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In Babel the people say: Let us make bricks and burn them in fire.
And the bricks served them as stone, and bitumen as mortar.
And they say: Let us build us a city and a tower to the Heavens
to make a name for ourselves
let us make bricks: nilbenah liveinim
burn them in fire: nisrifah lisreifah.
bricks as stone: liveinah l’even
bitumen as mortar: cheimer l’chomer
They shape the world with word play.
Entering the Land, the people Israel are to stop at two mountains.
They are to set up stones there, and plaster the stones, and write Teaching upon them.
They are to utter curses and blessings atop the mountains:
Accursed is the one who sets a graven image… in secret
Accursed is the one who strikes his neighbor in secret
Accursed is the one who takes a bribe
Up on these mountains, Israel recasts the landscape with words.
Words are how we describe the world
but also how we shape it.
What world will our words create?
A world of our own name?
Or a world of justice when no one is looking,
of goodness in our most secret hearts?