Birthright and Alcohol

[Editor’s note: Originally published February 16, 2011 on Eye of the Treiger under the name ‘Quality Wines’. The new title is part of a strategy known as FBO: Facebook Optimization. I’m in the process of streamlining, and because this is about a Birthright trip – not Nepal – it lives here now. This is the third and final post I intend to relocate.]


The Golan winery serves free alcohol. Since that appeals to both demographic constituencies of this trip – ‘young adult’ and ‘Jewish’ – there was no way we weren’t going.  When you enter the building, the first thing you see is a wall in the middle of the room dedicated to a single quote:

וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ, אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה; וַיִּטַּע, כָּרֶם

The most honest thing about the way this quote was selected is the hanging colon (which sounds like a disease Colbert would dream up).

Yes, the quote associates planting a vineyard with a famous biblical figure — but it is also conveniently selective. If you don’t know the whole story, here’s a brief selection from Wikipedia on Noah:

Noah was the first to plant a vineyard, and he drank himself drunk, and was uncovered within his tent. (Genesis 9:20–21) Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers. (Genesis 9:22) Shem and Japheth placed a cloth against both their backs and, walking backward, covered their father, without seeing their father’s nakedness. (Genesis 9:23) When Noah woke up and learned what Ham had done to him, he cursed Ham’s son Canaan to become the lowest of slaves to Japheth and Shem, prayed that God enlarge Japheth, and blessed the God of Shem. (Genesis 9:24–27)

And for the juicy backstory, here’s a bit from Wikipedia on Ham:

Ham was “blessed” in Genesis 9:1 – Noah did not curse him directly.

The Talmud deduces two possible explanations (attributed to Rab and Rabbi Samuel) for what Ham did to Noah to warrant the curse. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 70a.) According to Rab, Ham castrated Noah on the basis that, since Noah cursed Ham by his fourth son Canaan, Ham must have injured Noah with respect to a fourth son. Emasculating him thus deprived Noah of the possibility of a fourth son. According to Samuel, Ham sodomized Noah, on the analogy between “and he saw” written in two places in the Bible: With regard to Ham and Noah, it says, “[22] And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. [23] And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:20-27 – while in Genesis 34:2, it says, “And when Shechem the son of Hamor saw her (Dinah), he took her and lay with her and defiled her.” According to this argument, similar abuse must have happened each time that the Bible uses the same language.

The Talmud concludes that, in fact, “both indignities were perpetrated.”[citation needed]

This last explanation being, of course, the only reasonable one.


One thought on “Birthright and Alcohol”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s