Noach and the Use of Wine

We were discussing on Avodah the origins of the idea of Qiddush. I argued that the notion of celebrating or thanking G-d with wine would seem to be one people would stumble upon naturally, arguing from Noach’s instinct to plant a vineyard.

Rn Toby Katz noted that I was making an unsupported assumption:

“Celebrating”? as Noach celebrating the “human condition” of having almost everyone you know dead in a world-wide catastrophe, and desperately wanting to escape the pain and grief of it all?

Interesting question: Was Noach drinking to forget, or to thank G-d for being saved? I really just assumed the latter. But looking at the context, I can see why I did so.Here is the sequence. Noach:
– gets off the ark,
– brings olos (entirely consumed offerings) thanking Hashem for being saved, and
– enters into a covenant with HQBH.

This covenant ends with “peru urevu … umora’akhem vechitekhem” (a repetition of the blessing to Adam to be fruitful, multiply, and dominate the creatures of the earth). In
short, the attention is firmly on rebuilding a future. As it is the introduction to the story about Noach getting drunk, where Hashem again lists those who left the ark, and introduces Kenaan.

So that explains why my mind went in that direction.

Looking at Rashi to answer this question, I also noticed the following:

Rashi makes a point of telling you that Kenaan is introduced because this story explains the root of Kenaan’s cursed state. Notice that it all starts with wine.

In saying Noach returned to his tent, the word “ohaloh” is oddly spelled with a final hei rather than ending with a vav to complete a full cholam, the usual suffix for “his”. Rashi tells us this is a reference to the 10 Shevatim, who were also called Ahalah — after the Shomeron. (A nickname for the Northern Kingdom that finds its way into Yom Kippur’s Qinos.) And why? Because the 10 Shevatim were lead astray through grape – “hashosim bemizreqei yayim — who drink wine from bowls and annoint themselves with the first of the oils, but are not pained by the downfall of Yosef (Amos 6:6)”.

There would seem to be an implied undercurrent of the 10 Tribes being accused of assimilating the attitude toward wine their Canaanite neighbors picked up from / demonstrated in this story.

And, judging from Amos, the problem with wine that Rashi is focusing on when explicating the story of Noach is inappropriate revelry.

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