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Celebrating Diversity: Parashat Noach

At the end of Parashat Noah we read about the Tower of Bavel. The citizens of Earth were all united, living in the same place, and they wanted to build a 
tower to keep them all together working towards a common mission. God saw this as a form of rebellion against God, and responded by changing each one’s language so that no two people understood each other. This caused them to abandon their project and disperse.

It’s a short story that only spans nine verses, and from a literal reading of the description, their plan doesn’t seem so drastically rebellious to warrant a Divine response. Yet from God’s reaction we understand that their actions were actually in direct contradiction of God’s purpose for us on Earth.

As it said in last week’s portion, we were placed on Earth to work the land and preserve it – not just to take from it for our own benefit. Similarly, we were not placed on Earth to worry about ourselves alone. God’s plan for us included spreading out, settling in different lands, and celebrating peoples’ and individuals’ uniqueness, which, when combined, actually does improve world civilization.

Multiculturalism and celebrating diversity was one of the first values God instituted in Earth. As Jews, it is incumbent upon us to protect and promote these values wherever we live – for ourselves and our neighbours as well.

Shabbat Shalom!