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    Man: the summit of creation? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is man the summit of creation?

    A. The sages think so. They put into the mouth of the human being the words, bish’vili nivra ha-olam – “For my sake was the world created” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

    It is not merely that the whole process of creation led up to the creation of man, but, according to Sa’adia Ga’on, man is a superior being with intellectual, moral and spiritual traits and talents which no other species possesses.

    Sa’adia says, “Should anyone imagine that there exists some other being outside of man that is endowed with such superior qualities, then let him show us these qualities or even some of them in some other creature. Such a being, however, he will never discover”.

    Maimonides adds that this does not mean that other parts of creation lack a role and purpose. They serve man, but this is not necessarily their only or major raison d’etre. “They have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of something else.”

    Man must never boast of his greatness: “What are we?” asks the Yom Kippur liturgy; “What is our life, our goodness, our virtue, our strength, our might? Even if man is righteous, what does he give You? Man has no eminence over beast, for all is vanity.”

    Nonetheless, says the liturgy, “From the first You singled out mortal man and deemed him worthy to stand before You”.

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