"And Noah began to he a husbandman and he planted a vineyard" (Gen. IX. 20). In their comments on these words, Rabbi Jehuda and Rabbi Jose greatly differed, the one affirming
that Noah planted a vine taken from the garden of Eden, the other maintaining that he had plucked it by its roots before entering the ark73a-73b and now planted it in suitable soil, after which it brought forth grades, the juice of which after expressing, he drank and became intoxicated therewith.
Said Rabbi Simeon: In this verse is included a fragment of the hidden wisdom. When Noah, desirous of investigating into the cause of man's fall from his primal state of holy innocence. not with the intention of imitating it but of healing the sin of the world, he soon realized his inability to achieve his object. He then pressed the juice of the vine in order to ascertain the natural properties of it, or in other words, he speculated deeply upon the nature of the Divine Being. His intellectual faculties soon became exhausted and he was as one puzzled and drunken with thought, and therefore we read 'He drank of the wine and was drunken and lay uncovered in his tent' (Gen. IX. 21), that is, on lifting only a corner of the veil that hides divine mysteries from human gaze and catching a glimpse of what is never revealed and imparted save only to the enlightened and pure in heart, he became mentally stupefied, confused and overwhelmed with the sublimity and grandeur of the noumenal world so transcendently beyond all human cognition and comprehension. This occurred as stated in his own tent (bethok oholoh) the latter word of which written with a final H, which is a feminine pronominal suffix giving it the same meaning as in the verse. 'Remove thy way from her (mesleyah) and come not nigh the door of her house (bethah) (Prov. V. 8), from which we learn that the words 'within his tent' refer mystically to the tent of the wine, or more explicitly still, to divine mysteries. Furthermore we know from tradition that the sin of the sons of Aaron was that of intoxication, arising not from the indulgence in wine and strong drink, for how was it possible that anyone should bring them intoxicants to drink within the sanctuary even were they so void of all shame as to desire them. Truly their inebriety was not owing to drinking wine but from the abuse of the mystical knowledge of which we have just spoken and of which scripture states metaphorically, 'They offered strange fire (ash zarah) before the Lord which he commanded them not' (Lev. X. 1). The words 'strange fire' have here the same significance as, 'That they may keep thee from the strange woman (ashah zarah), from the stranger that flattereth with her words' (Prov. VII. 5).
[paragraph continues] This then was the kind of drunkenness indulged in by Noah as stated and he drank of the wine and was drunken and he was 'uncovered in his tent.' This fatuous act of spiritual inebriation enabled his son Ham, the father of Canaan, to acquire certain. esoteric knowledge and occult powers as we have before explained, that endowed and invested him with a potency to exercise sway and domination over others, for knowing that Noah was a just and perfect man and that his holiness arose from his chastity, he wickedly deprived him as tradition informs us73b of his virile power by the infliction of eunichism. Through this heinous indignity committed upon him it was that Noah said, 'Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,' as aforetime it had been said to the serpent, 'Cursed art thou above all the beasts of the field.' Eventually at the end of the ages, the erring, the sinful and guilty will be saved and become children of the light, but not Canaan whose irreversible doom is absolute and certain perdition and final extinction a fact not unknown to those initiated in the teachings of the secret doctrine. It is written, 'I acknowledge my transgression and my sin is ever before me' (Ps. LI. 5). How cautious and ever watchful should every man be, that he sin not before the Holy One, lest Cain-like he become branded with a mark that can only be effaced after long years of protracted penance and suffering as stated in scripture, 'For though thou wash thyself with nitre and take thee much soap, yet is thine iniquity marked before me saith the Lord God' (Jer. II. 22). Observe that when a man transgresses for the first time before the holy One, his fault is distinguished on high by a mark which, after a second repetition of it, becomes more visible and noticed, but on his further and continuous persistency in evil doing, it abides on him and remains ineffaceable, as it is written, 'Thou shalt he soiled with thy iniquity before me.' Note further that when David had sinned in acquiring Bathsheba for his wife, he became exceedingly afraid that the mark upon him would abide forever. The prophet wishing to comfort him said unto him, 'the Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die' (II. Sam. XII. 13) meaning that the mark on high had become effaced."