January 28, 2023 |

The Sin of Babel

[And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

And they said, "Come, let us build us a city and a tower…and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."]

i
First they wished to make bricks. Then they wished to make a city. Then they gave the reason for their city: that they be held together.

So the bricks and the mortar were the driving force of their union. Togetherness was nearly an afterthought.

ii
God punished them by pulling them apart, confusing their language and confusing their words.

*
Speech is unlike the strength of bricks, or the strength of mortar, or the strength of their hands that made the bricks and the mortar.

Speech is a strength of God, Who created the world by saying Let there be.

Speech is the strength that lets people cleave to one another.

*
The people of Babel did not know that the strength of bricks flows from speech, from words. God showed them otherwise.

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Abe Mezrich

Joined: October 11, 2007

Abe Mezrich is a new-York based writer and lecturer, and the author of a weekly dvar Torah. Contact him at amezrich@gmail.com.

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