This week's parsha
Wrong Time for Building Legacies
Reality has just been turned upside down, the waters of the flood have erased all life off the face of the globe, and humanity has to start all over again.
This is not some apocalyptic terror film, but the story of the world after the Great Flood. Noah and his family were the only living people in the world, while every other person who had been living just one year earlier -- including their neighbors, friends, enemies and everyone else -- was gone.
When the flood gates closed, the waters settled, and the people emerged from the floating box, they quickly went ahead to rebuild civilization, having children, building homes, accumulating wealth, and just getting back to routine.
Not too long afterwards, they hit upon a wonderful idea. Why not, they thought, build a huge tower that will reach the sky? After all, we have the technology and the manpower! Let us build a legacy for ourselves! Let the future world know about how awesome we were!
The vote was unanimous to build the tower, and the people of Babel set out to make their dream a reality. Things started out smoothly, and they were making headway, when G‑d decided to put a stop to the project. He mixed up their languages, dispersed them all over the world, and turned some of them into apes (oh, so we are related . . .).
And you ask, what was the big deal? Why did G‑d react so angrily to such a harmless cause? Where did these visionaries go wrong? Could there be something wrong in wanting to build a legacy?
Yes! There was something very wrong.
Think about it, friends. The world had been destroyed, and now the society needed a lot of help. Children needed schools, places of worship needed to be built, traumas had yet to be settled . . . and all these people could think about was their legacy!
Who has time for building legacies when there is a hungry man next door? Was there nothing more important than building a tower, so that four thousand years later, when a scientist would excavate a site somewhere in Mesopotamia and find remains of a big tower, he or she would write in the history books that this was a strong and advanced nation?
How could they think of a legacy for the future, when the present needed so much help? And, for heaven’s sake, if they desperately desired to make a legacy, then at least they should have made something worthwhile! Why not open the world’s first hospital, make a beautiful house of worship, or build a school? Why, oh why, erect a pointless, unneeded tower?
And that question lingers for all time . . .