By Rabbi Jonathan Freirich
We celebrate the multitude of Jews and Judaism in the same way that we celebrate the infinite variety of people and Peoples.
Much of this love of diversity comes from a Jewish propensity for honoring everything as coming from a single source. This was a topic in last week’s Torah reading imagining the universe as all originating from the oneness of God at Creation. We find an even fuller picture of the Torah’s zeal for differences when we read about the Tower of Babel this week.
In one of the shortest stories in Genesis, only nine verses, the Torah tells of God’s strong dislike of all people in the world acting in unison to build a Tower that reaches the heavens to make a name for themselves.
The rabbis comment that building the Tower became more important than human life – imagining that people were sacrificed for the sake of building higher and stronger. And then God’s destruction of the project by creating many languages helps show both the origins of diversity and gives a divine source to the Jewish principle that real creation comes from cooperation between different peoples.
A project is better when everyone contributes in an egalitarian manner. Inclusion and welcome lead to greater creativity than a grand project undertaken for an abstract idea, like reaching heaven.
Jews love the give and take of different perspectives coming together to clarify and create ideas that turn out to be bigger than any of us might have thought at the beginning.
Diversity, creativity, equality, and seeing differences as strengths to celebrate – we have been talking about these fundamental principles since “the beginning”.
Shabbat Shalom everyone!
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich is a spiritual leader at Temple Beth Zion.