Noah’s Drunkeness and Technology Addiction

What can parhsat Noah teach us about dependency on or even addiction to technology? After the mabul, when Noah emerges from the tevah, he makes a bad choice. He plants a vineyard and gets drunk. Commentaries discuss the meaning of this story. Perhaps it is to teach us something about the nature of dependency and addictions in our lives. Drunkenness leads to Noah’s downfall. The midrash and Rashi take note of the unnecessary word “vayahel,” which literally means he began, but is also related to the word hullin – things which are profane, not holy. Noah stepped out into the world after the flood and should have planted something positive, a tikkun. He planted for his personal benefit, not for the sake of reviving the world.The Torah generally does not view complete rejection of wine as the ideal, but rather drinking in moderation and with positive purpose, such as kiddush. In Bamidbar, some commentaries point out that the nazir (who refrains from alcohol) brings a sin-offering to teach that shutting oneself off from alcohol or enjoyment completely is not the Torah ideal. The Ramban states that the Torah includes Noah’s story as a warning, more severe than that of the Nazir. The Torah allows for moderate drinking, but also raises awareness of the dangers of addiction and urges us to be mindful of this. One of the ways dependency and addictive behavior is expressing itself today is through technology. When used moderately and positively it can connect us to others and be a blessing, but excessive use can lead to unhappiness and isolation. The story of Noah’s vineyard reminds us to check in with ourselves and our children and evaluate our relationship with technology and social media and make sure it is being used well. Shabbat Shalom!

* photo from movie “The Social Dilemma”

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