This post is dedicated in memory of Shlomo ben Aryeh Zalman. May it be an aliyah for his neshama.In this week's Torah portion we read the story of the Tower of Bavel. First we see all life on Earth was wiped out due to immoral behavior. Then, as soon as society has a chance to repopulate, the people again rebel against G-d. There are a few opinions as to the motivation behind the building's construction: some commentators say the people wanted to reach up to heaven and destroy G-d (ch"v) so that life on Earth couldn't be destroyed again, others say the people attributed the flood to natural causes, and the tower was being built to hold up the sky and prevent it from crashing down and flooding the world again. In any case, we see something confusing: people in this society weren't so many generations removed from the flood.
They knew exactly why G-d caused the destruction, and of His promise not to do it again. If this is the case, why all of this activity to prevent something that they should know isn't even true?
We see from this example how quick people are to forget the past and make the same mistake. As the old saying goes, "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." So even though the generation chose to ignore the mesorah they have and try to 'defeat' or otherwise act up against the Creator of the World, because they were unified in their mission, G-d chose not to destroy them. Instead, he struck them down with new languages, 70 in all, and spread the people around the planet, so they would no longer be able to easily unify for destructive purposes. We also see the power of unity. It's such a rare thing for everyone to agree easily on anything. G-d valued this ability to cooperate, so it's something we should recognize as important. Let us all be able to communicate with those around us, even if it feels like they are speaking another language, and work to be unified in our lives for Mitzvot, what G-d values as good.