However, the Netziv, sees in these words, the world’s first totalitarian society, where the aim is to preserve the masses as a single entity, where all freedom of expression is suppressed.
As Rabbi Sacks adds: ‘Intoxicated by their technological prowess, the builders of Babel believe they had become like Gods and could now construct their own cosmopolis, their man-made miniature universe. Not content with earth, they wanted to build an abode in heaven. It is a mistake many civilisations have made, and the result is catastrophe.’
How does that link with the 21st century?
Well, yesterday Elon Musk took charge of twitter. It cost him the small sum of $44 billion!
His drive to take over twitter, was his dismay at the seeming controlling of free speech by the twitter overlords. If what you tweeted did not align with their world view and you were influential, they could ban you from twitter.
We are not talking about hate speech, but simply political or social messaging that is not in line with the ‘correct’ thoughts. The accusation is that this is a clear suppression of freedom of expression, the same accusation the Netziv gave to the builders of the tower.
It is so very apt that Musk took control of twitter this week on Parshat Noach. He tweeted this morning at 4:49am – ‘the bird is freed’.
This then appeared on Heimish Humour
The claim by Musk is serious. He said yesterday, “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”
How have we got to a place where some views are allowed to be shared, and others not? It comes when we no longer feel that all humanity is created in the Image of God. When we feel that those who think differently from us should not have a voice. Or to paraphrase George Orwell, ‘All people are equal, but some are more equal than others ‘
As always Rabbi Sacks ztl says it beautifully
‘Only when God is God can man be man. That means keeping heaven and earth distinct, organising the latter only under the conscious sovereignty of the former. Without this there is little to prevent human beings from sacrificing the many for the sake of the few, or the few for the sake of the many. Only a respect for the integrity of creation stops human beings destroying themselves.’
Let’s hope humanity learns the lessons of the Tower – but they don’t have to tweet about it!