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Tower of Babel
Video 6 of 6
What I want to suggest is it's not an anti-technology story, rather it's kind of how it is that we work with technology. If we go back to what it is that the people say when they're building the tower, the two declarations. We talked about there being two separate speeches. Speech number one, again; Hava nilbenah leveinim - come, let's make bricks and throw them in the fire. Then they make these bricks. Speech number two is, come let's build a city. So the first thing to keep in mind about this is again, Plan A, is just to make bricks and make bricks because we can. Plan B is to make a city. Why do we make a city? Why are we making the tower? Because we have the bricks with which to make it.
Again, if you think about technology, I think maybe this is what G-d is getting at when G-d comes out of the clouds and sees this and He says, here's one people and one language. Their unity is something which they use to create this; Vazeh hachilam la'asot - and they've begun to do this. V'ata lo yibatzer meihem kol asher yazmu la'asot - and now, nothing will be held back from them, anything that they want to do. It's not so much that they've done anything bad, there's nothing bad here. But there's something dangerous. What's dangerous is, is that what's the next thing and what's the next thing? Nothing will be held back from them, they'll continue going and they'll continue going. It will snowball and snowball and snowball. The snowball effect has begun, it's begun with bricks and the bricks have led to a tower and the tower will lead to where? What it seems to be is almost like an uncontrolled force.
Getting back to the themes which we've been talking about over this course, they're really the themes of creativity, what technology is, is really another manifestation of human creativity. It's not biological creativity, it's not sexual creativity, it's not agricultural creativity in planting, but it's something else, it's a technological creativity. It's not something that one human being can do privately with another human being, it's something which a community can do when they build 747s and all sorts of huge things. But the issue with technology always is - rather the issue of creativity always is - creativity needs something to guide it, and creativity unguided is cancer, and technology unguided is cancer. Technology without any guide, just multiplying in on itself has that self-multiplying kind of exponential capacity to it.
As a matter of fact, it's over this issue really that the great battles politically between capitalism on the one hand and communism on the other hand, have been waged. Which is, how do we deal with a technological society that has the capacity to leapfrog and grow and grow and grow? Who ends up suffering because of it? The question of who ends up suffering from it, by the way, I think is really the question that capitalism and communism really, really struggle with. If you go back and read things like Marx's The Communist Manifesto and those things, what were the issues he was struggling with, what were the issues in early capitalism, before unions, before anything, that he was struggling with? Really the same issues which, according to the Sages, the Tower of Babel people were struggling with.
Take a look at this word over here. Vayomru ish el rei'eihu - people said to themselves; Hava nilbenah leveinim - come, let's make bricks. This word Hava - come and making bricks, who else said that? In Exodus, this was Pharaoh. The other time we have this language is not Hava nilbenah leveinim - come let us brick bricks, but; Hava nitchakma lo - come let us deal wisely with them, and before you know it the Jews are making bricks. The parallels kind of seem eerie and they seem suggestive, what is there that's Egypt-like about the tower? Or what about Egypt was tower-like? Ahava - love, comes from the word Hav - to give. What does Pharaoh have to do with love? What did the tower have to do with love? What's so loving about all of this?
So if you think about what love is, I think love at a very crucial level, there's a wonderful kind of love. But there's something that can be lost in love, there's a sacrifice that can be made in love and that can kill, there's a dark side to love. In a certain kind of way I think the tower and Egypt is about that dark side of love. That dark side of love expresses itself in the dangers of technology, that I think G-d is trying to shut down. What is that dark side of love? I think it comes from looking very carefully at the kind of giving that creates love.
So when we come back, I want to take a look at that with you and try to put this together.
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