Plain Meanings - Complex Texts

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Rabbi Yehiel Poupko is bridging the gap between old Jewish books and contemporary realities.

Plain Meanings - Complex Texts

Bloggedy babble blog

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This is a blog. I really don't like the word 'blog.' It is a contraction, which erases two or more words and creates a new one, and the original meanings are lost. When I first heard the word 'blog' I thought it was 'blob.' It took me a while to figure out it was 'blog, which comes from the two words: 'web' and 'log. 'Web' is taken from the world of arachnids describing a woven or spun structure with a high degree of connection, which is how we described such things before we created the word connectivity. A 'log' originally meant short brief entries in a diary that measures naval progress. And then we get this word 'blog,' short for 'web' (meaning world wide web) with 'log' stapled on to the orphaned surviving 'b' of 'web.' Frankly, lots of stuff that ends up in a blog isn't a log at all. It is just writings of all sorts. And I guess people who coined this term continue to believe that since all of this was birthed by young people it should have funny, interesting, and cute kinds of names. Now you're thinking to yourself, blah, blah, blah, where is he going with all of this blog, blob, babble about all the babble, babble that the new technology that gives us web logs, blobs and blogs has made possible. I'm headed right for the first babble of all babbles, the Tower of Babel read in this season in the Synagogue.                            

Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words…They said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them hard." …And they said, "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world."  The LORD came down to look at the city and tower that man had built, and the LORD said, "If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach.  Let us, then, go down and babble their speech there, so that they shall not understand one another's speech."   Thus the LORD scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD babbled the speech of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.   (Gen 11:1-9 TNK)

Now what was their sin and why does the punishment fit the crime?  So what if they wanted to get into Heaven?  What's so bad about that?  It's cooler than trying to get into Hell.  And if they wanted to get into Heaven it's probably because they had some interest in God and possibly even wanted to talk with Him. 

Whatever their sin is, we do know one thing, God identifies the cause of the sin.  Their desire to capture Heaven, their desire to build a monument for themselves, their desire to make a name for themselves, their complete focus on themselves, could come about, the Torah teaches, in only one way.  They all spoke the same language; literally and figuratively.  Language reflects the creativity and the infinite complexity of the human mind.  Their language was engraved and frozen in stone; this means their thoughts were frozen.  They lacked a multiplicity of cultures. They lacked creativity.  Language is the first product of human intellectual creativity.  So all they could do was focus on themselves, a tower for themselves, a name for themselves.  People who focus on themselves think they can capture Heaven itself.  What does God say?  You've got to get away from yourselves.  You're going to get dispersed all over the Earth, but more importantly, you will no longer have one language.  Human multiplicity is borne of human beings being created in the infinite image of the One God.  If God is infinite then human intellectual, cultural, and spiritual variety is a testimony and an expression of that infinity.  These people were idolatrous.  They worshipped themselves and only one aspect of God.  So they spoke only one language.  God spreads them out.  God mixes up all their languages.  God babbles their language. That's where you get the Tower of Babel from, He babbles it all up.  He mixes it all up.  This people who were all of one language and of one mind,  got together in one place refusing to spread out and create many cultures and languages. What's their judgment?  God gave them so many languages they couldn't communicate.  Babel, Babel, Babel. And out of that civilizations were created.

They created  new languages. And we do it to this very day. That's how we got 'blog' out of 'web log,' and all the new language of inter-connective, intergalactic, uploading and downloading, platform connectivity, interface, webhosting, and a bunch of other words that all those younger folks know, that I do not, and not just contractions, but far worse, like LOL, BTDT, BTBS, TYOA, LIAM, GLY and on and on…..  and blog, blob, babble blog.

 

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