A Tower to Worship G-d: A Torah Thought for Parashat Noach by Moshe Feiglin
The Torah portion describing Creation is behind us and now, before we delve into the roots of the Nation of Israel, the Torah’s second portion – Noach – describes the beginnings of humanity at large. One point that is obvious in this Torah portion is that since its inception, the human race has been searching for its place in the world.
And they found a valley in the land of Shinar and they settled there. (Genesis 11:2)
The historical pendulum that for generations had swung back and forth between various ideas and ideologies finally found itself on solid ground in the Shinar valley. Now humanity could free itself of its wars and focus on personal empowerment.
And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. (Genesis 11:3)
Technology advances at a dizzying pace and changes cultures. Almost every child today has a cell phone. Once, parents taught their children how to send a letter. Today, children teach their parents how to communicate on social media.
But, by nature, technological progress distances man from Creation. When brick replaces stones and when the raw materials are also manufactured by man, the Creator seems to disappear. Eggs grow in the supermarket, meat comes from the freezer and man basically re-invents himself as king of all creation.
And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ (Genesis 11:4)
In truth, the city and the tower with its top in heaven does not exist in the valley of material stability, but rather, in Jerusalem – on the Temple Mount – the place that uproots the heart of man from his obsession with material and materialism. Isaiah promises that at the end of days, the mountain of G-d’s House will be established at the top of the mountains. But the people who decided to replace G-d built their temple of “me” deep in the mud.
And G-d scattered them from there upon the face of the earth; and they ceased to build the city.
The world is one big train station. We have Chinatown in Manhattan, Spanish in Florida, Arabic in London and Turkish in Germany. After the USSR collapsed, the Twin Towers came down as well, proving that history did not end, but simply turned the page – with G-d looking on, completely in the picture.
The universal desire for unity will ultimately be realized, because the Nation of Israel will build a city with a tower, with its top in heaven. But it will be a tower to worship G-d, not man.
And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of G-d, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
Image courtesy of The Temple Institute