Wednesday, January 14, 2015

448 - Noach

Noach's very first agricultural endeavor after leaving the teivah was the planting of a vineyard. The Torah tells us the ramifications of his action: "He drank from the wine and became intoxicated and he uncovered himself inside his tent" (Bereishis 9:21). Rashi points out that the word "ohalo - "his tent" should have been spelled with a vav at the end of the word as opposed to a hei. The Torah spelled it with a hei thereby hinting to the ten tribes whom were called "o'hala" and were sent into exile due to the sins that ensued after they partook of wine.

The Maharal explains the connection between inebriation and exile. A person was created with the expectation that he use his mind to cleave to Hashem. Man's mind is rooted in the heavens like a tree is rooted in the ground. When he becomes inebriated, he becomes uprooted and he severs that connection. The metaphor of the uprooted tree alludes to man's being separated from familiar territory and going into exile. The Maharal continues that in a similar vein, Noach's drunkenness resulted in him uncovering himself: Exile and nakedness are both demonstrations of leaving the confines of one's privacy.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) adds that drunkenness is not caused solely by imbibing alcoholic beverages. It is possible for a person to become intoxicated by the pursuit of honor or his personal desires. Negative traits like these have the ability to disconnect the mind from any thoughts of Hashem.

We find this idea later in the Torah with the story of Korach and his cohorts. Moshe told Korach's two hundred and fifty followers to offer ketores "in the morning." Rashi explains that Moshe pushed off the offerings until the next morning because, "now it is a time of drunkenness for us." Their drunkenness had nothing to do with wine intake. Rather, they became "drunk" as a result of the negative middos that triggered their argument with Moshe.

People get caught up in all types of pursuits. When one totally involves his mind with a particular endeavor, he very often forgets to bring Hashem into the picture. In such a situation, he has, to a certain extent, disconnected himself from Hashem; a dangerous phenomenon. Many times he loses his sense of direction and his avodas Hashem - whether it be bein adom l'Makom or bein adom l'chaveiro - suffers as a result. Before embarking on any serious endeavor one should seek the advice of an objective person. Such advice has the ability to help a person not only in a practical sense, but also spiritually because it allows him to maintain a connection to his Creator. There is no greater success than that!

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