Some great quotes: “And from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the entire Earth.” (Gen. 11:8). What was the sin of the Tower of Babel, and why was it necessary to scatter them and create many languages? Are not geographical distance and the differences of language and culture the primary bases of misunderstanding and fear of the other? What did this people do to deserve that their unity be shattered and that this terrible curse be brought to the world?
While many explanations have been offered to explain this sin, the simple sense of the verse indicates that their very sin was that of unity, of being one. Immediately upon Noah’s exiting the ark, God had declared: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth.” (Gen 9:1), while those who built the Tower said: “Come…and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4, and see Rashbam there). When God looked at what they had done, God saw not only one language but also that “behold, the people are one.” It was this unity, the fact of having one language, being one people, and wanting to stay that way, which was their sin. After their punishment, the fulfillment of God’s blessing to “fill the Earth,” was realized, and the peoples were “divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (Gen 10:5; and see verses 21, 31-32).
Sadly, there are many today who reject this approach, and who would like to believe that all Jews do or should look alike – white and Ashkenazi – and that all Jews should think and act in exactly the same way. Sometimes this desire expresses itself in a demand for a centralized rabbinic authority, one that would define one standard for all Jews, and reject any differences of practice or opinion. This is happening more and more in recent years with the Israeli Rabbinate, and has had a tragic impact on so many Jews, and also on so many prospective Jews – prospective converts whose very difference could so benefit the Jewish people.
Okay and did anyone else read this line and think “WE ARE BORG!” and “Resistance is futile!”: “Certainly there is a danger when unity becomes uniformity, when dissenting voices are silenced, and when everyone’s thoughts, words and actions are molded by a groupthink mentality.”