being), male (masculine) and female (feminine) He created them (the male and female) and He blessed them, and called their (the male and female human beings) name Human (Adam)'.

Bereshit 1:27 also reads: 'And Elohim created the human being (Adam) in His Tzelem, Elohim created him (the human) male (masculine) and female (feminine) He created them'.

Question: How could one human being be made made male and female or masculine and feminine, and how does that image fit to the Tzelem and Demut of Elohim?

  • May I suggest you learn the Chumash with Rashi. He answers all the questions you've asked so far. Mar 1 '15 at 11:51
  • 1
    @DannySchoemann Ya, but then the OP wouldn't get to glimpse the full gamut of Jewish thought on the matter. By asking here hopefully he'll get various answers.
    – Double AA
    Mar 1 '15 at 15:56
  • Indeed, thats what i had in mind
    – J.Levi
    Mar 4 '15 at 10:14

The original creation, being one human being, contained both male and female elements. Note that when God created Chava He didn't start over with clay; He took part of Adam as a starting point. The "creation" of Chava was more like a separation of Adam into two parts, male and female.

God does not have a physical form so "in his image" (and "likeness") cannot refer to physical aspects. These concepts refer to spiritual aspects. Rashi says that "in his image" (or "form") actually refers to the process, not the result -- God used a mold or die to make Adam. (See below.) Even if we don't accept that, though, whatever it is, it isn't a physical comparison of God and Adam.

Male and female

Rashi explains that Adam had both male and female aspects in one body and were later separated:

male and female He created them: Yet further (2:21) Scripture states: “And He took one of his ribs, etc.” The Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 8:1, Ber. 61a, Eruvin 18a) explains that He originally created him with two faces, and afterwards, He divided him. [...] [from Baraitha of the Thirty Two Methods , Method 13]

Image and form

Rashi understands ("in Our image") as "with Our mold/form/die" and kidmuteinu ("as Our likeness") as referring to understanding and wisdom:

in our image: in our form. (Saperstein translation says "mold")
after our likeness: to understand and to discern.

And God created man in His image: [...] Man was made with a die, like a coin, which is made by means of a die, which is called coin in Old French. And so Scripture states (Job 38:14): “The die changes like clay.” - [from Letters of Rabbi Akiva , second version; Mid. Ps. 139:5; Sanh. 38a]

The commentary in the Saperstein edition/translation of Rashi adds:

According to Maskil LeDavid, Rashi speaks of a "mold" here rather than the "form" of God because he sees b'tzalmeinu, with the "bet" ("in" or "with") prefix, as a contrast to kidmuteinu, with the "kaf" ("like" or "as") prefix. Had the verse here meant that man was to be created in God's form, it would have used k'tzalmeinu, "like Our form". The "bet" is to be understood here in its sense of "with, by means of" -- let us create man with our mold.

  • Isn't it so that exept for the biological gender (genitials) things aren't masculine of feminine? But that it is because of us human beings that things are rendered masculine or feminine, in our speaking for example. I wonder what G-d ment by male and female?
    – J.Levi
    Mar 4 '15 at 8:43

Tzelem and Demus cannot refer to a physical description of the being known as Adam. That is since Hashem is not in any way physical, the "likeness" means that Adam was created with the possibility of free will and with a spiritual dimension. Thus, the physical appearance does not matter in that respect. The being known as Adam was created as a "unity" with both male and female aspects in order to teach "him" that it was not possible (within this world) to live "alone". That is why he was initially created alone and the "split" into Adam and Chava.

Additionally, Hashem did not create a man and a woman seperately in order to teach the lesson that "all men are created equal". One must learn this lesson that we are all (men and women) from the same unique creation.

For example:

Men & Women: Jewish View of Gender Differences

To get a clear picture of the Jewish view of womanhood, we must go back to the beginning – the Torah.

In the first chapter of Genesis, the Torah chooses to refer to Adam in the plural: God created the man in His image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. And God blessed them. (Genesis 1:27-28)

Why "them"? This was before the creation of Eve!

The Jewish Oral Tradition provides us with a fascinating insight into this grammatical oddity. The first human, it tells us, was really an androgynous being, both male and female in one body, sophisticated and self-sufficient.

But if God had created such a complete human being, why the later separation into two parts, into Adam and Eve? As God is the source of everything, self-sufficiency would be a spiritual defeat. The answer given is that God did not want this first human creation to be alone, for it would then possess an illusion of self-sufficiency. Note that there is no word for "independence" in classical Hebrew. (What we use now, atzma'ut, is of modern vintage.) The concept of independence doesn't exist in Jewish tradition. Aside from God, nothing and no one is really independent. Since we are supposed to ingrain into ourselves that God is the source of everything, self-sufficiency would have been a spiritual defeat. God wanted to fashion the human being into two separate people in order to create a healthy situation of dependence, yearning, and mutual giving. Human beings are not meant to be alone because then they would have no one to give to, no one to grow with, and nothing to strive for. To actualize oneself spiritually, a human being cannot be alone.

Why Not Identical Twins?

But why, then, didn't God create two identical beings? The answer is that in order to maximize giving, the recipient must be different from the giver. If the two are identical, giving can occur, but it is limited. One would give based on his or her own needs, since the receiver would have the exact same needs. To truly be a giver, the person must take into account what the receiver needs and not only what the giver wants. By giving to someone with different needs, a person is trained to think and give on terms other than his or her own.

We see, then, that the separation had to be into two different beings, in order for us to learn to appreciate, love, give, and care for those unlike ourselves. This is fundamental to all moral and spiritual growth. We can also understand why God didn't just create two beings from the start: by starting as one, we can know and feel that our life partners are our true complement, that we need them and their differences just as they need us and ours.

Gender Differences

The Torah is a path to self-actualization, to spiritual growth. We have seen that in order to grow, a person cannot be alone. Therefore two beings were created. To maximize growth, the beings need to be different, and so men and women were created as different beings.


May I Quote:

We know from texts like the hymn Yigdal , which reflects the great Maimonides’ theological teachings, that G-d has no body. This prayer states, “He has no bodily form.” If G-d does not have a body, then G-d cannot have a sex. Sex is a physical attribute; it comprises biological categories like male and female. Gender, however, is a social construct that consists of the characteristics, expectations, assumptions and cultural meanings associated with sex. Gender and sex don’t always line up; sometimes men are “feminine” and sometimes women are “masculine” (as having masculine and feminine qualities). Because gender is not the same thing as sex, it might be possible for G-d to have a gender, even though G-d does not have a sex. In our tradition, G-d demonstrates characteristics of more than one gender (kind of like the human being G-d created in Genesis 1:27, which according to a literal reading was both male and female). Sometimes G-d is described as, “King of glory, mighty in battle” (Psalms 24:8) and other times G-d is depicted as a compassionate Source of life. If asked to identify these descriptions of G-d with a gender, most people would probably consider the former description masculine and the latter depiction as feminine.Some people feel threatened by feminine depictions of G-d, believing that they diminish the awesome, powerful and fear-inspiring aspects of G-d.

Rabbi Paula Reimers notes that using masculine language for G-d not only reinforced the concept of G-d’s power, but also helped prevent the, “introduction of alien theological ideas [such as pagan goddesses] into the heart of monotheistic religion.” Now that Judaism is firmly established, we no longer need to be concerned about our religion dissolving into paganism. Feminine imagery of G-d does not in any way threaten Judaism. On the contrary, it enhances the Jewish understanding of G-d, which should not be limited to masculine metaphors.

All language that humans use to describe G-d is only a metaphor. Using masculine and feminine metaphors for G-d is one way to remind ourselves that gendered descriptions of G-d are just metaphors. G-d is beyond gender.

If so: what did G-d ment by male and female?

Tzelem and Demus cannot refer to a physical description of the being known as Adam. That is since Hashem is not in any way physical, the "likeness". So the male and female making of the human being refer to spiritual part of the human being that contains characteristics, elements, qualities etc that can be defined masculine, feminine, neuter or both. Am I correct?

  • No you may not quote, unless you indicate where you are quoting from.
    – Double AA
    Mar 4 '15 at 15:32

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