October 19, 2023 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5784 • Parshat Noach
Issue 791
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Instead of obeying G‑d’s command to disperse and populate the world, the survivors of the Flood congregated under the leadership of Ham’s great-grandson Nimrod.

Nimrod convinced them that in order to prevent another Flood, they should build an enormous tower so they could take measures to control the rainfall, if necessary.

In order to teach them that unity serves no purpose if it leads to rebellion against Him, G‑d made each clan suddenly speak its own language; thus humanity dispersed from the Tower of Babel, in accordance with G‑d’s original intentions.

The Purpose of Civilization

They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower.” 

Genesis 11:4

The survivors of the Flood overlooked the Flood’s lesson that we should look to G‑d as the source of our well-being.

We, the survivors of a “flood” that killed 6,000,000 Jews, should learn from the mistake of the survivors of Noah’s Flood. Rebuilding the infrastructure of Jewish civilization is praiseworthy and noble, but it is not an end in itself.

Our “city and tower” must possess a deeper, spiritual purpose, which means that our houses of prayer and Torah study should be the most prominent and cherished buildings in our cities.

Similarly, our careers, homes, lives, and families should express our desire to fulfill G‑d’s will rather than just empty self-pride. Their Jewish trappings – mezuzot, tefilin, Shabbat candles, etc. – should be of the highest ritual quality; our collection of Torah books should be well-stocked, prominently displayed, and well-read; the music and conversation heard within our homes should befit a Jewish home; and so on.

--Daily Wisdom1