Why, the rabbis ask, was a single human being – Adam – created while all other animals were created in their multitudes?
One answer, made famous by Schindler’s List, clearly establishes the importance of each human being, no matter who he or she is. We were created as a single human, to remind us that if one saves a single human life it is as if one has saved the entire world. To the author of this statement, each of us represents a whole world of potential, both within ourselves and within our potential descendants. Therefore, each of us is important and unique. The Talmud also adds the converse of this statement, reminding us that “if we kill a single human being it is as if we are destroying the entire world.” Each of us has an almost universal importance and potential. There are things that only we can accomplish, and each of us can be a parent to an “entire world” of future human beings, all of whom may have great things to contribute to humanity and the world. Therefore, we have an obligation to respect and see worth within each human being.
This uniqueness of each human is also stressed in a rabbinic parable interpreting the concept of creation in the image of God.
The greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, is thus demonstrated. For, when a man mints coins from one die, each one is the same as the rest. But, when the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, coined each person with the die of Adam, each one is different. (Bereshit Rabba 24:7)
Each human being is unique, yet each of us is also created in the image of God.
The text from the Talmud adds an additional explanation for the creation of a single human, which stresses even more explicitly the necessity, stemming from creation, of accepting and embracing diversity, “Humanity was created alone for the sake of peace. So that one person would not say to another, my parent was greater than your parent.” In this text the Talmud explicitly rejects any view of superiority between the peoples of the world.
Rosh Hashanah is about celebrating creation, and creation is best expressed through the diversity of wonders – including each human being – that we see where ever we look.