(Torah Portion Noach) A Bunch of Babble
Although the Torah records the incident of the Tower of Bavel, it does not explicitly state what the people were trying to accomplish.
Our Sages tell us that either they were setting out to build towers to support the heavens in order to prevent another flood from occurring, or they were building a Tower to the heavens in order to wage war against the Almighty. Both opinions agree that their efforts were to negate the Supreme power of the Almighty.
The Tower of Bavel occurred in the year 1996 after creation – 340 years after the great flood. Our forefather Avraham was 48 years old at the time.
What led the people to try to do something so absurd?
When the Torah introduces the event of the Tower of Bavel it states: “All people spoke one language.”
The Talmud explains that all people spoke Lashon Hakodesh – Hebrew, or possibly all seventy languages were already in use, however Hebrew was universally understood.
Incidentally, the Gematria – numerical value of the words the Torah uses to describe that they had a common language, Safah Achas – is the same as, Lashon Hakodesh – the holy language – Hebrew!
How did speaking or understanding a universal language lead them to build the Tower of Bavel?
Rabbi Shimon Schwab o.b.m. explains: When everyone spoke the same language they experienced the greatest unity civilization ever realized.
Although unity is a goal that we all aspire to achieve, however, when unity is misplaced and misdirected, it can prove disastrous.
The first king ever to exist was a powerful man by the name of Nimrod. Nimrod capitalized on this unity and declared that they build and develop a single city where they would all settle and build the rebellious Tower(s).
This unique unity led them to believe that they could take on any project, since they were one and had a unified spirit. Nimrod’s proposal appealed to them and they no longer felt the need of G-d and His assistance.
Our Sages tell us that the parcel of land Nimrod chose for this world community was in a valley in a place called Shinor where all the corpses of the great flood of Noach wound up. Nimrod specifically used this area as a foundation for the tower whose purpose was to humanly prevent another flood from occurring.
To stop the process of the tower, the Almighty simply changed their language. They no longer had the ability to understand each other, work together, or participate in a common goal. They quickly dispersed causing the construction to come to an abrupt halt.
Rashi tells us when a worker asked for cement in his language, the other worker thought he meant something else. The misunderstandings caused arguments and they began to kill each other.
With their dispersion, pockets of families and communities that could communicate with each other were formed. Society could no longer use their togetherness to take on a project of rebellion of such proportions.
The people were now imbued with a sense of humility, which enabled them to open up to the Monotheistic ideology that our forefather Avraham taught and spread to the entire world. Until this day we benefit and are inspired from these teachings.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks