We all know the story - the animals came in two by two, it rained for forty days and nights, the waters receded, the dove returned with an olive branch, Noah left the Ark, and a rainbow appeared. But what happened next? The Torah records that Noah gets drunk and disrobes.
At the end of a stressful working day there can be nothing quite as relaxing as sitting back with a not-so-wee dram of Scotland's finest. When we complete a large project or mark a significant milestone, it's traditional to celebrate with a drink or two. Our society, including our own community, is often awash with alcohol - after all, the Talmud suggests that "there is no joy without wine".
So who can blame Noah for celebrating a job well done, for toasting the survival of his family, or possibly for drowning his sorrows while he recalled a world destroyed? Maybe, with his life's work complete, he compensated by hitting the bottle. Whether a one-off mistake, or the result of an addiction, the inebriated Noah exposes himself and becomes the subject of his son, Ham's, joke. There are several other drunken biblical figures - Lot and Nabal are classic examples.
This month there are various campaigns to encourage moderation, including Stoptober and Sober October. In our synagogues and families there may be people with alcohol related challenges who are struggling. Perhaps, for this Shabbat Noach, they need to know that there are others at the kiddush who, in solidarity with them, are passing over the whisky or Palwin's and reaching for the grape juice.