Rosh Hodesh Heshvan
October 24, 2014 – 1 Heshvan 5775
The story of the flood is not the only story in our weekly Torah portion of Noah. We also read about the world as it began to develop after the flood. And, our parsha includes one of the most interesting stories in the Bible – the story of the Tower of Babel. This is a story of a generation of people who began life anew after the flood, by setting out to build a tower by means of enforced uniformity.
We often assume that when God intervened to create “communication chaos” among the people who had set out to build a tower and to create a uniform language, ostensibly for greater cooperation, that God was punishing the builders of the Tower of Babel. But, wasn’t it specifically reported as a blessing when God first created human beings and said to them: “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it…” (Genesis 1:28)?!
It seems that God’s plan for humanity, from the outset, was that we spread out and “fill the earth.”
And so, perhaps causing the builders of the Tower to scatter over the face of the earth was not a punishment at all. Perhaps it was simply a way of setting humanity back on course; a way of allowing us to speak different languages, to think differently from one another and to develop the human potential more fully, as only a world which enables diversity to thrive is able to accomplish.
Certainly, when we delimit ourselves and require uniformity, we can define our goals and quantify and measure our successes more readily. But, the Torah reminds us that in order to maximize the potential and the creativity of the human spirit, we must allow for diversity and then work to overcome the difficulties associated with it. Sometimes, the Torah reminds us, a challenge is really a blessing!
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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