Tall Towers Tale

Tower of Babel by Brueghel
Rabbi Bassous related the following story on Shabbat:

About thirty years ago when the Soviet Union first opened its doors, an elderly woman arrived in Israel who was visited by many rabbis. She was not religious, but she was the granddaughter of someone famous: the Chofetz Chaim. They wanted to hear about her conversations with and stories about her famous grandfather. There was one story in particular that was related. The granddaughter, against her parents’ and grandfather’s wishes, had attended university. After much education, she came back to her grandfather and said to him, when are you going to give up your old-fashioned ways? The world is moving forward with science and technology; all sorts of exciting new discoveries are happening. The Chofetz Chaim replied, with all these great discoveries, they will build bombs. One day there will be a bomb to destroy the world. While they are building bombs, I am building people.

Rabbi Bassous then went on to relate this to the parsha, where the people build a tower toward the skies.

More on Congregation Etz Ahaim in this post.

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The Kosher Cooking Carnival, post-holiday edition, is on Batya’s blog. Thank you, Batya.

The painting is Tower of Babel by Brueghel.

9 thoughts on “Tall Towers Tale

  • How insightful! But then the Chofetz Chaim was not any rabbi.
    Concerning the painting you have chosen, it is interesting to note that it seems to have become THE illustration of the Tower of Babel.

    • I would have preferred a “Torah u Madda” approach – learn science AND Torah. And I wonder if a son had wanted to study at university, would there have been less objection?

      I am impressed with both grandfather and granddaughter, that despite their differences, they were able to maintain a relationship with dialogue. This to me is precious.

  • What an amazing story. The Chafetz Chaim eventually agreed to allow Sarah Shnirer to set up the Beis Yaacov schools based on the reasoning that girls needed a place where they could learn because otherwise they would learn anyway but in non-Jewish settings. I think he probably would have been more upset at a grandson abandoning Torah study.
    Another interesitng anecdote about the Chafetz Chaim is that apparently when introduced to the telephone he cried because he felt that it would be an instrument facilitating ‘lashon hara’ but then was consoled by the fact that it might also be used to save lives and would therefore be used for ‘pikuach nefesh’.

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