Parshas Noach - The Tower Of Peace

By BJLife/Rabbi Moshe Pruzansky

Posted on 10/07/21

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
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In this week’s parsha, we learn in detail about the mabul that Hashem brought to destroy the entire planet, other than those saved on the teivah, due to mankind’s grievous aveiros.

Towards the end of our parsha, the Torah tells us about another disappointing occurrence in mankind's history - Migdal Bavel, The Tower of Bavel (11:1-9). After the devastating destruction of the mabul, the nations of the world recognized that Hashem was in full-control. They also understood that He rewards those who do good and, as the mabul clearly demonstrated, will punish those who do bad. They began to fear that if they sinned, they too would suffer the same fate. In an attempt to break free from Hashem's control, the leaders of the nations devised a “sophisticated” plan: let us build a very tall tower that will reach Heaven and utilize it to wage war against Hashem Himself. Can you imagine the sheer chutzpah that such a plan demonstrated?

Strangely, Hashem showed them mercy and only openly intervened by changing their language, causing them to misunderstand each other, and thus bringing an end to their wicked plans (but He did not openly destroy them).

What were these people thinking?? If the nations recognized that Hashem is real and Almighty, how could they even fantasize about the idea of actually fighting Him - and by building a tall tower no less! Were they out of their minds?!

Furthermore, if the just punishment for stealing and fighting between man and his neighbor was to literally wipe out every aspect of creation through the mabul, shouldn't an attempt to openly and directly fight Hashem Himself have had at least a similar, if not far more severe punishment? Why didn’t Hashem openly punish those who participated in building the Migdal Bavel, like He did to those who were punished through the mabul? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

There were 3 Jews who lived, along with their perspective families, within a small apartment building in Eretz Yisroel. Each had a rear patio, each directly above the other; one on the first floor, the second on the second floor and the third on the third floor. While these 3 Jews were somewhat acquainted with each other, other than a cordial greeting, they did not have much to do with each other.

After a sudden rash of robberies in the neighborhood, the first Jew decided to install a heavy-duty metal fence, from floor to ceiling, that completely blocked entry to his entire back patio - thus protecting himself from robberies. Shortly after the installation, however, the third Jew saw that the second Jew was furious by the new installation. The second Jew explained that this new security fence now made it easy for a potential burglar to simply climb up the fence and easily access and break into his home on the second floor, which was previously inaccessible. He demanded the first Jew remove his security fence, but he flatly refused.

The third Jew, the least religious of the group and a man known to be far from meritorious, had but one virtuous character trait: he was a staunch supporter of peace. When he saw that a full-out feud between the two families was sure to erupt, he decided to fully sponsor, at his own expense, a similar patio fence for the second Jew, thereby successfully brokering peace - but at the same time endangering his own patio and home to theft. Doing so accomplished the desired effect; there was now complete peace between the first two families and things went back to normal.

Many months later, the third Jew and his wife decided to go on an outing and hired a babysitter to watch their children. As they were returning home, they were greeted by the horrible scene of flashing lights, sirens, and powerful flames consuming the bottom floor of their apartment building. They were panic stricken, as their children were still inside. Due to the flames, it was apparently impossible for anyone trapped inside to exit and for even firefighters to rescue those trapped inside, as the only firetruck in the area that was equipped with a ladder was too far out to make it in time. Nobody knew what to do. Luckily though, firefighters soon discovered and were easily able to scale the newly installed security fence by the first and second floor patios, and were able to enter the third floor and rescue the third Jew’s entire family and all of the other victims trapped within the building!

Clearly, although the third Jew did not have many merits to save his family or neighbors, his act of pursuing peace was all that he required.

(True story, related on Aish.com)

Rashi (11:9) explains that the Torah is teaching us just how important peace with one’s fellow-man is to Hashem, and how much He hates when we fight. After such severe infighting between Mankind which warranted the destruction of the planet via the mabul, Man finally united, albeit to do something terrible. Since the builders of Migdal Bavel worked together with tremendous harmony and unity to build the tower, Hashem had tremendous mercy on them.

With this, we can answer our first question. The nations were a lot wiser than we think and were far from foolish. They understood that Hashem values harmony amongst ourselves SO greatly, that He invested an almost limitless power into any action that is done with the unity of a multitude of people. These nations understood that if all of mankind decided in harmony on a single idea, Hashem would truly grant them their wish. In fact, R’ Moshe Shapiro points out that this is illustrated explicitly in our very parshah. When Hashem saw that mankind united to build the tower, He stated "Behold, they are one people with one common language...and now, it will not be withheld from them" (11:6). The tower was intended to merely be a catalyst to unite everyone with the single goal of making Hashem no longer involved in their day to day lives. R' Moshe Shapiro explains that in truth, had all of mankind succeeded in focusing on this one thought, Hashem would have consented to their wishes! It is for this reason that Hashem decided then and there to disperse the nations by changing their language & culture, so that mankind could never achieve a level of absolute global unity ever again, for that enormous power of unity would be dangerous if it would ever be used for the wrong reasons. Indeed, few things are more powerful than unity.

Living Inspired

The Torah is not a history book. Everything written in it is intended to teach us something.

The reason why Hashem tells us about the story of Migdal Bavel and His reaction to it, is clearly to teach us all a vital lesson: Hashem invested incredible power into things done in unity and there are few things that Hashem values more than when mankind maintains camaraderie with each other. If this concept is true when it comes to harmony between rashayim, how much more so does Hashem value peace and unity between his special children, Klal Yisroel?

Whenever there is a gathering to say tehillim for someone, or for an asifah (gathering) of yidden for a cause approved by our Gedolim, or if there is a group learning Torah together, etc. - push yourself to join! Few things can be more powerful than a fully united group of yidden.

Furthermore, let us all make an extra effort to erase any divide that exists between us, by limiting our Lashon Harah as well as the practice of looking down at others. For, as the Chofetz Chaim writes, Sinas Chinum (baseless hatred) is what brought our current exile and, therefore, the moment we cease from such behavior moshiach will immediately follow. Indeed, we can now understand one of the reasons why: there is nothing more powerful than unity between us.

Gut Shabbos