What was the common language that the whole world spoke?


Rashi and Targum Yonasan: It was Lashon ha'Kodesh. 1


Refer to 2:23:2:1. See also Ba'al ha'Turim.


Rashi writes: "One language - Lashon ha'Kodesh (the Holy Tongue)." How does Rashi know this?


Gur Aryeh: The world was created with Lashon ha'Kodesh (e.g., the etymological connection between" Ishah" (woman) and "Ish" (man)


Moshav Zekenim: But Bereishis 10 says "li'Leshonosam"?! We must say that the various nations had different languages, but all spoke also Lashon ha'Kodesh. Even the animals spoke Lashon ha'Kodesh (Moshav Zekenim to Bereishis 3:4; refer to 3:1:2:3).


What plan did the people hatch? What was the sin of the generation of the Dispersion?


Rashi #1: They asked one another, "What right does HaSh-m have to pick for Himself the Heaven in which to live? Come, let us go and fight Him!"'


Rashi #2 (citing Bereishis Rabah): They said, "Once every 1,656 years the sky shakes (collapses), like it did in the Flood. Come, let us build supports for it."


Rashbam (to 11:4) and Ramban (to 11:2, citing the Ibn Ezra and the Radak) 1 : They sought to all live together in one area, 2 whereas HaSh-m wanted the world's inhabitants to spread out and to fill it.


Seforno: What the leaders of the generation wanted to do was to build a gigantic tower, and then to crown Nimrod king of the world, so that the entire world would look up to him and worship him as god of the world. 3 In fact, it was not what they had done to date that rendered them guilty, but what would have been the end result. 4


Targum Yonasan (to 11:4): They had in mind to build on top of the tower a house of worship and to place a sword there 5 to fight their battles (presumably against HaSh-m), before they were forced to scatter across the face of the earth.


Maharal: Refer to 11:1:2.5:1.


Refer to 1:28:3:2.


They said, "lest we scatter," so HaSh-m scattered them against their will.


A "threat" to the world's eventual recognition of HaSh-m's Omnipotence, a threat that would have been considerably less had every nation been serving its own local god.


Refer to 11:5:1:2.


It is unclear in whose hands they intended to place the sword. In any event, they probably planned to achieve their objective by means of witchcraft.


According to Rashi's first explanation (that they wanted to fight HaSh-m), why were they punished less than the generation of the Flood?


Bereishis Rabah (38): Shalom (peace) is so great, that even if Yisrael serve idolatry, but there is Shalom among them, it is as if HaSh-m cannot punish them. 1


Mishnas R. Aharon (Vol. 1, p. 73): The attribute of connection


Rashi writes: "They said, '... Let us go up to the heavens and wage war against Him!'" Did they really expect to reach the heavens by means of the Tower? And if that was their objective, why didn't they build their tower on a mountain, rather than in a valley?


Gur Aryeh: They did not aim to use the Tower as a means to literally climb up to Heaven. Rather, they wanted "a Tower with its top in Heaven" (11:4); i.e. standing out above the earth, just as the heavens stand apart [and the Tower itself would serve as their "alternative Heaven"]. It was built in order to tap into the upper realms, using methods known to them (metaphysical forces that could manipulate the world). That itself was their "war" against Heaven; they wanted to "break into the system" and counteract certain decrees of HaSh-m. 1


Also refer to 11:1:2.3:1. See also Derech Hashem (Ramchal) 3: 2,7-9; and Da'as Tevunos 38. (EK)


Rashi writes: "'Devarim Achadim (lit. unanimous speech)' - [They spoke] against the Unique One of the world." What does this mean?


Be'er ba'Sadeh: They denied HaSh-m's sole and exclusive control over the world. They thought that the world runs automatically, as guided by the stars and constellations. They hoped to use magic and names of key angels to overcome HaSh-m's decrees.


Rashi writes: "[They said,] '... Let us make supports [for the heavens].'" Why did they make such a mistake?


Gur Aryeh: They thought that the Flood was a natural event in the cycle of the heavens (and not a Divine punishment for their deeds), and they aimed to prevent a recurrence using the metaphysical effect of the Tower. 1


See 11:1:2.2:1. It is clear that according to Gur Aryeh, they did not build the Tower as a physical support pillar.


What is the concept of "one language and unanimous speech"? What was their purpose in building the Tower?


Maharal (Chidushei Agados Vol. #3, p. 259-260, to Sanhedrin 109a): They wanted their unanimity to rival the Unity of HaSh-m, so to speak. In that sense, the tower itself was tantamount to idolatry. Later, they said, "Let us make a name for ourselves" (11:4). Man was created to dwell in the lower realms and be subservient to HaSh-m; but they wished to belong to the upper realms and thus escape HaSh-m's dominion. 1 Refer to 11:4:1.3:1.


Maharal explains in Gevuros Hashem (Ch. 5, p. 35) that when seeming polar opposites in Creation join forces, this attests that they all stem from one Source; to the Unity of their Creator. (e.g. refer to 2:18:2.1:2; ) In this case, by contrast, we understand how their unified effort to separate from HaSh-m was such a significant rebellion.


According to Rashi, that they wanted to fight Hashem, why were they punished less than the generation of the flood?


Bereishis Rabah 38: Shalom is great - even if Yisrael serve idolatry, but there is Shalom among them, it is as if Hashem cannot punish them. 1


Mishnas R. Aharon 1 p.73: The attribute of connection - complete from every side, protects, in spite of the severity of a sin of the Rabim .


רש"י: לשון הקודש: מנין שהכוונה ללשון הקודש?


גור אריה: העולם נברא בלשון הקודש, ואם הארץ הייתה שפה אחת, בודאי היה זה לשון הקודש.


רש"י: נעלה לרקיע וכו': וכי סברו בפועל להגיע לשמים ע"י המגדל? ואם רצו להגיע לשמים, היה להם לבנות את המגדל בהר?


גור אריה: בנו את המגדל בדבקות למערכות העליונות באופן שהיה ידוע להם [ע"י כוחות רוחניים הפועלים בבריאה], ובכך נלחמו בעליונים כי פעלו לבטל דברים הבאים בגזירת ה', וזהו שאמרו שיעלו לרקיע להלחם בו. ולא נזקקו לבנות את המגדל בהר כי לא רצו לעלות לשמים אלא רצו מגדל ש"ראשו בשמים", שיהיה נבדל מהם כשם שהשמים נבדלים, [והמגדל עצמו הוא בבחינת השמים] וזוהי התנגדות לקב"ה כי ראוי לאדם להיות למטה. עיי"ש. 1


באר בשדה: הם סברו שעולם כמנהגו נוהג והכל בא ע"י הכוכבים והמזלות, וסברו שע"י חכמת הכישוף והשבעות בשמות השרים של מעלה יוכלו להתגבר נגד גזירת ה', וזו כוונת רש"י שבאו בדברים "על יחידו של עולם" כביכול אין בכחו לשדד את מערכת המזלות. עיי"ש.


כמדומני שדברי הגור אריה מתבארים על ידי דברי הבאר בשדה (שהבאנו בתשובה השניה). ובביאור הענין, עי' בדרך ה' לרמח"ל, חלק ג, פ"ב, אותיות ז-ט ובדעת תבונות ל"ח ד"ה ואמנם, בענין אמונת היחוד.


רש"י: בואו ונעשה לו סמוכות: למה טעו לחשוב כך?


גור אריה: סברו שהמבול בא לפי סיבוב הגלגל וסברו שיוכלו לשנות זאת בפעולות נוכריות ע"י המגדל. 1


נראה לי לפרש שהם חשבו שהמבול היה תהליך טבעי ולא הנהגה של שכר ועונש, ולכן חשבו שיוכלו לשנות זאת על ידי כוחות רוחניים הפועלים בבריאה, ועי' בשאלה הקודמת.


מה עניין "שפה אחת ודברים אחדים"? ומה הייתה מטרתם בבניית המגדל?


מהר"ל (חידושי אגדות ח"ג עמ' רנט ד"ה לג' כתות, ולהלן עמ' רס ד"ה ויש לך, סנהדרין דף קט.): דור הפלגה חלקו על יחידו של עולם ולכן אמרו 'נהיה כאחד פן נפוץ' ובזה רצו לקחת לעצמם את האחדות הראויה רק לקב"ה, ולכן עשיית המגדל היא עשיית אלוהות, וזהו "ונעשה לנו שם" במקום להתבטל לפני ה'. ולא רצו לעלות בעצמם במגדל, אלא סברו שהאדם חסר מפני שהוא בתחתונים, וכאשר הם עם אחד יש להם התעלות לעליונים ע"י המגדל שראשו בשמים. 1


המהר"ל בגבורות ה' (פ"ה עמ' לה ד"ה ובמדרש) מבאר שאיחוד של נבראים ההפכיים זה לזה מורה שכולם באו משורש אחד- מה' אחד, ולכן מובן שהאיחוד כאן שנעשה בניתוק מאת ה' הוא סתירה ליחוד ה'.

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