19 Oct Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Noach/Shabbat Rosh Chodesh October 20, 2017
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Noach which actually contains two famous stories in our tradition. After the Torah tells us of how Noach and his family successfully survived the flood and then lists the children born to each of Noach’s three sons, we are gifted with the story of the Tower of Babel, how once upon a time the people all spoke one language and gathered together to try and build a city with a tower that reached up into the sky. As a child, I always remember learning that they were trying to reach God, but a closer look at the text reveals that what the people were actually trying to do was establish power for themselves through their desire to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4) with this incredibly tall structure. In our modern society, this week most especially as our federal government remains shut down, we should remember the Torah’s lesson that when we try to build towers too high for the wrong reasons, we end up speaking different languages and never being able to communicate. Sometimes, it’s better to have a little less power and a little less name recognition for the sake of creating a society that is able to function as it should and one where its leaders are able to communicate by speaking the same language.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik