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Where'd Ya Get That Stuff?

Apr 27, 2010 by Rabbi Siegel

Wine appears up in all types of interesting places.

The Torah relates, that when the city of Sodom was overturned, Lot ran to the mountains, together with his two unwed daughters. Hiding in a cave, they were unaware of the limited extent of the destruction. The world had come to an end, and they are the only ones left alive. Together, the daughters hatched a plan to rebuild the world from fresh. They would start anew, with children born from their own father. But Lot would never willingly consent. They gave him wine to drink and in his inebriated state, he collaborated with them. The Medrash questions, “From whence came the wine?” A wellspring of wine opened up for them inside the cave, just as it will come to pass in the time of Olam Haba.

They required wine, Hashem provided it for them. It was a miracle. But … why is their wellspring the same one that will spurt forth in the time of Olam Haba? Wouldn’t ordinary wine have sufficed? Of what significance is this?

In addition:

Yaakov sought his father Yitzchak Avenu’s blessing. He disguised himself, and brought his father meat delicacies and wine. His mother, Rivka, provided him with the portions of meat. Where did the wine come from? From the angel Micha’el. He brought it to Yaakov from Eden. Ordinary wine would not suffice. It had to be wine from Gan Eden. This is a mystery.

And finally:

Yosef Hatzadik, upon sending his brothers back to Eretz Yisroel, sent them with the totality of all that is good in Mitzrayim. He sent ten donkeys laden with aged wine. Aged wine settles the minds of the elderly.  It is revealed in the seforim hakedoshim (1) that it indeed was ancient wine, very ancient. It was from the time of the six days of creation. Only this spirit would sooth the troubled mind of Yaakov Avenu.

What was so unique about this wine, the wine of Gan Eden? Ordinary wine is made by releasing the fruity pulp from the bland skin of the grape, and then allowing it to ferment. Inevitably some of the flavor will dissipate. The wine of Gan Eden is constantly fermenting within the confines of the skin of the host grapes. It is contained within the original grapes fashioned from the hand of the Creator. These grapes had no human hand in their growth. It is totally pure, uncontaminated by this world. (We see, from the viewpoint of Jewish law, how careful we must be, even with mundane wine. We must be on constant alert, never allowing it to come in contact with the impure contact of the idol worshipper).

Not only is it pure, it is potent. The taste of undiluted wine is so powerful, it can cause injury. Imagine the potency of a wine that has never seen the light of day for thousands of years, exponentially brewing stronger and stronger within its skin.

Picture for a moment, if one took all the taste and flavor that the world has to offer and concentrated it into a single cup of wine. In our present limited existence, it would be unpalatable. We can only relate to taste that has limits. Unlimited taste is beyond our present capability to experience.

This is the wine of Gan Eden. But it not only contains all the flavor of this world. It contains within it the delights of the World to Come. It contains all. It is exactly in the same pristine state that it was from the six days of creation.

The original sin of Adam and Chava in the Garden of Eden was wrought through tainted wine. Into it, the snake of Gan Eden injected his poisonous influence. He enticed Chava to partake of the wine, thus violating the will of her Creator. She gave of it to her husband, and he drank as well. The wine of the snake is the antithesis of the wine of Gan Eden. It embodies taking all the flavor of this world and removing it from the will of the Creator.

From that moment on, we, who are born of the partakers of this poisonous brew, have a foreign influence within. But, we are not tainted, sullied, or impure. That is just a façade. It is a thin coating of dust, which can be rinsed off. Our task is to delve deep inside and find our true selves.

Let us return to Yosef Hatzadik. The children of our father Yaakov were about to enter a new existence. They were to immerge themselves in the snake pit called Egypt. It would appear as if they would be engulfed and their innate goodness swallowed up for all time. But it wasn’t so. They retained their purity among the depths of depravity, like the wine fermenting within the grapes. This was Yosef’s message to his father Yaakov. We are likened to the wine protected within the husks of the grapes. Thus, our true essence is untouchable. We still retain the purity of the six days of creation, where all in existence was fashioned and formed by the hand of the Creator. The mind of Yaakov was settled.

And now to Lot and his daughters. From the depths of depravity, from an undoable act between a father and his issue, can come Ruth, the great grandmother of King David, and progenitor of the Messiah. There is a purity hidden beneath the semblance of impurity. It is only through their act that the world can return to its pristine form. Lot, through his descendants, is instrumental in closing the circle, in linking the future of our world, Olam HaBa, with the six days of creation. In returning the world to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, saying, “We have been faithful caretakers. We have strayed, but we have never lost sight of our true selves. Thus, we were able to return, and present the Creator with the existence that He had in mind from the very beginning.” ….. And, so, the wine miraculously appears.

Eisav and Yaakov were vying for their father, Yitzchak’s blessing. The fate of the world hung in the balance. Eisav was claiming the world for the “wine of the snake”, rending asunder all of creation from G-d’s will. He sought his father’s blessing for this undertaking. When Yaakov entered Yitzchak’s presence, the aroma of Gan Eden entered with him. He was not seeking to claim the world for himself. He sought to return all that is flavorful and good in this world to the one who formed it. Thus, the wine of Gan Eden came to him through heavenly means to assist him.

The happiness that wine brings when drunk in the proper spirit is the joy of coming into contact with one’s true unblemished self. (2)

In the time of our redemption, King David will raise up an overflowing cup of salvation. May it come speedily in our days.

(1) Sefer Machshavos Charutz

(2) Ari Z’L

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