Abandoning Our Heritage
The Urge for Power: Babel II
The urge for power is so well described since Biblical times in Genesis (Bereschis) and the story of the Tower if Babel. It speaks of the time when G’d created the world and all people spoke one language and understood each other. This changed when mortals moved to the land of Shinar and settled there. They decided to build an enormously tall tower that would reach to heaven. They anticipated making a name for themselves, and feeling worthwhile, important and superior. The craftsmen who built the Tower of Babel were haughty and self seeking. They wanted to be at one with G’d. They were dissatisfied with their status quo and, as is written in the Chumash, that because of their vanity and their search for power, their vying for “one upsmanship,” their languages were confused and they were dispersed all over the world. As happens so often in human history, they ignored their spiritual advantages and to turned to self aggrandizement and power. Each individual wanted to be The Boss!
The narcissism that created confusion then is still true today. We see it among politicians and ordinary folk who want to be in charge by the proverbial hook or crook. They cannot accept themselves unless others follow their whims. They do not consider anything except their personal desires. Symbolically they do not care to understand the feelings or well being of the people whom they serve or what pain they cause for their constituents or humanity in general. They build palaces for themselves while others live on the street. They eat caviar and steak while others cannot afford bread. These “others” are directed to “tighten their belts”. Those in power are most often unable to feel the pain of the have nots, the old, the homeless, the sick or the disadvantaged. They speak a language that has little meaning to the common man. These power hungry people frequently have little or no conscience. They have forgotten their past or possibly have never had to struggle and do not even know the meaning of work. We need only to look at the history of such criminals as Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and, more recently, Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
We, especially as Jewish people, forget what preceded us and view the world with frosted vision. We do not look closely enough at history and therefore have history, a negative history, repeat itself. We blindly vote for our mortal enemies, those who are seeking to destroy us. We do not ask or notice their past or carefully find out what the politicians' actions (not flowery meaningless words) were and how they behaved toward their Jewish neighbors. We have so often been misguided by glamorous diatribe delivered by or for one or another politician that we forget what the true actions were in the not too far distant past. We preach that we must never, never ever forget the holocaust and yet we do forget when it comes to our votes, our moral commitments.
We have lost so much in the past ten years. We have abandoned our beautiful heritage and no longer stand by our Jewish learnings - our beliefs. We are reluctant to stand by our kin, our own brothers and sisters. We no longer understand one another or ourselves. Like the people of Babel, we speak in foreign tongues; therefore we cannot comprehend one another.
Let us rekindle our similarity, like the two Sabbath candles and their calming sparkle. Let us sing the Lecho Dodi and let us be able to speak the same language that we learned at our mother’s knee!
Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).