“Mommy, I think we broke some glass . . .”

It was time to intervene. I had pointedly overlooked the giggling, the dragging of every last sofa cushion, pillow and padding from the family room into the living room. I closed my ears to the swishing sound the bedding made as it was stealthily heaved down the hall. I ignored the thuds of little boys’ thumping onto piles of blankets and pillows piled high.

They knew I would disapprove of the mess, but they were having so much fun!I had pointedly overlooked the giggling Against my better judgment, I enjoyed listening to my boys as they schemed and planned, hoping to accomplish their covert mission below the radar of my watchful eyes. This was clearly a communal effort. They had formed their own building committee and constructed the best landing pad our furniture had to offer. But now, there was glass. Someone had the brilliant idea to see what would happen if a glass-framed photograph was placed on top of the pile. Would it catapult up? Indeed. Broken glass all over the carpet.

It was time for dispersal. Boys were sent to put on shoes and return each item to its proper location. The vacuum was plugged in, and the crackling sound of shards being suctioned into the canister put a definitive end to the revelry.

You may ask why I did not intervene sooner. They were literally turning the house upside down, and putting more than the usual wear and tear on important household items. Why did I wait so long?

I took my cue from the Ultimate Parent, G‑d. The Torah shows us in this week’s Parshah that peace is so tantamount to a functional society, G‑d is willing to overlook His children’s ungodly motivation if they are striving to achieve their goals harmoniously.

Parshat Noach relates two stories of human actions requiring divine punishment. First, and more prominent, is the flood which destroyed all of humanity save Noach and his family. The sages tell us that Noach’s generation committed all kinds of idolatrous sins. Their ultimate destruction, however, came as a result of stealing—the definitive disrespect of man for his fellow man.

The second story is a bit more nuanced. We are told of a group who share one language. They come together to build a city with a tower that would reach up to the heavens. According to the rabbis, this tower would allow them to wage war on G‑d. We read about the building of bricks and mortar, and what appears to be the completion of the tower, until G‑d descends and prevents them from finishing the city by dispersing them all over the earth and mixing up their languages.

Rashi—the foremost commentator on the Torah—asks a brilliant question: why was the generation of Noach, whose major sins were not explicitly against G‑d, completely destroyed, while this other generation, whose ultimate goal was to fight G‑d, simply dispersed? In his answer Rashi teaches us a very important lesson about G‑d and our role as members of the human race:

The Discord is hateful, and peace is greatgeneration of the Flood were robbers, and there was strife between them, and therefore they were destroyed. But they (the builders) behaved with love and friendship amongst themselves, as it is said (Genesis 11:1), “One language and uniform words.” Thus you learn that discord is hateful, and that peace is great.

We see an image of G‑d deriving pride from His children, even when they are actually out to get Him! But, after enjoying a moment of considering that generation’s love for one another, He needed to put a definitive stop to their antics.

As a mother, I have a responsibility to teach my sons to do the right thing. But the right thing can mean, at least ephemerally, getting along and cooperating. When this brotherly love is not ultimately for the greater good, I do need to put an end to it. In the meantime, though, for a few brief moments, I can kvell (take pride) over how beautifully they play together and the mutual respect my sons are developing for one another.