Rabbi David Paskin
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From Rabbi David
When people read the story of the Tower of Bavel in this week's Torah portion they mostly think it's about people trying to reach the heavens by building a tower. I actually think it's much more about how they planted their feet in the ground than how they reached for the stars.
The story talks of how the people settled in Bavel and built a whole city. Contrast that with what comes right after this story in the Torah. Avram (later named Abraham) also travels and reaches his destination but instead of settling down he just pitches a tent. And rather than build a city - he erects an altar.
The difference, it seems, is that the people of Bavel thought they were done - they had reached the end of their journey. They could set down roots and build a whole city because there was no where else to go. Avram on the other hand, recognized that wherever he was in life was just a stop on a much longer journey so he pitched a tent and built a temporary altar. Whereas the people of Bavel were ready to put their names up in lights for what they had accomplished - Avram just wanted to call out God's name in gratitude for what God had helped Avram accomplish.
The moral of the story is that, in the immortal words of Canadian musician Tom Cochrane, "life is a highway...I want to ride it all night long." We are meant to move - to share what we've learned along the way and to always be grateful to God for the journey.