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What does it mean that we are commanded to "imitate" G-d?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

A. G-d connects with us by making things happen to us—He answers our prayers. Sometimes, these things seem good. Sometimes, these things seem bad. But on a higher level, they’re all good. So, since everything that happens is caused by G-d, and everything that happens is ultimately good, it follows that G-d is... good.

B. Since everything G-d does is ultimately good, words that describe good things may be used to describe Him, as they are indeed used in the Torah and Tefillah.

C. G-d may thus be said to be merciful, kind, just, pious, and of course, good.

Can I be like G-d, too?

1. Yes, you too, can be like G-d

Being like G-d doesn’t mean you’ll be able to fly or get some handy super-powers. Being like G-d just means to use your mind to adopt an eternally consistent approach to life that stands strong no matter which way the winds blow, or what your emotions tell you. This means when someone is in need of kindness, you act kindly. When someone requires discipline, you act severely. And you never contradict yourself by being kind to one person who needs it, but not to the next guy who needs it just the same. You deliver. You don’t change your approach. Just like G-d—He’s always the same, too.

Being like G-d doesn’t mean you’ll be able to fly or get some handy super-powers... This means when someone is in need of kindness, you act kindly...
2. Do what He does

Consider: G-d is “kind,” and all of the time, so to be like G-d, you would have to be kind to everyone, all the time, too. G-d is “merciful,” so, to be like G-d, be merciful, too. And “just,” which means to be fair, calm, open-minded and objective. And don’t forget “pious,” which means to be unerringly meticulous and careful in your daily interactions with your fellow humans, ensuring that you’re nice and friendly and helpful and all to everyone at all times. As the well-known saying goes, “To err is human; to forgive is Divine.” Being pious means being inflexible in a good way—you’re inflexibly forgiving, tolerant, and all the things listed above.

3. Why should I?

Well, it’s a Mitzvah. It says in the Torah (Deuteronomy 11:22 and 28:9), “...and walk in His paths,” which Maimonides explains to mean to do what He does. See above.


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