Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Noach - 5774
"Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within the tent." (Bereshit 9:20-21)
Noah was a great person. The Torah describes him as a righteous and perfect individual. Yet his first action following the flood was criticized by the Rabbis in the Midrash.
An intoxicating drink is a good thing if consumed at the right time (and of course- the right amount as well.) However the Mishnah in Avot states "Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas said: Morning sleep, midday wine, children's talk and sitting in the assembly houses of the ignorant put a man out of the world."
Midday, when we experience the mental clarity of noon, is a time to accomplish. The post-flood-world required a great amount of building. Not just physical but spiritual as well. Noah should have utilized the time of clearness to guide his family and be sure that the new world that they were to build was one of ethics and morality. Instead, he decided to hide from the challenge and found his comfort in the bottle.
Without a doubt it is fine to end the day with a glass of wine or a shot of bourbon, to remove the edge, and appreciate the wonderful gifts of life. However, the lucidity of Midday must be utilized, and not be hazed by alcohol.
Regrettably, at a time that was designated to rebuild and create a world worthy of a relationship with the creator, Noah did some "midday drinking" and, as the Torah notes, he paid a price for his lack of judgment.