This week’s parsha review from the Oisvorfer is being sent a shtikel earlier because it’s longer than usual, contains a boatload (pun intended) of new information about Noiach and his life pre and post Mabul, is informative, humorous, a shtikel sarcastic, and is worth reading over and over. You will be amazed, educated and somewhat bewildered.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Noiach: everything they forgot to teach you in Yeshiva….
In order to properly chap the earth shattering events that take place in Parshas Noiach, which we’ll have the great pleasure of hearing this coming Shabbis, we must avada begin with a shtikel chazora (review) of last week’s Parsha of Bereishis. And as the Oisvorfer told you just last week, it all started going downhill, and fast, when the RBSO decided, on day six, to create man. To ensure that man was doomed for failure, He also gave man an eishes chayil (wife). With the introduction of the slithering nochosh (snake), all the ingredients were now in place and avada the triumvirate did not disappoint. How bad was man?
Nu, a Medrish found in at least several sources (with variations in a number of places including the heylige Gemora and Midrash, including Yoma 67b; Targum Yoinoson ben Uziel to Bereishis 6:4; Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer 22; The heylige Zoihar 1:37a; and Yalkut Shimoni, Bereishis, remez 44) tells us that when the behavior of the Mabul (flood) generation reached levels that became repugnant mamish to the RBSO, the malochim (angels) said to the RBSO-we told you so- we told you the world would be a better place were man not to be born. Oy vey, and is it a wonder that the RBSO had buyer’s remorse about creating man? Did that taka happen? Ver veyst. And we interrupt the Parsha review to bring this more than amazing Medrish about man. Says the Medrish azoy: when the generation of the flood went astray, the RBSO began to regret his creation of Man. Then two malochim, Shamchazai and Azael, came before the RBSO and said, “Did we not warn You before You created man, saying, ‘What is man, that You should be mindful of him?’” the RBSO replied: “Then what shall become of the world?” “We will suffice instead,” they replied. The RBSO answered, “I know that would you live on that world, the Yetzer Horo (evil inclination), that little devil, would rule you just as much as it controls man, but you would be even worse.” But the angels persisted, saying: “Let us descend to the world of men, and we will show You how we will sanctify your name.” And the RBSO said: “Go down and dwell among them.”
Sure enough, as soon as the malochim descended, their evil inclination kicked in, as he does regularly, and overpowered them. Seemingly, once here on earth, their immune systems were weakened and they became just regular guys. When they saw the beautiful “daughters of man,” they became corrupted, chapped them and also sinned with them. Efsher the term ‘touched by an angel’ was born right here in this parsha. Another Medrish will tell us that these former malochim and their descendants were the nephilim, the giants and mighty ones, a subject we cannot adequately cover this week. Grada just last week in shul, a talmud of the Oisvorfer, himself a pretty decent sized oisvorfs, asked the Ruv to write about the nephilim, and the Oisvorfer will delve into them more next year with help from the RBSO. Nu, back to last week’s chazora.
Neither man nor woman could resist the temptations of the snake, if you chap, a machla (disease) plaguing mankind ever since, if you chap. Odom, thinking with his, avada partook in the sin of eating what he shouldn’t have, but blamed the eishes chayil, a minhag (custom) a great majority of men have, with measured success, adopted ever since. The bottom line: people enjoy forbidden fruit as the heylige Gemora tells us “mayim ginuvim yimtoku” (forbidden waters are sweet); indeed they are. The RBSO, not at all tzifridden (satisfied) with their behavior, meted out swift punishment. They were removed from the paradise of Gan Eden and forced into exile to live in places like Flatbush, the Five Towns, Englewood, Beverly Hills, and other such neighborhoods. Veyter!
By the end of the parsha, ten generations had come and gone and we are introduced to Noiach and his kinderlach. Ruba di’ruba (the great majority) of the people inhabiting the world by that time were quite giferlich, much worse than your average oisvorf. They were seemingly all minuvils and chazerim; in fact, compared to them, you’re all tzadikim (righteous), at least some of you. Disgusted by man’s wickedness, the parsha ended with the RBSO expressing His “regret” for creating the world, and His vow to destroy every living thing, except for the righteous Noiach and his mishpocho (family). And with that background, let’s get on deck with Noiach and his adventurous boat ride. We won’t get to spend time with Gilligan, the Professor, and we’re tzibrochen (brokenhearted) mamish that we won’t get to meet Mary Ann and especially Ginger, ober the adventures of Noiach and his mishpocho are exciting even without them; lommer unfangin (let’s start).
Parshas Noiach begins by describing his superior character contrasted with the wickedness of his generation. Of course, even back then, people were jealous imfarginners (insanely jealous) and many commentaries discuss Noiach’s true character. Was he really a good guy or was he just good compared to the other deviants of his generation? And taka the Oisvorfer was always bothered as to why the great majority of Medroshim and other Rabbinic literature treat Noiach so harshly. Doesn’t the heylige Toirah (6; 9) itself tell us that Noiach was “Ish Tzadik”, a righteous individual, a good guy? Yes it does! Who are we to argue with the RBSO and His written word? Whatever happened to learning the words of the heylige Toirah as they were written? If the RBSO saw fit to save Noiach and his mishpocho, and told us that Noiach was not just a good guy but also a Tzadik, is it at all correct for others to besmirch his character? Yet the first Rashi and the heylige Gemora and many commentators raged a debate over his true character. Is this not the classic case of loishon horo? Ver veyst?
Says Rashi: there are those who say that had Noiach lived in the times of tzadikim (better people), he would also have been considered righteous. In other words: he was truly a good guy. Others say farkert (opposite): had he been living in other times he would not have been such a tzadik.
Anyway, the people around him were quite bad. How bad? Nu, I’m, glad you asked. Sexual deviances of every variety, including those you chazerim order and watch on the mamish treif internet, or efsher worse, order on pay per view, chas v’esholom, and cholila, even worse, pay handsomely for such services, were commonplace. Moreover, while the people were in a state of nakedness, others were rifling through their wallets; the world was full of robbery and thievery; raincoats went missing in Shul, black hats were stolen while people were shokeling with taleisim (prayer shawls) over their heads, gartlich too went missing and were used for nefarious purposes, if you chap, and the RBSO was quite upset. How mad?
Said the RBSO to Noiach (Beresheis 6:13) azoy: The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the Earth is full of violence on account of them. I am prepared to destroy them with the Earth. Nu, di ershte kasha is (the first question is): What was the giferliche chayt (sin) of Noiach’s generation that angered the RBSO to a point where He sought to destroy them? Says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 57a), that the world was immersed in jealousy, greed, theft, violence, lying, intolerance, deception and fraud. A few misdemeanors and efsher also a felony or two.
And who but Rashi to further illuminate by explaining that the Dor Hamabul (flood generation) was guilty of three crimes. Ershtens (firstly): The people had adopted avoido zoro (idol worship), a central theme and crime we’ll be hearing throughout the entire Toirah. The RBSO mamish hates avoido zoro, seemingly much more so than sexual impropriety; avada this is good news for a number of you that chap, if you chap. They had abandoned all parameters of proper sexual conduct. Even incestuous relationships were common, and all this took place thousands of years before the advent of the TV and the internet. For some, that wasn’t enough, and they experimented with bestiality, you hear this Raboyseyee? Some say that even the animals were experimenting. Rashi doesn’t get into much detail here, ober zicher you can count on some color from the heylige Gemora, and avada chazerim like yourselves can get a visual, if you chap. On the other hand, was there a sex manual at the time? Were they ever told not to? Efsher they were just experimenting and being creative? Isn’t creativity and innovation, something we don’t find at home, nebech, if you chap, a good thing? Nu, veyter! Not just were they depraved sex maniacs, but Rashi points out that they were also ganovim (robbers). Moreover, they had no Derech Eretz, and sadly we don’t have Derek Jeter. Chasidim were surfing porn on their blackberries while listening to hespeidim (eulogies) at levayas. Nu, at least they were respectful and weren’t schmoozing. Children were discussing sports during Mincha in yeshiva. People were parking in handicapped spots; even the Rabbis were caught stealing one another’s sermons. In fact, Rashi tells us that they were finally doomed because of the crime of violent theft. Efsher the sex part would have been forgiven; ver veyst? Another pshat: Ibn Ezra tells us that the worst of all transgressions was that the people exploited one another sexually and also in groups. More on this group chazerish behavior below.
Says the RambaN, that the significance of violent robbery was that it demonstrated that humanity had degenerated to an extent that virtually precluded its rehabilitation. In other words, although humanity was engaged in a variety of other depraved behaviors, these activities allowed for the possibility that humanity might realize its failings and reform itself. Seemingly there’s a shtikel hope for some of you. Ok- veyter (let’s move on.)
What did the RBSO do? Did He sit by and watch this unfold without a response? Absolutely not, or maybe yes. Maybe both. First He let them enjoy themselves for 120 years, and that’s what I call a party. Can you imagine a 120 year orgy? Who had koiach (strength) for all these activities? Seemingly they did! Nu, efsher we can klerr that group deviance didn’t tire the people out as much; one could take a break and let his chaver do the heavy lifting, if you chap. Do you need more color here or do you chap what went on during those days, even without printed visual aids, TV, or the farshtunkine Internet? Bad is bad! At some point, after 120 years of party hearty time, the RBSO said ‘Dayenu’ (enough), got really upset, mad as hell, and decided to start all over again. The entire generation was doomed including the behaymois and other vilde chayis; only the good guy Noiach, his mishpocho, and a few select animals, those that the Medrish and others tell us, didn’t partake in the sex orgies, were selected for savior.
Noiach is told to enter the Tayvo (Ark) along with all the animals. On the 17th of Cheshvan, 1656 years from creation (October 27, 2106 B.C.E,) the flood began. For 40 days and nights the waters increased, destroying all living things. The water raged upon the surface of the earth for 150 days, and then diminished for the next 150. On the 17th of Nissan, Noiach’s Ark rested upon Mount Ararat. Exactly where that is has been the subject of debate, books, movies, and exploration ever since. Noiach sends out the Raven and then the Dove, and on the 27th of Cheshvon, exactly 1 solar year after it began, the earth was dry. Is the Parsha over? Not by a long shot, and the action picks up dramatically. Though we’re approaching Shishi and you’re thinking about an early exit where you can chap some kiddush, though the Rabbi rails against this, and abhors this minhag, the Oisvorfer is telling you that the adventures of Noiach and his three sons are just beginning. Stay tuned, the Oisvorfer assures you that what you’re about to read, was not covered by your Rebbe in Yeshiva though some of the chazerish behavior they did try to emulate from time to time, if you chap, which some nebech did. Nu, lommer gayn veyter (let’s learn some more).
“Noiach, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent.” (Bereishis 9:20). Noiach, the tzadik, now a drunk, debased and naked, yikes! What happened next?
After the waters of the flood subsided, and the RBSO commanded Noiach and his family to leave the ark, Noiach encountered a desolate wasteland, a reminder of the year of unprecedented destruction the world had just endured. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of rebuilding which was necessary to render the world once again inhabitable, Noiach chose to begin by planting a vineyard. The end result was that he became drunk after drinking from the wine, and passed out naked in a drunken stupor. Says Rashi, and who knew better: Noiach’s error was that he should have overcome his craving for wine and begun by planting more essential trees. Overcoming cravings has always been a challenge, if you chap.
The emes (truth) is that the Oisvorfer is a shtikel embarrassed to discuss this subject matter, but in the interest of education, just like the heylige Gemora lehavdil, he feels that it’s his tafkid (duty) to teach and inform so that you can discuss these words at the shabbis tish. Mistama this is a case where one should describe the events bloshoin sagi-nohor (whitewashing), ober, this is what the heylige Gemora and others teach us went down. Ershtens and bikitzur (a short summary).
Noiach is amazed by his good fortune. A shtikel nauseous from the ride, and the stench the animals made during the year, but otherwise ok. His spirits are uplifted, but he recognizes that the world as he knew it was over. What to do? He becomes a gardener, plants a vineyard, drinks from its produce, and becomes drunk. In his intoxicated state, he shamefully uncovers himself in his tent. Exactly what that means is avada (certainly) the subject of much debate. Some say that while naked, Noiach’s son, Chom (Ham by the goyim), over 100 years old at this time, saw his father naked, assaulted him, and informed his two brothers of their father’s state. Rachmono litzlon (heaven forbid) and what could be worse? The brothers, Sheim and Yophes, modestly approached their father and covered him. When Noiach awakened, he cursed Chom’s son, K’nan, and blessed Sheim and Yophes. Is that all that happened? One would hope so, and so says the heylige Toirah, ober that didn’t avada stop many from positing some other ideas, many on the wild side. In fact, had you suggested any of these possibilities without having the heylige Gemora or Medrish to back you up, you’d be in serious danger of being placed into permanent cherim (excommunication,) or worse. Nu, thankfully the masters who reduced the heylige Gemora to writing, and others who wrote medroshim that are today very popular and still acceptable, though one has to question for how long, had vivid imaginations, and here’s some of what they had to say, shreklich (frightening) as it sounds and is.
Noiach planted a vineyard, drank the wine it produced, and became shikker? When did all this happen? Lommer lernin veyter please, and halt kup (pay attention). Avada after you get done with this week’s Toirah, you’ll mistama run out and buy yourselves a set of Mikrois Gedoilois which has even more information. Nu, mitoich sheh loi lishmo, bo lishmo, if you chap.
Says the Medrish (Tanchuma): And Noiach began to be a man of the earth, and he planted a vineyard (9:20). When Noiach took to planting, Satan came and stood before him and said to him: “What are you planting?” Said he: “A vineyard.” Said Satan to him: “What is its nature?” Said he: “Its fruits are sweet, whether moist or dry, and one makes from them wine which brings joy to the heart.” Said Satan to Noiach “Do you desire that we should plant it together, you and I?” Said Noiach : “Yes.” Shoin, Noiach had a partner in the wine gisheft, and so gishikt (proficient) was this new dynamic duo, that on the very day Noiach and his shutiff (partner) planted his vineyard, it bore fruit which he put into the wine-press, drew off the juice, drank it, became drunken, and was dishonored—all on one day. What happened next? What did the Satan do? He brought a lamb and slaughtered it over the vine; then he brought a lion, and slaughtered it over it; then he brought a monkey, and slaughtered it over it; then he brought a swine, and slaughtered it over it; and he watered the vine with their blood. Thus he alluded to Noiach -when a person drinks one cup, he is like a lamb, modest and meek. When he drinks two cups, he becomes mighty as a lion and begins to speak with pride, saying: Who compares with me! As soon as he drinks three or four cups he becomes a monkey, dancing and frolicking and profaning his mouth, and knowing not what he does. When he becomes drunk, he becomes a pig, dirtied by mud and wallowing in filth.
Efsher you’re wondering when and where Noiach learned how to make wine? Did he sneak some grape seeds into the Tayvo? Nu, at 600 years of age, one has to assume that Noiach knew quite a bit, including farming, and says the Medrish (Bereishis Rabba 36:4 Midrash Aggada 9:2) : Noiach did indeed sneak a few vine branches into the Tayvo with him. He decided to begin the process of rebuilding the world by planting them. This was his first mistake, for he should have begun planting something more vital for mankind’s existence – wheat, for example. One mistake lead to another: He made wine, had a drink, then another and another. Once drunk, he lost his dignity. The message is that the pleasures of the world are available for us, but we must exercise restraint, and never lose sight of our role as a holy people.
Efsher you’re wondering how many years it took Noiach from planting to harvest to getting drunk, are you? Ober a quick read of these pisukim (verses) gives us a sense of immediacy, it appears that Noiach planted his vineyard, and shortly afterwards was already shikker – omitting the interim years that it takes to develop the vineyard to yield the wine. Is that what happened? Ver veyst, ober says the Medrish (Bereishis Rabah 36azoy): Reb. Chiya Bar Aba said. On the very same day he planted, on that day he drunk and on that day he was disgraced. Now, that’s real productivity!
Avada this isn’t the last time wine will be used before some vilde sex act, and zicher you’ll be glued to your chumish next week when we learn that Loit’s techter (daughters) also used wine to repeatedly seduce their aged father, and for those who want more, pick up the heylige Gemora and learn how Dovid Hamelech (king David), used wine to get Uriah drunk in a vain attempt to induce Uriah to have intercourse with his wife Batsheva, so that Dovid’s adultery and her pregnancy could be concealed. Is it good to be the king or what? Oy vey!!!
Next: Noiach was naked; he was assaulted by a 100 year old son or grandson. There was a sexual encounter? What the hec went down here, and is this why the RBSO chose to save Noiach and his mishpocho? Is this the same Noiach that the RBSO called a tzadik, an appellation reserved for a very select few? What’s taka pshat here? Or don’t you at all care, and only want more color on the schmutz described above, chazerim that you are. Nu, the Oisvorfer will do his best to further illuminate with teachings of the heylige Gemora, the Medrish and Chazal (our wise ones); seemingly they either chapped better or after imbibing some extra kiddush, had more vivid imaginations, efsher both. Is it possible that they were surfing an earlier version of the Internet? Yikes!!
Nu, before we learned that Noiach son’s saw him naked, and what’s taka wrong with walking around the house naked? Were the neighbors going to see him? Weren’t they all dead? Ver veyst? Don’t men innocently see each other naked in the mikveh on a regular basis, and nothing nefarious takes place? Don’t answer that! Some say that while in this state, his grandson, K’nan the minuvil, had a sexual encounter with his grandfather. Others say it was Noiach’s 3rd grade Rebbe. Yet others say, it was his Pirchei or NCSY leader, ver veyst? Whatever, Noiach was bummed out, if you chap, and not a happy camper. When Noiach recovers and pieces together what took place behind his back, if you chap, he bentches (blesses) Sheim and Yophes, and curses Chom, his other son, and his grandson K’nan. No surprises here. Say it’s not so, please, ober seemingly it is. Can you just imagine the scene as Noaich woke up with epes some unusual soreness and realized what happened? Oy myne tieereer kinderlach, let’s have a family meeting. Oh Chom, come here sheyfile (term of endearment). What were you doing behind your father’s back while he was shluffing? Was this the conversation? Ver veyst.
Exactly what happened to Noiach, and who did what, is zicher a mystery, anyone’s guess based only on the writer’s vilde imagination. In other words, it’s all efsher not emes, and Noiach mistama shluffing in the buff with but a shmatta for a cover, had become uncovered when he rolled over in his sleep. The precise nature of what Chom the minuvil did while in the tent remains obscure. And taka says the Radak: his offense was solely to see his father uncovered (and his willingness to share that information with his brothers). Ober our Chazal in the heylige Gemora went much further than what is explicit in the text. They suggested that in fact either Chom castrated Noiach, or he engaged in homosexual relations with Noiach (an alternative form of “uncreation”), and then castrated him, none sound very pleasant; kiddush anyone? B’kitzur (in short): one said that Chom castrated Noiach, and the other that he only sodomized him- mamish a tzadik; can you imagine a better son and grandson – such yiddishe nachas! The Gemora says that both Rav and Shmuel were inebriated when they argued p’shat here, and states empathically that both happened. Chom the minuvil mamish sodomized and castrated his father. Nice! And the next time your dad gives you some lip, remind him what a good son you are compared to Chom and his son K’nan.
The failure to interpret Chom’s offense as simple voyeurism (itself but efsher a misdemeanor), and the interpretation that something more drastic occurred, is supported by the verse “And Noiach awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him.” Clearly, something beyond simple peeking had to have occurred.
And says another source: Chom in fact committed an incestuous act with Noach’s wife (his mother). Come again? The rationales for this interpretation are several. First, the wording of “uncover nakedness” is only used in Sefer Vayikra (Liviticus) to describe heterosexual incest, not the homosexual act. And more specifically, Vayikra 18:8 equates “the nakedness of your mother” with the “nakedness of your father.” As well, if Chom engaged in incestuous sex with his mother, the text’s emphasis on his son K’nan becomes clear. K’nan is the product of this incestuous union, as Moiov and Ammon are the product of Loit and his daughters. That is why the text consistently identifies Chom as the “father of K’nan,” and why Noiach chooses to curse K’nan upon awakening. Are you chapping all this? Is this what you think happened to our hero Noiach, nebech?
The Toirah also alludes to the possibility that this occurred in Chom’s mother’s tent, chutzpah mamish. Chom’s act of sleeping mit di mama (with his mother) would therefore be seen as an act of rebellion against Noiach’s authority, you think?
What happened here? The world was destroyed; even the foundations were gone after hot lava wiped all away, and Noiach made wine? Wasn’t he in the mood for sushi? Isn’t everyone? The RBSO just told him he could have chicken and even steak, and he wanted wine? What gives here, what’s p’shat? By the way, it’s taka emes that following the Mabul, Noiach was given permission to enjoy meat.
A medrish relates that Chom and his wife were the only couple, human or animal, to cohabit while on the Tayva. Mistama she liked seamen, if you chap. All the other “survivors” remained celibate until emerging from the Tayva one year from the start of the Mabul. Furthermore, K’nan was conceived during that year while on the Tayva, talk about rocking the boat. Another heylige Gemora in Sanhedrin (108b) states that the previous medrish is not the entire story: that three copulated in the Tayva and all were punished. Taka who? The dog, the raven, and Chom the minuvil. How the heylige Gemora knew that the dog and the raven had relations in the Tayva, nu, this I don’t know; was the raven ‘singing like a bird’?
Chazal in Beireishis Rabba states that Chom’s descendants were the original tinkele (colored people), ver veyst? The miforshim add that Chom’s punishment was a darkening of the skin. Can you imagine such a gifeliche (terrible) punishment? How many hours have you laydigeyers (oisvorfs) sat in the sun schmearing lotions all over yourselves trying to darken your skin? This was the punishment for having sex in the Tayva? Oif mir gizugt. Nu, if only tanning was so easy.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, and perhaps safe to go back into the water……. in the very next aliya we read the story of the Tower of Babel. Noiach’s descendents gathered in the Babylonian valley and started building a tower in an attempt to reach the heavens, and battle the RBSO. What were they thinking? The RBSO wasn’t at all happy with their behavior and again meted out swift punishment. He confused their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.
Alas all is not lost. As Parshas Noiach concludes, Avram (later Abraham), is introduced, and the tide begins to turn for the better.
And before I go…an excellent vort the Oisvorfer heard some years back but can’t recall the source. Rashi, in discussing whether or not Noiach was a truly righteous person states azoy: Yesh Meraboysaynu (a number of Rabbis) state the he was really a good guy- V’yesh shedorshin Oisi lignay (others say he wasn’t all that good.) Notice the words: when it mentions that he was good, the words used are Yesh Meraboysaynu- a number of our Rabbis. The word Raboysaynu is missing when it mentions that ‘others’ say that Noiach wasn’t all that good. Said my chaver: those speaking loshoin horo about Noiach are not called Rabbis! If only that were emes…
A gitten shabbis- happy sailing!
The Oisvorfer Ruv