"Let us build a city and tower, with its top
in the heaven..."
The Generation of Dispersion:
The Midrash Rabbah brings down (Bereishis Rabbah 38:6) that there was a decision to build a tower to reach the heaven.
This in essence was a rebellion against Hashem. Avraham, who was 48 at that time, during the "Dor Haflagah", tried to change there evil ways and stop them from doing their sins.
Yet they ignored him, and instead of listening to
him, they mocked him that his religion was wrong for he had no
children, no one to continue in his way of thinking. They pointed
out that since he had no children, maybe G-d doesn't give reward
to those who follow him, or maybe there was not even any G-d (Chalilah).
What do we see here?
We see that the generation of the "Dispersion" were very wicked and they tried to belittle Avraham as much as possible.
Comes Rav Henach Leibowitz and asks why was it necessary for the people to go so much out of there way to negate Avraham's message?
They were the majority, so why didn't they just ignore
He explains that the Midrash is teaching us human nature, and the power of truth.
Avraham was maybe one of the only ones against there plan, yet they couldn't ignore his rebuke. If they would have not ridiculed Avraham, than his words may have seeped into their hearts and changed there way of thinking. This would have happened since Avraham was not talking to them as a "used car sales man", but he was telling them the truth, Emes.
By mocking Avraham, they in essence shielded themselves
from his rebuke, and they then continued rebelling against Hashem.
He continues and says that nowadays, there are many
that are open to hear the Torah, yet they are far from Yideshkiet.
If we come up to them and tell them the Torah's truth, then maybe
it will have a positive affect on them.
The Generation of the Flood
There was around 340 years between the generation of the flood and the generation of the dispersion. Both generations are mentioned in this weeks Parsha and there are similar things that we can learn out from both of them.
One may ask, why was the generation of the flood totally wiped out while that of the dispersion only dispersed?
So one explanation given by Rashi on the Pasuk (11:9) is that even though the generation of the dispersion united against Hashem, unlike the generation of the flood, they still had unity amongst themselves, and they loved each other. This shows us how great Achdus is. Yet their unity brought them to rebel against Hashem, thus the Ramban explains that their punishment was dispersion "measure for measure".
By the generation of the flood, they suffered a similar punishment as Sodom and its surrounding cities.
For Hashem only destroys a whole population, when it has no possibility to correct itself. Both Sodom and the generation of the flood, were morally corrupt. And they took moral laws and made it fit their needs. As Rav Twerski explains, they altered the laws in order to accommodate their self-indulgence , they legalized every evil.
They felt that they weren't doing anything wrong,
there was therefore no possibility of them to do Teshuva.
Flood vs Dispersion:
Rav Mordechai Ilan zt"l says that the generation of the flood had corrupted Midos, this is inherited by ones future generations. While the generation of dispersion sinned with their thoughts and ideology, this is not certain to pass on to future generations. We see a similar idea when Yakov commands Eliezer to take a wife from the daughters of Aram and not Canaan. For Canaan was corrupted in Midos, while Aram was corrupted in their Dayos.
He goes on further to explain the difference that in the generation of dispersion, their is only mention of Hashem, with the letters "Hay,Vav,Yud.." yet not Elokim. This shows the Midah of Rachamim.
While by the generation of the flood there is mention
of Elokim, for there the Midah of judgment had the upper hand.
We therefore see from the generation of the flood one way that blocks Teshuva, legalizing evil, and therefore one doesn't even see that what he is doing is even wrong.
And we also see from the generation of the dispersion,
another thing that blocks Teshuva, mocking those that rebuke us.
At times we need people from the outside, like Avraham
Avinhu, to tell us the truth, and thus correct our wrong ways.
However, that is not enough, we must also accept his reprimand
without mocking it.
How old was Avraham when Noach died?
Avraham was 58 years old (Nun Ches). (Ibn Ezrah)
Rainbow, we see in this weeks Parsha that Hashem
placed a rainbow in the sky to make a "Bris" with Noach
that Hashem will never bring another flood on the whole earth,
to wipe-out all man-kind.
The Gemarah in Chagiga(15) brings down that one should
not look at a rainbow intensely, because it is not respectful
When one sees a rainbow, he makes the blessing, "Baruch
Atah Hashem, Elokeinuh Melech Ha-Olam, Zocher Habris, Vne-Eman
Bivriso, VeKayam Be-Mamaroh."
The Mishnah Berurah brings down, that when one sees
a rainbow, he shouldn't point it out to his friend.
The Beracha has the same laws of thunder, that one is allowed to make the Beracha again if he sees a new rainbow even within 30 days. One makes the Beracha maximum, once a day.
There are those that hold, by a rainbow (and thunder...),
we don't say that the night and the day after that night is considered
a complete day (24 hrs). They hold that if one said the Beracha
during the day, they should not make it again at night. (For
a deeper look into the matter - Sefer Vezos Habracha pg 156)
The Biur Halacha writes (229:1) that it is not clear
if one has to see the Rainbow as a half of a round threshing
floor. Or if one is able to say a Beracha even when he sees just
part of the rainbow.
Other Halachic Ideas:
Orlah on planting for the Tzibur.