14 Av 5780 / Tuesday, August 04, 2020 | Torah Reading: Eikev
 
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HomeTorah PortionStories from the Baal Shem TovThe Fallen Tower - Noach
 
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The Fallen Tower - Noach    

The Fallen Tower - Noach



…they saw an amazingly beautiful bird. The bird's feathers were so brilliant that people couldn't stop speaking about them. It wasn't too long before word of the bird's beauty...

 



Parshat Noach
 
 
"Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower whose top is in the skies! …. God descended [to punish the wicked] to see the city and the tower that the descendants of Adam had built. From that place, God scattered them all over the face of the earth, and they stopped building the city. He [God] named it [the city] Babel because this was the place that God confused the world's languages." (Bereishit 11:1-9)
 
Originally there was a single language and everyone could easily communicate with each other. But then people sinned by constructing the tower. The tower was so high that even after its destruction there remained a third of the original tower. Even the remaining third was so high that a person could walk three days and still be in its shadow.
 
There were three groups of builders: One group wanted to live in the tower in the event of another flood; another group wanted to worship idols in the tower; and the third group wanted to wage war against God. These three groups of people were punished by being separated into seventy nations, each one with an entirely different language. The reason the builders weren't more severely punished is that they were at least unified with each other, irrespective of their being evil.
 
* * *
 
Once, the Baal Shem Tov was standing and davening Shemonah Esreh (18 Benedictions) for a very long time. After a lengthy period of time had already passed, a group of his closest Chassidim were quietly commenting to each other, "I've never seen the Master daven so long." After more time passed, the group of Chassidim grew tired of waiting and they singly and quietly left the shul. An hour or so passed and the Chassidim started to quietly return to the shul. They found the Baal Shem Tov still standing in prayer. After they had all returned and waited for a while, the Baal Shem Tov took three steps back to end the prayer.
 
Soon, there arose a discussion between the Baal Shem Tov and some of the Chassidim. The question was raised, "Rebbe, we've never seen you daven so long. Was there some special occasion?"
 
The Baal Shem Tov answered. "Actually, there was something very important that I was attending to in the spiritual worlds. At first, I was preceding smoothly. But as time passed and you all started to leave, I was unable to accomplish my intention. I wish you had all stayed until the end. You should realize that just as I am responsible for you, you're responsible for me. Let me explain with a parable.
 
"Once, there was a country across which large flocks of birds would fly from the north to the south in the Spring and vice versa in the Fall. People loved to watch the birds as they flew through their country. Once they saw an amazingly beautiful bird. The bird's feathers were so brilliant that people couldn't stop speaking about them. It wasn't too long before word of the bird's beauty reached the King. He offered a large reward to whoever was able to capture the bird and bring it to him. The people were bewildered how to reach the bird since it was flying high up in the sky.
 
"The King suggested, 'My subjects, why not build a human tower so that the top person can reach out and grab the bird and then bring it down for me.'
 
"The King's subjects were so excited that they immediately started to build a human tower. They climbed onto one another and the tower grew higher and higher. As time passed, the people at the bottom of the tower got restless. After all, they couldn't see what was going on higher up in the tower. Eventually they lost so much interest that they started wandering off. Naturally the whole tower fell down and there was no longer the possibility of capturing the bird for the King.
 
"So it was with us," explained the Baal Shem Tov.
 
"First, we were all joined together in our prayers. I was able to rise higher and higher into the spiritual worlds. But when you left me, the whole structure we built collapsed."
 
The Baal Shem Tov continued explaining, "Every Jewish person represents one letter in the Torah. When that person joins with his/her brethren in a sacred act, they fuse together into a vessel that holds Heavenly blessings. Just as all the worlds were created through the Torah and therefore depend on one another, so too with Jewish People who represent all the letters of the Torah. They must unite in love, with those above them and with those below them, to channel Heavenly goodness into the world.
 
"My friends," continued the Baal Shem Tov, "You didn't show that dependence of one for or for me at the top of our tower, when you each left to take care of your personal needs.
 
"So what can we do to correct our failed mission?" asked the Baal Shem Tov. "The answer is to fuse our souls through loving the souls of all our fellow Jews. And through this fusion, we can channel Heavenly loving kindness into ourselves and into the world around us."
 
And so it was.
 
***
Tzvi Meir Cohn attended Yeshiva Hadar Hatorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after completing his university studies in Engineering and Law. While studying at the Yeshiva, he discovered a deep connection to the stories and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His many books about the Baal Shem Tov can be found in the Breslev Store. He can be contacted at howard@cohnpatents.com.

 





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