Construction has begun in the valley of Shinar where the people have gathered. God notices the tower and the city that the people are building and doesn’t seem to like them. God says, “Let’s go look at what they’re doing.” And then, “Let’s mixup their speech so they can no longer understand each other”– lo yishm’u ish s’fat re’ehu (Genesis 11:7).
Rashi notices two interesting things about this bit of the story.
1) God seems to be talking to someone else. Who might that be? Why is God talking to them? Rashi suggests that God is seeking counsel from angels, looking to them to help God make a decision about how to respond to the tower.
2) Rashi hones in on is about misunderstandings. He wonders what those misunderstandings might look like and what kinds of consequences they might lead to. He suggests that one person working on the tower would ask another for a brick and the other would bring limestone instead. The resulting conflict would not end pleasantly.
We’re following Rashi’s inquiry into these two parts of the story. As people created Betzelem Elohim (in the image of God), we need to ask for advice, just like God does. We’ll practice knowing whether advice is wanted and then both giving it and getting it. We’ll also practice identifying misunderstandings, considering their consequences, and taking steps to avoid them.
Here are a few questions that might spark conversation at home (or walking home) this week as you talk with your child about their learning at Makom Community:
- How can we tell when someone else wants advice?
- What are the strategies that we can come up with to listen better?
- If we are listening and understanding, how do we know how to respond?
- How do you help other people understand you?
- What do you want people to understand about you?
- How do we sort out misunderstandings in our family?