מציון תצא תורה
Read a Debar Torah from Israel Scholarship Recipient
Every individual piece of a puzzle is necessary to build the full picture. The characteristics each puzzle piece possesses contribute to the overall product; if they were all uniform, there would be no room for collaboration in creating a collective unit.
In the post-flood world of Perashat Noah, the nine-pasuk story of Migdal Babel is introduced as follows:
וַיְהִי כל־הָאָרֶץ שָׂפָה אֶחָת וּדְבָרִים אֲחָדִים
Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words (Bereshit 11:1)
They were all one puzzle-piece shape. The lack of individuality and diversity is apparent throughout the pesukim describing the story: references to the people are always in the plural form and nameless (an ironic juxtaposition to the pesukim right before this section which detailed the 70 nations in great length). With no distinction between voices, the people as one decide to “make a name” for themselves— “נַעֲשֶׂה־לָּנוּ שֵׁם” (Bereshit 11:4). A singular name.
I spent the past week on a Birthright trip with Midreshet Lindenbaum, and one of the most prevalent themes was understanding your personal relationship with Israel and your identity as a Jew. As a group exercise, our tour guide scattered onto the floor dozens of photos of anything and everything around the world and instructed us to choose one that resonates most with our meaning of Judaism. When we went around the circle expressing our insights, no two people shared the same puzzle piece. And the nuances are precisely what unified us under the one umbrella of our nation composed of individuals. Each of us recognized our own name, because connection to each other, to Hashem, and to our purpose cannot be achieved through generalization.
The people who, perhaps haughtily, attempted to “build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves” were not punished by being destroyed to smithereens, or provided with a leader to mend their ways. Instead, they were scattered, like the photos of my tour guide. The people became individual aspects, each with meaning of his own, but with an underlying layer of commonality. Every person was granted the opportunity to establish his own name, seek his own identity, and realize how his puzzle piece fits into the grand whole.
Spending significant time here in Israel, I am witnessing first-hand the beauty and essence of difference, the balance between the individual and collective, and the melding of various puzzle pieces, sometimes drastically different in shape, into the harmony we call our home.
Born into a community oriented, traditional family, Kaden Harari is passionate about embracing Torah as a lifestyle and exploring daily life by applying the proper values acquired through deeming Torah studies not merely a subject. As the youngest of seven she was constantly exposed to new ideas and different perspectives, ultimately developing an earnest love of learning – from our beloved pizmonim to nuances of others’ personalities. Kaden graduated as salutatorian of Magen David Yeshivah Elementary and continued her education at Yeshivah of Flatbush High School where her thirst for both Judaic and secular knowledge and pursuit of her interests only grew alongside her fervent pride in her identity as Syrian, as a Zionist, and as a Jew.