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Parasha Insights

By Rabbi Mordechai Ovadia
October 28, 2020

“And Noach the man of the earth profaned and he planted a vineyard and drank from the wine and he became drunk”

Vayachel” Rashi explains that he profaned himself as he should have first planted something else.  The Midrash Rabbah says that Noach drank without a measure, meaning he became drunk.

Rav Menachem Min Ashkenasi  explains this Midrash. The Gemara in Avoda Zara mentions that the flood took place in the year 1656 after the creation of the world. The following year when Noach came out of the ark it was 1657. Rav Ashkenasi calculated by including the Shmitta and  Yovel years, we find that the year that Noach planted the vineyard was a Shmitta year. This was forbidden according to Halacha.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 26a) states that the Kohanim were suspected of not keeping Shmitta  because they would reason that since they are allowed to eat Teruma and the Kodshei Kodashim, even Shmita is allowed for them, and there are some who hold that Noach was a Kohen and thus he thought it is permitted to plant during the Shmitta year.

The Gemara (Taanit 17a) learns that a Kohen nowadays is forbidden to drink wine because the Beit Hamikdash may be rebuilt and the Kohen will need to perform the service in the Beit Hamikdash and if he drinks wine it is forbidden.  The Gemara asks but he can sober himself up with some sleep or with a brisk walk? The Gemara answers this will only help if he drinks a small amount but if he is very drunk this will not help.

According to this explanation we understand the Midrash that he profaned himself, as this was the Shmitta year and it is was forbidden to plant vines. But we could say according to the opinion that Noach was a Kohen he thought it was permitted. But then the Midrash says that he drank excessively and therefore in any case he did not act correctly because if Hashem would have built the Beit Hamikdash he would not have been able to perform the Avoda as he was excessively drunk.

“And Noach and his sons came into the ark – because of the waters of the flood”

(Bereshit 7:7))

Rashi says that Noach was lacking faith, he believed and he did not believe that the flood would happen and he did not go into the ark until the flood forced him to enter.

The Meforshim ask how could Noach doubt that Hashem would bring the flood upon the world when Hashem himself told him He would bring the flood. How is it that Noach whom the Passuk writes about him that he did everything Hashem commanded him to do, who spent 120 years building the ark and Hashem said about him he was a Tsaddik that walked in front of Hashem, how could it be that he doubted the word of Hashem?

The Be’er Yosef explains that Noach’s uncertainty was based on the fact that Hashem has mercy on His creations and He would not destroy them as the Gemara says in Senhedrin on the Passuk “And at the end of seven days the flood came upon the world” What were these seven days ?

Rashi explains that Hashem gave them 120 years to repent but they did not do so; He then gave me them another chance of 7 days to repent. So the reason that Noach did not enter the ark is because he thought that Hashem was merciful and he would wait for them to do Teshuva.

However Noach made a mistake because Hashem commanded him to enter the ark, therefore he had to enter even if it was possible that Hashem would have mercy. We also find that with Moshe Rabbenu Hashem told him that you did not believe in me to sanctify me amongst the bnei yisrael, as Moshe should have fulfilled the command of Hashem.  That is why it is written about Noach that he believed and he did not believe, he believed in Hashem’s mercy but this was called lacking in faith.


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