After Noach left the ark, “Noach began to be a man of the soil and he planted the vineyard. He drank of the wine and was intoxicated. He then uncovered himself in his tent (Breisheet 9:20-21).”
According to Radak, before the flood people ate grapes, but wine had not yet been invented. The story of Noach getting drunk from drinking the wine that he produced as well as the aftermath warns us to be careful when drinking wine as one can lose their mind while drunk, become confused and act crazy.
Radak proves his point by adding a quote by King Solomon from Mishlei (Proverbs 23:20-35) “Do not be among the guzzlers of wine…Whose eyes are red? Those who linger over wine, those who come to inquire over mixed drinks. Do not look at wine becoming red, for to one who fixes his eyes on the goblet all paths are upright. His end is like one bitten by a snake, like one dispatched by a serpent. Your eyes will see strange things and your heart will speak duplicates. And you will be like one who sleeps in the heart of the sea, like one who lies on top of a mast. In your drunkenness you will say: “They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me but I was unaware. When will I awaken? I will continue asking for more wine!”
Radak adds that the prophets Yishayahu and Amos also spoke out against people who drink too much and get drunk and concludes that the Torah recounts this negative story about Noach being the first person to drink wine and get drunk and confused in order to warn us about the dangers of drinking too much wine.
Rabbi Avraham Yaakov of Sedugora, Ukraine (1820-1883) said that sometimes drinking wine is a mitzvah, but on every mitzvah there is also the prohibition of “bal tosif”, do not add to the mitzvah.
Last week, we celebrated Simchat Torah and unfortunately many people in synagogues throughout the world drank more than they should have and ended up desecrating the holiday rather than rejoicing in it. Let’s learn a lesson from Noach’s embarrassment and try to keep the drinking to a minimum and in good taste.