Brueghel, Pieter the Elder (1525/30-1569) The “Little” Tower of Babel – Date: c. 1563
Oil on wood
Museum: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Saturday, October 20, 2012
What arrogance—to think about getting to heaven by building a tower, instead of being lifted up to heaven by God! The seventeenth century Rabbi, Chaim Ibn Attar, suggested that the sin was also found in placing humans in tight, vertical space, when God had intended the population to be spread out. Naturally he made this comment before the advent of high apartments and office buildings. Though these are not evils in themselves, one wonders where the boundaries of justice are, in decisions emanating from skyscrapers around the world that result in unjust distribution of the world’s resources.
The Day of Pentecost reversed Babel’s confusion of tongues, as recorded in Acts 2. We need to allow our mouths to be regulated by the Spirit—tongue of fire in the head and heart.
Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.
The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12, so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions near the International Date Line.