Next Video Playing In ×
Noah and the Vineyard
Video 15 of 21
So here's what I'd like to suggest. If you go back to the original verse in the tree of knowledge, this verse over here, what do you find? The eyes of both of them were open, Adam and Eve, after they ate from the tree, and they knew that they were naked - Vayeidu ki arumim hem. So if we were going to have a perfect match over here in the story of Noah's vineyard, you might expect to kind of see the same thing. The perfect match would be that Noah woke up, his eyes would have been opened - which you do have, Noah woke up. But the perfect match would have been that Noah would realize that he was naked, because in fact actually Noah was naked. So he could have realized he was naked, the text could have said that. But the text doesn't say that. Instead he realizes something else. Vayeida - what does he realize? Vayeida et asher asah lo beno hakatan - he realizes what his little son had done to him.
So I want to make two points. Number one is - this is significant for what it says and for what it doesn't say. (A) It says something different than over here; that his little son had done something to him, so that's one difference. The second thing is what it doesn't say which is that it could have said that he also realized that he was naked. You know, woke up, realized he was naked, and it doesn't say that. So what's the sum total of not saying that he realized that he was naked and only saying that he realized what his younger son had done to him?
So I want to suggest the following. There's a kind of escalation going on here, all having to do with a certain unseen kind of theme, which I'm going to get to in a moment. The escalation begins with the following, the way we've understood this narrative it begins with Noah here striving to have a fourth child. That's what he's trying to do. And Noah began - and as we talked about before it seems to parallel G-d beginning, G-d creating man, Noah is trying to create a man. However, this process gets interrupted. Before you even find out what it is that Noah is trying to create, all of a sudden Cham enters the picture and he interferes. Now what exactly does he do? So in the simple plain meaning of the text he sees his father's nakedness. Maybe that in itself was enough to intimidate Noah. But in the Medrashic or Talmudic analysis, the Rabbinic interpretation, he actually did something. We talked about the support from the text for that idea. He interferes, perhaps violently, perhaps with some sort of assault, and blocks his father's ability to have this fourth child.
What happens after that though? What happens after that is actually an even further escalation. The further escalation is Noah responds actually with an assault of his own, which might just sound like verbal assault like sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, except that the Torah takes this pretty seriously, right? This is this curse - a curse which by the way - this Orrur kind of curse, a curse which throughout the entire Bible you never find anybody except for G-d leveling a curse like this against someone. It's a curse which we're given to believe has this profound effect upon the way nations develop. That there's this whole segment of humanity that comes from Cham, which is now subservient. Used to be equal to the brothers but actually subservient, is going to be in a subservient role throughout human history. So this is really a huge deal affecting millions and millions of people, what Noah did. So there's an escalation. So what Cham did affected Noah, what Noah is doing is affecting millions of people thereafter.
There's a certain kind of irrational quality you can argue to Noah's act. Because here's a person who is interested in having a fourth child to try to do what he can to contribute to the further development of humanity but in this sort of act of vengeance for Cham getting in the way of him having this fourth child, Noah actually goes and curses Canaan. Again, as I mentioned, completely sort of destroying or impairing a whole segment of humanity. Plus, it's his own grandchild, right? Who is he really cursing? It's almost like he's cutting off his nose to spite his face, he's cursing his own grandchild, destroying him. What I want to argue is that there's a certain kind of subjectivity at play here, both on the part of Cham and on the part of Noah, which is almost like blinding them, kind of getting in the way of seeing things objectively. That subjectivity is being propelled by something. What it's being propelled by I want to argue at the deepest level is this desire to create.
The desire to create is a fundamental challenge. On the one hand it makes us godly, that ability to create like G-d can create, but if you don't channel that desire, if you just let it run rampant, it can bring you down and that I think is what the tree of knowledge narrative is all about. The desire to create is what's propelling Noah on the one hand to have this fourth child, be able to fulfill G-d's command Peru U'revu. This also desire to create is, according to the Medrash, what is propelling Cham to interfere with this sort of assault, whereas that Cham wants to expand his own legacy, to have this double share in his father's portion. Enters into the struggle with his father over who will have this fourth child, who will be the one to father this new branch of humanity. Then in response to what it is that Cham does, Noach responds with an assault of his own, wiping out part of Cham.
Why is Noach doing it? Again, it's the desire to create. Noach is responding to the frustration of his own ability to be able to have this fourth child and somehow this fourth child is becoming this black hole, which is propelling everyone to do irrational things. Propelling Cham to assault his own father, propelling Noach to destroy his own grandchildren. Just everything is all crumbling and welcome to the world of good and evil; this gets back to that whole kind of subjectivity that very, very strong desires can create within us.
Going back to 30, 40 videos ago, when we talked about the tree of knowledge, that was what the tree of knowledge was all about, it's about taking desire outside of yourself and bringing it inside of yourself, where all of a sudden you see through the lens of desire. Desire is part of you, you can't distinguish between yourself and desire, you get too close to it, you become obsessed with it and it creates a kind of inherent subjectivity from which it's very, very hard to escape.
When Noach drinks from the fruit of the vine it's a direct parallel to Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge, and there is something about drunkenness which is very, very similar again, to the tree of knowledge. Remember when the officer tells the drunken guy to walk the line, how come the guy walks the line? Doesn't he know that he can't do it? But yeah, the drunk will do it. He's like - [spoken with slurring his voice] - Shure officher I'll be very happy to walk the line. He doesn't understand that he's going around in circles because to him what everyone else sees as a curved path to me just looks straight. Yeah, I'm going in a straight line. That's the nature of subjectivity, that you look like you're going straight, you don't realize how curved your approach really is. That's what drunkenness does to you, that's what desire does to you, when you get too close to it, that's what the tree of knowledge does to you, that's why I believe this is another tree of knowledge story. It's a tree of knowledge story in Noah's world.
Now what do I mean by it being a tree of knowledge story in Noah's world? Well in Noah's case the inherent subjectivity of the tree of knowledge is actually exacerbated by the fact that he's playing a dual role. He's living in man's world. Well living in man's world where man is the landlord makes things doubly hard when it comes to a tree of knowledge type story. Why? Well it gets back to again this dual role. Remember how we talked about before how Noah on the one hand is acting kind of like G-d and on the other hand he's acting sort of in the Adam role. In other words, if you view Noah as replaying the tree of knowledge story, some of the stuff he's replaying is, he's replaying things that G-d does, but some of the stuff that he does is replaying things that Adam does.
For example, Noah began just like G-d and Noah plants just like G-d. Remember, G-d is the one who plants the garden in Eden, well Noah plants the vineyard. G-d was the one who created people, Noah begins to create people. So Noah is acting in the G-d role, so to speak, and in this world - and again Noah is the landlord, we talked about before. Noah also is the one who makes the mind-altering substance; just like G-d was the one that made the tree of knowledge, so Noah is the one who processes that it's not just fruit that comes from the ground, but he actually makes wine, the sort of artificial substance.
But then the next thing that happens - and here's the inherent conflict of interest - is that Noah is also playing not just the G-d role, the one who makes the rules, but he's actually playing the rule breaker as well, the one who breaks the rules. Here in the Adam role, Noah is the one who is ingesting the mind-altering substance just like Adam. And, even more chillingly, Noah naked when he opens his eyes and realized what's happened to him, just like Adam, the next thing that happens is he goes back to the G-d role, which is that Noah curses the instigator. As I mentioned before, that word Orrur, is a god-like word, G-d is the only other one other than Noah that ever curses a person directly like that. He's arrogating to himself the sort of divine-like position.
The problem is, is there's this sort of conflict of interest. If you go back to the differences between the tree of knowledge and the vineyard, the center of the chiasm, let's put that back up on the screen again for a second. But when you compare these two, one of the fascinating things you see is this - in other words just to summarize, the similarity; both their eyes are open - Adam and Eve's eyes are open, Noah's eyes are open, Noah wakes up. As we talked about before, Noah knows something different. Noah is a victim of this terrible violence which is the cruel stepchild of creativity, which is Cham's violent desire to be the one to have this child instead of him - this is one of the ways it's different, he wakes up to see what his younger son had done to him. But getting back to what it doesn't say, what it doesn't say, what it could have said, is that Noah also realized that he was naked. Adam and Eve realized they were naked, Noah also could have realized he was naked. What does it mean that Noah didn't realize that? All Noah realized is what his little son had done to him, that's the only thing he realizes. That again is a mark of Noah's subjectivity.
The truth is, is that it took two to tango. The truth is, is that Noah was the one who decided of his own to drink of this tree of knowledge like substance. Noah is occupying the sinner role as well as the G-d role, at the same time. But Noah doesn't realize that. Noah doesn't accept his own culpability. It took two to tango, he didn't have to get himself drunk, he didn't have to make himself vulnerable to a child that he might have known was in a competitive spirit towards him about this phantom fourth child. Part of the blame here lies in the fact that Noah got himself drunk and uncovered; the text seems to suggest that in comparing this to the tree of knowledge, the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Yet Noah doesn't realize any of this. The only thing he realizes is what his little kid did to him. That's Noah's subjectivity
Again, it's almost like what Noah's doing is an act of vengeance against Cham. If you think about what vengeance is, what's really the difference between vengeance and justice? The difference is, is that vengeance is subjective, vengeance is justice carried out by the one who was wronged, and that's what happens over here. Noah on the one hand playing both the one who is wronged and the ultimate judge, he's the one who metes out this vengeance with terrible, terrible consequences. Consequences that affect his own grandchildren, consequences that affect millions and millions of people in humanity.
So that's what I want to share with you - at least my thoughts in understanding the connections between these two stories, the story of Adam and the Eve and the garden, the story of Noah and the vineyard. When we come back I think we're in a position now to really pull back and zoom out and take a very large-scale picture of what we've been doing over the past 60 videos. I want to come back and do that, I'll see you then.
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
Are you a day school teacher?
We have an exciting scholarship account option for you!