Monday, October 11, 2010

Noach: Babel and Totalitarianism

Despite being only 9 verses long, the story of the Tower of Babel plays a significant role in reflecting the dangers inherent in building human societies.

Using the Netziv, Jonathan Sacks, Isaiah Berlin and Malcolm Gladwell as guides, we discussed whether the builders of the tower actually do anything wrong, whether God's actions in dispersing them are proportionate and what the story can teach us about two key issues of the 21st century - ensuing the proper balance between the individual and the collective; and safely moving between the competing poles of tribalism and universalism.

A variety of sources suggest that the problem with the Tower was not its rebellion against God but rather the uniformity of the society, and the problematic nature that such uniformity produces (whether that be murder of those who are different or simply the stultifying of the creative energy found in diversity).

Click here for the source sheet. Click here for the audio recording.

(Click here for the full video of Malcolm Gladwell discussing spaghetti source and how diversity is connected to happiness)

1 comment:

Benedict said...

Really interesting ideas . . . . . quoted also by Yeshayahu Leibowitz . . . . of course the sequel to the fall of the Tower and the imposition of pluralism is the birth of Avraham, who represents diversity, revolt against the accepted wisdom of the time, and the attempt of good to engage with evil.