I heard an interesting dvar Torah the other day about the parsha of Noach.
The speaker pointed out that Nimrod united the world through his brilliant oratory. He was deserving of a Nobel peace prize. He wanted to create socialist healthcare system.
From Wikipedia: "Nimrod (Hebrew: ????????, Modern Nimrod Tiberian ??????? ; Nimr?? Arabic: ?????) is a Mesopotamian monarch mentioned in the Book of Genesis, who also figures in many legends and folktales. He is depicted in the Bible as a mighty ruler and nation builder who founded many cities, including the great Babel or Babylon. Despite his stance as a powerful leader, his reputation was tarnished by his traditional association with the construction of the Tower of Babel."
The audience sucked in its breath. It was the first time I had heard a sermon taking shots at a black man, in this case President Barack Obama. Generally this is not done in shuls, even in Orthodox ones, because it is generally considered bad form in most Orthodox shuls to go political in your Shabbos morning sermon. Also, few Jews want to say anything negative publicly about any black man, and certainly not the president, for fear of being called racist.
Most Jews I know would rather eat ham than saying anything publicly that could be considered racist.
The speaker alluded to Obama (or his administration) saying that Israel does not have a blank check.
The speaker turned to the ark holding the Torah scrolls and said, here is our check. If we perform God’s commandments, he will bless us and we will prosper in the land He has given us. Can we do this? Yes, we can!
Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power… Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them diverse languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion…