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Tears and Language

Written by Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu

The events of the past week leave us without language, without even single words, sometimes even without the capacity to think. It is simply over whelming. Yet we must carry on, returning to synagogue on Shabbat, continuing to read Torah; an act of world building through stories and language

So soon after the creation, and straight after the flood, everyone on earth speaks just one language. (Genesis 11:1). This prototypical nation sets about building a tower, from bricks made with their own hands; it is as if they are making their own version of the original creation. God quickly sees how dangerous their power is, and acts directly on the human capacity for thought and speech. From this time on, there will be many nations, each with their own language, and none will understand the other.

The Midrash (Tanhuma) says that the original language that humanity spoke was lashon kadosh, Hebrew. God had to destroy that moment of linguistic union to protect the natural order from humanity’s evil inclination.

That is how dangerous the reality is.

But sometimes words are not enough. The rabbis of the Talmud (Chagigah 5b) also said, that in the face of our people’s captivity and despair, the Blessed Holy One retreats to a secret place, and wrapped in a tallit, God also weeps.

May our tears bring us comfort, and may every one of our communities be a place for consolation.

Shabbat shalom

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