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Noah and the Vineyard
Video 9 of 21
If we think about the nature of the difference between these worlds, one of the things we've been talking about is we've sort of been saying that this world of creation, this original world, was what we've sort of been calling G-d's world. Again, what we mean by that is not so much that G-d doesn't exist in the other world, but that this is a world in which G-d is resonant, G-d's presence is that much more palpably felt in this world of Eden. Yet in this other world, this is what we are calling sort of man's world, it's a world in which man occupies more of a central role, more of this landlord kind of role. G-d is there, G-d can still control things, man still has to develop a relationship with G-d, that's all true. Yet somehow this is more the place where man is resonant and man relates to G-d from afar. G-d is in the heavens again, in the word of the Psalms. This world is the world of mankind.
What I want to show you is how that plays out in, I think, a fascinating way in the story of the vineyard. In other words, what we are arguing - beginning to argue - and without quite understanding yet what we mean by it, but back to our binocular theory. That this story of the vineyard is an iteration of the story of the garden in a different world, in man's world. Well what does it look like when you sort of replay the garden in a different world, in man's world? So there are going to be some differences, right?
One difference; who is it that creates, who is it that begins? Remember, one of our connections was that in the story of Eden so it says; Vayitzhar Hashem Elokim - G-d begins to create mankind. Then in the Noah story it is Noah beginning. Interestingly, like Noah is actually sort of occupying the G-d role. G-d begins an enterprise, in this story Noah begins an enterprise. In the previous story G-d had created man from the ground, in this story we're focused on Noah, Noah is the man from the ground. Who is it that plants a garden in G-d's world? It's G-d who plants the garden. Who plants the vineyard in Noah's world? It's a man who plants the vineyard.
Then when we talked about the forbidden tree, man eats a forbidden tree, a tree that plays with your mind. Well if you think about that forbidden tree who was it that created that forbidden tree? Who was it that put it off limits? Who was it that warns man not to eat from it? All of that is G-d. G-d is responsible for the creation of the forbidden tree. Well what is the forbidden tree in this story? It is wine. Notice that G-d does not forbid it, it has the same sort of mind-altering kind of effect, but G-d actually doesn't forbid it, nor does G-d create it, so G-d never actually puts the wine off limits. If you think about one of the really interesting differences between the forbidden tree, what was forbidden? In the world of Eden it was fruit that was forbidden, over here it's wine that's forbidden. Well what is wine? Wine is actually a manmade substance, it's what we make when we process fruit.
So in an interesting kind of way it shouldn't really come as a surprise to us that wine ends up being the corresponding theme to the tree of knowledge in Noah's world because you'd expect it to be something that man would create. In G-d's world, G-d creates the mind-altering substance, in man's world the mind-altering substance is something that we create.
By the way, I want to share with you a fascinating thing I came across, which I think really confirms that we weren't the first people to think of these links between creation and re-creation, G-d's world as it were and man's world. You wonder, did anybody else think of this? Well I think there's evidence that thousands of years ago the ancient Rabbis of the Talmud and Medrash thought of it. I want to show you a fascinating piece of text here from the Babylonian Talmud, where you have this discussion among the Rabbis as to what was the nature of the original tree of knowledge, what kind of tree was it? It wasn't necessarily an apple tree, what kind of tree was it? Well here's Rav Meir's opinion. Rav Meir says, guess what kind of tree it was? It was a vine. They were grapes.
Here's what Rav Meir says. I'm just going to quote it for you, if you don't know Hebrew don't worry about it, I'm just going to throw it up on the screen, I'll translate. Geffen hayah - it was a vine, this original tree of knowledge. Why? Ein lecha davar shemeivi yelalla l'adam elah yayin - nothing brings weeping and tragedy to man other than wine, drunkenness. Shene'emar - now listen to his proof text - fascinatingly. The proof text is; Vayesht min hayayin vayishkor - and he drank from the wine and got drunk. Well where is that text? That's Noah drinking from the wine from his vineyard. So you see what Rav Meir's doing? He's creating this explicit connection between the original tree and Noah vineyard, just as we've seen through these textual parallels. I don't think we were the only ones who noticed it. The vine, G-d's tree of knowledge, becomes the wine, man's tree of knowledge in man's world, in Noah's world.
Okay, we've been concentrating a little bit on the connection between these two particulars over here, which is the connections between the tree on the one hand and the wine, in particular, on the other hand. But let's just not lose the overall picture here, what we've been doing is charting how it is that this story morphs, as it were, into the vineyard story? Or what it looks like when you take the tree of knowledge and you replay it, as it were, in man's world? Just to get another sense of it, let's just go through a few more of these parallels.
See this one over here? In the original story Adam and Eve, then G-d covered nakedness with clothes. Well back in Noah and the vineyard somebody else covered nakedness, right? G-d [wasn't/was 6:37] the one who covered Adam and Eve's nakedness, remember in the story G-d actually is the one who makes them clothes in the end. Well Noah is also covered, but it wasn't G-d who made him clothes, it was his children, Shem and Yefet who cover nakedness with his clothes. So again in, so to speak man's world, it is people who come along and cover a vulnerable person's nakedness with clothes.
Similarly over here, the snake in the original story, an instigator of evil is cursed. Well there's an instigator of evil in this story too, and it is Cham and he also gets cursed. But the one who curses him is not G-d, it is actually Noah. In man's world it is man who levels this terrible curse.
So the common denominator which we're seeing in all of these situations is that Noah is kind of occupying the sort of landlord role. In other words, the role which G-d was occupying in this story, the one who begins creating, who plants the garden, who issues the curses - actually Noah is occupying that role. It makes a lot of sense with what we were talking about before, it's sort of man's world, man is more centered, G-d is more distant. Noah occupies the central - almost little creator kind of role, as we were talking about before, big creator and little creator. Noah is sort of stepping into these shoes, kind of as little creator, little G-d on earth as it were.
But there's also something fascinating because it's a little bit tricky when you start occupying the sort of G-d role, you're really playing with fire. Because after all Noah is a person, Noah is not divine, Noah is not G-d. Therefore if we are really careful about it and we just chart, we say, okay what role is Noah occupying in this story? In other words if you asked this question, if the Noah stories parallels the Eden story, well what role in the Eden story is Noah playing? The answer to that is actually not so simple.
On the one hand he is playing the G-d role, as we've talked about before. Noah begins just like G-d, Noah plants just like G-d, Noah makes the mind-altering substance - the wine in this case - just like G-d does. But then in some ways he's not actually occupying the G-d role, he's occupying the Adam role. How so? Who is it that ingests that mind-altering substance? It's Noah just like Adam. Who is it that gets naked? That's Noah just like Adam, opens his eyes, he realizes what's happened. All of that is the Adam role in the story. Then, after that we're back to Noah occupying the G-d role, Noah cursing the instigator just like G-d. So what's fascinating is that in some respects Noah occupies the G-d role but he also occupies a second role, he occupies the Adam role. Noah is, so to speak, wearing two hats in the story, the Adam hat on the one hand but also the G-d hat.
Which leads to, I think, a very intriguing, tantalizing question, which is, is there some sort of inherent conflict of interest in the role that Noah is playing? Is he sort of playing G-d and human being at the same time? Maker of forbidden fruit and sinner, so to speak, the person who ingests the forbidden fruit. No, it's not really a sin, it's a little bit more ambiguous because he was never told not to. But again, maybe that's sort of a function of his dual role. On the one hand he's the maker of this thing and he's the [ingestor 10:05] of it, and it's as if he's sort of making his own rules. In this little world G-d has allowed him to make his own rules. You want to drink the wine? Then drink the wine, see what happens.
So this is an intriguing question I want to continue to explore with you. If Noah is playing two roles, if you're playing G-d and you're playing Adam at the same time, is there an inherent conflict of interest in those two roles? Can you be both maker of forbidden fruit and consumer? What does it mean when you play both of those roles? So that's something which we're going to continue to explore in our upcoming work in the story.
1. The Generations of Heaven and Earth
2. Before the Rain and After the Flood
3. Splitting the Garden
4. Generations of What?
5. Of Rivers and Nations
6. The Vineyard, Introduced
7. God Begins; Noah Begins
8. The Vineyard and the Garden
9. Conflict of Interest
10. Two Hands at the Piano
11. What Cham Did
12. Why Cham Did It
13. The Vineyard's Center
14. What You Know Might Hurt You
15. Why the Drunk Walks the Line
16. The Big Picture
17. Chiasm in the Garden?
18. Chiasm in the Garden II
19. The Center of the Garden
20. The Mysteries of Imperfect Chiasms
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