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Dvar Torah - Noach

People often say that communication is critical. For us to accomplish our goals, we must continually engage in clear and timely communication with other people. This applies to people who rely on us, those who work with us, and those who depend on us.

However, we only sometimes think about how our communications affect the moral character of the final product. Good, clear, and above all, ethical communication is not necessary merely for a project to succeed. It is a crucial part of making a project worth the effort in the first place. The importance of moral communication is a central motif of the story of the tower of Babel. In the story, the people set up to build a tower to Heaven to make a name for themselves. They could undertake such an ambitious task because they all spoke the same language (literally), so communication was easy. However, in the process, they forgot about the worth of every individual. They were willing to sacrifice any individual necessary to reach their goal. Our rabbis tell us that this extended even to allowing people to fall willy-nilly from the top of the construction. Even though communication was of high quality and each person present knew what was happening, they needed to acknowledge the importance of each person attending. Ironically, it was by disrupting communications (and muddling languages) so that the builders could no longer understand each other that Hashem helped the people of Babel recognise their mistake. By creating a situation that most people could no longer understand each other, He taught them all a lesson about the importance of the individual. Sometimes we only recognise how vital a part or a person is when they don't fit as well into the giant schematic we carry in our minds. We have grown to love and appreciate the depths of our cultural and linguistic diversity in our modern world. Let's always remember that the wealth of human experience which touches us and enriches us every day is the natural result of millions of unique individuals speaking different languages from different backgrounds. If we manage to keep this important fact in mind, we will fix our ancestors' fatal flaw in the tower.

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