VOLUME 103 NUMBER 2
Cheshvan 3, 5783
October 28, 2022
Candlelighting Time 5:44 PM
The world was devastated by a global flood and the entire populace was wiped out besides Noach and his immediate family. They remained in their fragile capsule for an entire year tending to the enormous needs of the animals in their charge. Finally, the waters subsided and the ground dried and they were able to again enter the world at large. Noach had taken twigs from a grapevine and planted them, eventually producing wine and became intoxicated. He lay uncovered until his children brought a blanket and covered him. This narrative is extremely difficult to comprehend. Noach is defined in the Torah as a righteous person which enabled him to save himself and his family from the devastation that had occurred. How could someone of such stature stoop so low to become inebriated as an ordinary drunkard that frequents a bar?
Chasam Sofer explains that initially Noach’s intent was for the sake of Heaven. Just as he brought sacrifices after the flood, so too, he was going to use the wine for libations on the altar. Furthermore, he should have planned to fulfill the mitzvah of only using the fruits after the first four years of its growth. However, his downfall was that he enjoyed the fruits of his labor before he used it for Hashem. Indeed, Alschich further states that Noach anticipated to use the wine for his own purposes before elevating it for the altar. He cites the Midrash that when he was planting his vineyard, he encountered the demon Shemadon who volunteered to join him. However, he was forewarned that should he overstep his use of wine, then he would pay the price. And, of course, we know that he did!
The Sages also chide Noach that the very first planting that he was involved with was wine. Certainly, there were other types of food that needed to be dealt with, so why was the vineyard his immediate concern? This again leads us to the conclusion that his own needs were uppermost in his mind and then, he would address the sacrificial elements that wine is used for. The Midrash also comments that although Noach was referred to as a righteous man in the beginning of the parsha, at this juncture, he is called a man of the land. Albeit that he had invested a year of helping the planet survive by maintaining the animals contained within the ship, nonetheless, he apparently was unable to sustain his elevated nature. Rashi alludes to this in the beginning of the parsha stating that Noach required ongoing support from Hashem in contrast to Avrohom who was self-supporting.
Although the commentators point out the consequences of pursing one’s lusts and desires because of the obvious ramifications as witnessed in this debacle with Noach, there may be another caveat contained here as well. We shouldn’t ignore that Noach was certainly a man of great stature. After all, he spent 120 years following Hashem’s dictate to build the ship that saved humanity despite the insults and awful verbiage which was almost certainly levied against him for many decades. However, we also see how fragile we are. We should never feel that we are secure in our observance to the extent that we need not be cautious to avoid conceivable pitfalls. Adam displayed this concern when he erred and ate from the forbidden tree and again we view this same downside by Noach. We are never free from evil temptations and therefore we must always be on guard and protective of our accomplishments in serving Hashem.
BYTE FOR SHABBOS
Noach send the raven to ascertain if the ground has sufficiently dried. However, the Talmud tells us that the raven did not fulfill its mission. One has to have adequate merit to accomplish that which needs to be done. CHOFETZ CHAIM