In Breisheet Chapters 8-9, after Noach, his family and the animals survived the flood and departed from the ark, Noach built an altar and brought burnt offerings. God was happy with the sacrifices and promised that He would never curse the ground again because of man and that He would never smite every living thing. He then blessed Noach and his family to be fruitful and multiply. He made a covenant that a flood will never destroy the earth. The rainbow is the sign of the covenant.
Then, in Breisheet 9:20-21, we read: “Noach began to be a man of the soil and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and was intoxicated. He then uncovered himself in his tent.”
What happened to Noach? Did he get drunk in order to escape from the experience of seeing the world destroyed?
Dr. Bryna Levy in her book Waiting for Rain explains that “there is a parallel that can be drawn between the destruction of the world in the time of Noach and the annihilation during the Shoah (Holocaust). Indeed, the history of Biblical exegesis suggests that Noach’s fate may be universalized to the experience of all survivors of catastrophe.”
It is amazing how many Holocaust survivors were able to move on and rebuild their lives, but that can’t be taken for granted after everything that they went through.
One example of a Holocaust survivor who was able to move on and never gave up hope was Noach Klieger who passed away this past year at the age of 92.
After surviving Auschwitz, Noach Klieger became a member of the crew of the SS Exodus attempting to bring Holocaust survivors illegally into pre-State Israel. In 1948, he made aliya and fought in the War of Independence. He worked in journalism and covered the Eichmann and Demjanjuk trials. He was a frequent lecturer and he went back to visit Auschwitz every year. He was a father and grandfather and wrote for the Yediot Acharonot newspaper until the day that he passed away.
Both Noach from our parsha and Noach Klieger dealt with their experiences differently.
They both got on boats and did what they could to rebuild the world.
May we gain inspiration from the stories of both Noach’s and be careful not to judge others as we have no idea what they may have been through.