And the Lord said: Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language and this is what they begin to do, and now there will not bewithholden from them anything which they they purpose to do.” (11-16)
What is G-d “worried about” here? Is not the unity of mankind a good thing? Today there is no shortage of people who spend their entire lives attempting to bring international peace and unity to the world. And here in our parsha we are witness to the achievement of this lofty goal – and behold, G-d does not see the situation in a positive light to say the least.
The answer to this question is expressed in the words of our sages in the following Mishnah (Sanhedrin, Ch. 8): “The coming together of the wicked is bad for them and bad for the world”. When the goyim get together with peace, harmony and understanding prevailing amongst them; when they share common goals and aspirations – precisely at such a moment it is bad for them and for the world. For the wicked only gather together for the sake of carrying out evil goals, and unity amongst them can only help their diabolical schemes to succeed.
Naturally, the maliciousness of their intentions is not always obvious for all to see. After all, what did the generation of the Tower of Bavel in all their unity want, other than to settle the world (“and they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there”), bring progress and advanced technology (“Come let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly, and they had brick for stone and slime had they for mortar”), and provide urban planning and development (“Come let us build a city and a tower…”)? What is so bad about these things? Only in the continuation of the verse do we get our answer: “… and let us make us a name” (Chapter 11, verses 3 and 4). Behind all their deeds and their unity was the brazen arrogance in their thinking that mankind is omnipotent, as well as a narcissistic aspiration to leave their mark in the annals of history. Such egoism represents a rebellion against The Master of the Universe, and thus He annulled their evil council. This idea was what Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was expressing when he heard Rabbi Yehuda praising the evil Roman Empire for their construction of the marketplaces, bridges and public bathhouses: “Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai answered him: ‘Everything that they rebuilt, they rebuilt for their own needs'”. (Trachtate Shabbat 33)
The very essence of the Jewish People is the antithesis to that of the goyim. While the goyim aspire to make a name for themselves in the world, the Nation of Israel aspires to make a name for G-d in the world. Therefore, what the gentile considers to be evil and destructive, the Jew sees as positive and progressive, and vice versa. “The scattering of the wicked is good for them and good for the world, (the scattering) of the righteous is bad for them and bad for the world”. (Mishnah Sanhedrin, Ch. 8) The scattering of the gentiles is considered a “tikun” for the entire world, and thus the generation of the Tower of Bavel was punished. In contrast, the scattering or exile of the People of Israel causes damage to the world, and only their reunification and establishment of sovereignty on their soil can rectify this flawed situation. And so, while unity of the gentiles brings about destruction to the world, the unification of the Jews brings about salvation to the world, for the salvation of the world can only be attained through the Jewish People, because only through us can G-d’s Name be sanctified. Therefore, if we want to know when the unification of the gentile will be a positive thing, let us understand that this is only when their unity is derived from their subservience and connection to the People of Israel, and their recognition that “The G-d of Israel is King and His Kingdom Rules All”.
In recent years we have been witness to the breaking down of barriersbetween nations. The east and west have united, Germany has united, and a united world front stands mobilized at the fingertips of the U.N. Former foes America and Russia have ceased hostilities, and the entire world is uniting under the umbrella of democracy. Let us never live in the sweet illusion that this unity is something that works to our advantage. In an instant this combined front can come and demand from us impossible concessions. This is not some far out vision of doom, for our
prophets already spoke about Gog coming upon us – and how can one ignore it! But the fact is that inherent in the unity of the goyim is also the awesome potential for us to bring redemption gloriously and swiftly – if only we have no fear, trust in G-d, and willingly become a “nation that dwells alone”. By doing so we will merit to see the bursting of the bubble of Gog in our gates, and a redemption without needless suffering.