Sky's the limit?
Technology is apocalyptic.
This is a snag torah remix. I can't even find the original anymore, nor where I stole it from. All I have is the piece I sampled around a year ago, when I was thinking about the tower of Babel, and here it is, mixed into depth.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld explains that the fact that, for the builders of the tower of Babel, the fact that they were using bricks was a tremendous thing in itself. It signified a great technological breakthrough; for the first time ever, people could create their own building materials if none were available.
This led to a general feeling of power and control over their own fate.
The Dor Haflaga (generation of the Tower) were so carried away in this power trip
that they believed they were able to do anything,
including defeating Hashem. Nitzchuni Banai!
Rav Sonnenfeld adds to his point by noting that the second Pasuk in the Perek states that the Dor Haflaga
lived in “a valley in the land of Shinar.”
It seems that if they wanted to build a tower as high as possible
they would have started from a very tall place.
they felt that they should start from a low place in order to accomplish their feat entirely on their own,
without any help.
Had they built on a mountaintop,
they would have been utilizing a “contribution” of height from Hashem
who created the mountain.
Once they had developed such overconfidence, they became wholly dedicated to their cause.
The Brisker Rav notes the extent to which the people became carried away by pointing to the Rashi’s comment that
when the languages were confused
the people still tried to continue building.
However, their confusion led to frustration and eventually murder. The Brisker Rav says that the reason for this is the inherent nature of man’s evil.
Once one has resolved to sin,
nothing will deter him even when his original means fail.
Thus, those involved in the construction
were so set on the completion of their project
that they did not think about abandoning it.
Instead, they acted irrationally and started to kill each other.
(Rabbeinu Heshy Shnitzler once was giving over something very deep, that is already known in the world.
"Why be consistent? Play by different rules, understand and relate to things different all the time. Loose like the Reed, and you can't be knocked down."
This is the level of the criminal Messiah David as opposed to Joseph, the Messiah of consistency and principle, of capital and control. Joseph's investment in grainaries echoes the building of the Tower of Babel, as does the building of bricks echo the harshest demand put on the Hebrew slaves, that they build their own bricks, and do it twice as quick.)
even the murders themselves did not halt their work,
and Hashem had to disperse everyone.
(This is a reference to the only tradition we have to justify G-d's smashing of the Tower of Babel.
That the builders valued bricks above humans,
so much so
that if a brick fell,
people would be terribly distressed,
but people fall all the time, fuck 'em, we've got more.)
This episode shows the spiritual depths to which a person can sink once his mind is made up to sin
and the lack of thought and consideration that is possible when one sins.
This point is also made by R’ Yehonatan Eibeschutz, who asks
how it is possible that these people thought they could reach the heavens?
He answers that
the people expected to build a tower high enough to pass the Earth’s gravity,
making them weightless
and allowing them to fly up
to confront Hashem.
It is amazing that they did not bother to consider important things like the time and effort required to make such a tower, the possibility that they would not be able to survive in space,
or the impossibility involved in defeating an all-powerful being.
The lack of forethought demonstrates that they were so set on rebellion
that they did not consider the outcome.
Similarly, any action that we do can have unexpected consequences.
R Yonasan Eibshutz is not sorry for trying, or hoping. Just try not to be offended by the unexpected?