Sunday, October 25, 2009

Answers to Bonus Noach Quiz

Congratulations to those who knew the right answers. The erudition of my readership is quite impressive.
There are many different answers, so I'll share a few and how the Rebbe explains things as well.
The question was:
What did the people who built the Tower Of Babel do so wrong that they were punished in such a huge way?

  • Rashi brings two reasons: They made the tower to fight with Hashem/ And he brings a medrash that says they were afraid that since the flood took place in the year 1656, perhaps this was part of a natural cycle, and in 1656 years, the sky would fall apart again! Therefore they wanted to build four huge support towers to hold up the sky from falling again. They only managed to build the first one before Hashem stopped their silly plans.
(About this opinion from the medrash, I learned that this fits in with how the possuk says their reason was "To make for ourselves a name". They wanted to be remembered as the greatest humanitarians and scientists. They were so concerned with natural disasters (and climate change...) that they put all their efforts and time into saving the environment and world. This would surely cause their names to be remembered and lauded for all time. Especially considering how selfless they were, caring about generations thousands of years later, when it had no immediate effect on their own generation.)
  • Another opinion of the medrash is that "To make for ourselves a name" means Avoda Zara.
(In the famous ma'amer "Vayadata Moskow" (which it's said about this ma'amer that anyone who doesn't learn it is an apikores. Meaning that only through learning this ma'amer can you understand how Hashem creates the world, and through which levels, and what levels of G-dliness are here...), the Rebbe Rashab explains that "V'Na'aseh Lanu Shem" meant they thought there was a difference between the name Yud Key Vov Key, and Elokim. They thought Hashem chas v'shalom left this world to be run by nature, which fits with the medrash saying it was Avoda Zara...)
  • The Rebbe explains that the main problem with what they did was when they did it. What they did was simply all get together and have a grand plan for something meaningless and arrogant. The problem was that this was after the Flood wiped everyone off the face of the Earth!
This was supposed to be a sobering lesson for the survivors. Their purposes in life should have been more meaningful in order to make sure what happened to their predecessors would not happen to them. Instead, they tried being remembered in history as having built the biggest tower, and lived in the biggest city.

I really don't have time now to explain the rest of the sicha, but basically the Rebbe says that the way to eternalize your name is to be involved with Kedusha which is eternal. Building Holy towers and cities, which are the shuls and yeshivas of a community, is what brings you fame and what eternalizes your name, if that is what you are looking for. The biggest reward, of course, is your dedication to G-d's desires.

We, the generation after the Flood of the Holocaust, are the survivors, and we must dedicate and devote ourselves to sanctifying G-d's holy Name, and living purposeful and meaningful lives, not lives devoid of meaning.