Ask The Rabbi

De Vine Revelation

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Flood, End of, Why did Noah Get Drunk

Derek Koss wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

When the flood was over, the first thing Noah did was get drunk. Why? And what was the lesson from that? Noah acted so strangely from his drinking that his behaviors became a moral question. What was G-d saying?

hisadis@hotmail.com wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

How did Noah know how to make alcohol? How did he get drunk?


Dear Derek Koss and Ira,

As for Noah knowing how to make wine, there's no reason to think that people didn't know how to make wine before the flood. Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood, so he had plenty of time to learn what everyone else knew. Besides, grape juice ferments by itself when left to react with the oxygen in the air and it naturally becomes wine.

The Midrash relates that Noah took vine branches into the ark with him. He decided to begin the process of rebuilding the world by planting them. This was his first mistake, for he should have begun planting something more vital for mankind's existence - wheat, for example. One mistake leads to another: He made wine, had a drink, then another and another. Once drunk, he lost his dignity. The message is that the pleasures of the world are available for us, but we must exercise restraint and never lose sight of our role as a holy people.

Sources:

  • Bereishis Rabba 36:4
  • Midrash Aggada 9:21


 
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