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Noah in rabbinic literature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Allusions in rabbinic literature to the Biblical character Noah, who saved his family and representatives of all the animals from a great flood by constructing an ark, contain various expansions, elaborations and inferences beyond what is presented in the text of the Bible itself.

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  • ✪ Natalie Portman and Yuval Noah Harari in Conversation
  • ✪ Yuval Harari: "Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets" | Talks at Google
  • ✪ Apocalypticism and the Recent Past in Second Temple Literature and the New Testament
  • ✪ Hebrew Poetry - Free Psalms Bible Study
  • ✪ Yhwh, a God of the Wilderness: A Biblical and Extrabiblical Investigation


- Our speakers really don't need any introduction, so I'm really actually not going to give them an introduction, but just to say that it is a great privilege of this job that every now and again we get to bring together people who have not met, but who have admired each other from afar for a long time, and that is certainly the case for this evening. Natalie Portman, as you all know, is an award-winning, Academy award-winning actress. She's also an environmentalist, very deeply committed one, and a Harvard alumni. Her credentials in many, many fields run very deep. Yuval Harari's books have sold absolutely millions. We are so delighted that there's a new one. Another treat of reading that lies in store for all of you. Without further ado please give them the most enormous welcome to Natalie Portman, and Yuval Noah Harari. (audience applauding) - Thank you, thank you. I'm so honored to be here talking to you, and thank you for pouring me water, gentlemanly. So we talked about how the most sort of obvious connection between us, may be for other people, would be that we both were born in Israel. So I'm interested in how you think your origins have influenced you as a historian, as a thinker. - I think we were both born in the myth factory of the world, like a place that specializes introducing extremely powerful stories for good and for bad. And when you live in such a place, you just cannot ignore the enormous power of the human imagination, the enormous power of stories to move the world. So I guess that, you know, maybe I would have written the same books even if I had been born in Australia or China maybe not, but certainly I think that living in a place where at least recently people have been killing each other by the millions over fictional stories makes you see the world in a very particular way. - No absolutely, and that aspect of fiction has so much to do with what you talk about and of course what I do in filmmaking telling stories. And I'm interested in what you think the role of fiction is in history and historical, in the way you put things together too. - Well now certainly Hollywood is competing with the Holy Land for the title of the main story factory of the world, and it's almost as powerful. And yeah I mean it's really my perception is that in the end the economists and the engineers, and the soldiers, they are very often just working to realize something that came up in the mind of some poet. And this is also why there is so, I think there is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of poets and screenwriters and actors and artists that you think that oh we just entertain people, but this is not the case. It goes much, much more deeply. It provides the kind of scaffolding for people to make sense of their individual lives and of their collective lives and good stories create a very good world and problematic stories create a very problematic world, and the human ability to create fictions on the one hand is responsible for all our amazing achievements as a species, but also to so much harm that we have done to ourselves and that we have done to other animals that as far as we know I would say one of the main differences as far as we know between us and the other animals that they can't create these kinds of fictions but their lives and death is often determined by the stories that this particular ape species is able to tell and believe. - Can you talk more about how you think that that storytelling has made us survive or how that has helped humans to thrive? Like how's it been a survival tool? Storytelling? - It simply enables cooperation. I mean the key issue is how do you get complete strangers to trust one another. Trust one another enough in order to cooperate and to cooperate can mean to build a prison or to build an army or to build a hospital or to build a school. In all cases you're dealing with lots of strangers cooperating towards a common goal, and the trust is again in the end trust is always based on believing in the same story, so thousands of years ago, two strangers meet in the jungle, and they want to trade instead of fight. So they don't know each other, so how do you trust somebody you don't know. You realize that you're actually family. You have some mythical ancestor that hey your ancestor is also my ancestor. So we are actually both, we are both descendants of Abraham. We have the same ancestor. We are actually brother and sister and once you get over that hurdle we are not now strangers. I mean in reality we are strangers. We don't know anything about each other, but in our imagination we are brothers and sister. We belong to the same family, and then we can trust, and if this sounds very, very primitive then you just need to take out the currency notes of most countries today in the world, and you will see the same thing, the same ancestors. Like if in the United States so you go to a supermarket and you meet a stranger, we don't know this person and you want to buy bread or bananas or whatever. And you take out this piece of paper, hey you see this ancestors George Washington these, you know, we are the same. And because we both believe in the same story, we can trust each other and it works. And it works when the story comes from the Holy Land about Jesus and God and whatever, and it can work when the story comes from Hollywood. And you know it's not a coincidence that now that I travel a lot around the world and when you meet somebody very often we try to look for a TV series that we both watched. Hey I also watched it. So suddenly we kind of like, you know we have some common story together and it breaks the ice. - What's the difference between a story that people believe in and a story that people just watch and know is fictional, but relate to in some way like a TV show in terms of like a connecting tissue. - There is no clear line. I mean the the whole thing works by being a bit opaque, by being a bit cloudy and misty and unclear. When we think about it kind of retroactively or philosophically, we think that the world is divided quite clearly into, okay there is fiction and there is reality but usually they just get mixed together, and when you watch a movie so for 90 minutes if the movie is good, you forget it's just a fictional story. If you constantly remember hey it's just a fictional story it's just actors, they rehearse this scene 50 times and shoot it again and again and again. And then stitched it together and then it's not a good movie. You are not really getting caught up in the story, and it's the same with something like football. To really enjoy it you need to forget for again at least 90 minutes that you know this is just fictional rules that who said, that the most important thing is to get the ball into into the goal, who said? If you think like that you won't enjoy football. So you need to, you know the suspension of disbelief it's like the first thing that they teach in almost any art school or any school about literature. It's suspension of disbelief. - Yeah it's always mysterious to me in literature that when there's a fictional book that seems too autobiographical, everyone says oh it's just she's writing about herself. It's not really fiction and then when there's a story that's nonfiction, but it doesn't totally adhere to facts people say oh they're straying from it, and it's like of course everything is some version of fiction. - I remember I think it was in the UK a couple of years ago, there was this huge outcry. They wanted to stage something from Harry Potter, like the Harry Potter theater show or something, and they wanted to have a black person playing Hermione. And there was this huge outcry "No you can't do that. "Hermione is white." And people went over I think the entire seven volumes, it's seven right? - [Natalie] I think. - The entire seven volumes and they found one place, just one place where the text indicates clearly that something about Hermione hiding in the woods on a moonlit night and the moon rays fall upon her white skin, something like that, they found the one place in the entire seven volumes that and no you have to stick with reality. You don't mind people flying on broomsticks. You don't mind you know all these things, but no, no, no she has to be white. (Natalie laughs) - Yeah I love, you write in the book about how certain religions tend toward choosing specific facts from their texts. That if you look in old Jewish texts for example you can find very erotic passages and even images in-- - [Yuval] In synagogues. - In synagogues and yet current religious Judaism is all about female modesty. Why do you think that so many religions, so many people within different religions tend toward the conservative facts as opposed to the evidence that they can find in the past that is more loose or open sexually, morally whatever. - It's a kind of arms race that everybody wants to be like more orthodox and more pious than the other, and there is this tendency to think that the most strict I am the closer I am to God somehow. But he's very strict. So you see along the centuries that you draw a line and then you draw a line just behind it, just to be on the safe side. So nobody crosses this line. We will draw another line just on and it gets you know like with, as you said in the ancient in ancient synagogues that were excavated by archeologists, you often find images of women on the floors in mosaics and on the walls. I mean today in at least in orthodox synagogues in Israel, it would be blasphemous and sacrilege to have any, I mean in many religious neighborhoods you can't even have, when you have advertisements it's only men and boys. Like there was a famous case that they made advertisement for a new neighborhood or something. So you know you have these new houses and then happy families and the happy families it was just men and boys. Because you can't show, not only in the synagogue, you can't show, and when you go back 2000 years to the rabbis who wrote the Mishnah and the Talmud, they prayed in synagogues with images of women on the floor and on the walls, and so yes you have this escalating arms race. - And you talk also about, you write about the use of metaphor in religion compared to meditative practice where you talk about breath is breath as opposed to in religion the wafer is Christ's body or the salt water and Passover for Jews is the tears of slaves where there's so much metaphor. Why do you feel that the sort of literalism appreciating the thing for the thing it is is more helpful for you in meditation than its kind of comparison and religion? - Well in the meditation practice, at least the meditation I practice is really about just being able to observe reality as it is to really tell the difference, what is real and what is just stories and fictions and metaphors generated by my mind or by somebody else's mind, but you know people sometimes pass their entire lives just within metaphors and fictions and never getting a real glimpse of reality, and also I think leaving aside the meditation practice as a story and I kind of developed a horror of metaphors because what often happens to metaphors in history they get solidified and rarefied and become a thing itself and people forget where they came from. To give an example like you know, in religion so people talk about salvation and redemption and eternity, but what is eternity? What is salvation? It's too difficult for most people to grasp and certainly to attain so you have a metaphor, you have say a building, a temple, a mosque, the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall which stands as a metaphor for eternity, as a metaphor for salvation and people would go to the temple and okay so you have a place standing in for this abstract very difficult to grasp notion of eternity or for salvation, but what happens next? People forget it's just a metaphor. They rarefy the metaphor. The temple really is salvation. The temple really is eternity and then what do you want to do? You want to possess eternity. Suddenly you can. If I can just get hold or conquer this pile of stones I have eternity. I have salvation and then people start fighting over these things, forgetting that hey this was just a metaphor. Don't take it so serious. And it happened thousands of years ago. It happens today, but you know the essence of holy places like temples or synagogues or like the place we are here right now, is in the end it's about the human experience. It's the idea that you go to a place and you experience peace like we have a lot of anger in your life, you have a lot of irritation in your life or hate or whatever and there is a place that you can go and experience peace and feel better about yourself and also be better to other people. And this is like you know the essential idea of a temple or a mosque or a synagogue, but then what happens is that some of these places become factories of hatred. Instead of going there and experiencing peace people start fighting over these places you know which is very strange because you know this is a dysfunctional temple. Like you have a car factory that doesn't produce cars. You don't want it. So you have a peace factory which for some reason produces wars and you don't want this factory. It's broken. - There's there's a thing in psychology that you probably have heard about where people who are depressed are more realistic. Like if you tell them a story, they will recount it more accurately and people who are not depressed tend to change the story to make it more optimistic. Make things better so there's kind of this thing about how like being unrealistic actually is a way to make yourself happier. Do you find that taking reality as reality what you're talking about seeing stones as stones and breath is breath is a bleaker vision of the world? - It takes out some of the color yes, but it brings back I think more than it takes away because in the end you know the greatest mysteries in the world we experience them every day. Consciousness is probably the greatest mystery in the universe. And it's not some special experience of place or whatever. Just to understand pain, to understand irritation to understand the experience of boredom, if we could really understand that this is the most interesting and the most amazing thing we know about in the entire universe, is this really miracle of consciousness and so I don't think I'm really giving up on the big things of the world or of the universe. Yeah there is a tendency of the big things to be eventually very banal that I don't know, I was a specialist in the Crusades. This was like my first when I began my career as a historian my special field was crusades, crusader history. And I kept reading these chronicles about the first crusade in 1096, all these knights in shining armor leaving Europe to go to the Holy Land and conquer Jerusalem. And they had these millenarian expectations that when we will get to Jerusalem the most amazing thing in the world will happen like the end of time, the second coming of whatever. And eventually it was just so banal like they fought and they killed and they died for four terrible years and endured terrible hunger and sieges and battles and eventually conquered Jerusalem, and slaughtered all its population and reached the holy places and you know it was just like any other day. They woke up next day, they ate breakfast, they fought with one another. Somebody had stomach ache. It was just so banal. - The use of fiction backs that in telling history and being a historian is and I wonder if you ever intentionally use it to make points more clear. Like for example someone told me I studied psychology in school so excuse me if many of my examples are from psychology, but Oliver Sacks the sort of popular psychologist, some of his case studies, one of my professors told me, are not realistic, like there's one example of someone who has a disorder that they can't, they kind of recognize things from their shape, and they mistake a fire hydrant for a child. And they said that would never happen because you could still see the shape move and if something's not moving they would know it's not a child. It's completely unrealistic and they approached Sachs about it and he said of course but you give an example that's so clear that people remember it and it stays more clearly in their mind so for medical students it's a much better example even if it's not really factually accurate because they'll remember that when they're diagnosing someone, they'll be like oh the fire hydrant. Now is there any equivalent in what you do where you shape something that might have a little fiction that you acknowledge but it's a clearer way to round your point? - There is always the temptation because it works very well. To a certain extent yes I do it all the time all historians do it all the time, because we use stories and reality is just not built like a story. If you just try to tell reality as it is then you end up I don't know James Joyce writing Ulysses like the stream-of-consciousness and a million things happening and nobody can, almost nobody can finish the book. Or remember what is happening. It's just our fortune and misfortune as a species that we think in stories, so if you want to make a point you have to take the messiness of reality and cast it as a story. Otherwise people don't understand, and we have now all these you know discussions about for example climate change, that how to make the general public understand what is happening, what is the enormity of the crisis we are facing. What is the evidence supporting it, what should we do? And the problem is that scientists, including climate scientists, they think in facts, in numbers, in statistics, in equations, in graphs, all the things that make most people like fall asleep. Or just not get it. If you really want to make the public understand climate change, you need a story. So from this perspective it's almost inevitable, and even again you don't, I mean there is a step further, which I try to avoid as much as possible, which in order to make the story a little better let's invent some of the facts. Let's change some of the facts because it serves a good cause, and it will be a better story, a more memorable story, and this is a constant temptation that I can't promise that I never seen but I try not to. I try if the story is complicated so okay so it will be a bit more complicated. - Well one of the things that has most impacted me from your writing was an article that you wrote for the Guardian that is also a chapter in 21 Questions. About the Theater of Terrorism. And I bring it up in every Times Up meeting that I go to. Because I was really surprised and completely shifted my perspective to see how you showed that the spectacle of 9/11 was the Twin Towers coming down and not the Pentagon, which was the more classical military you know target that was hit that day. But the spectacle, this visual, this image was so powerful across the world and then using something like that for positives, for something like climate change like how can we use that concept of spectacle and how impactful it is in today's day and age in a positive way as opposed to obviously a destructive way. - Yes so you know you have the polar bear on this iceberg which is the iconic image of climate change. And it's a very powerful image. Now of course climate change is not about polar bears. I mean it's also about them, but it's not the only thing, and still this is that iconic image because again this goes from the birds to the apes. This is how the apes see the world, so you must speak their language, if you just give them a list of statistical facts you lose them. And you know the big advantage of terrorists in the struggle for attention and attention is now may be the most important resource in the world, and you have all these, a lot of the political struggles today in the world, they're actually struggles for attention. And again unfortunately because of our evolutionary background, there is nothing that grabs attention more than violence. So staging a spectacle of violence captures the attention of people of the media more than anything else. This is like the simple insight which underlies the whole phenomena of, the phenomenon of terrorism. And they understood it and they use it. They create a spectacle of violence. They kill a handful of people and make millions fear for their lives. It's extremely effective. It hijacks our brains. It hijacks our own evolutionary mechanisms. - How do you think that is different from state violence? - State violence is very often on a very large scale. You actually sometimes kill millions of people. It's not about, the fear is a by-product, but it's not the main thing. Actually very often it's the opposite. When states use tremendous amount of violence in many cases they try to hide it. No, no, no nothing is happening. Don't look here, don't look here. We don't want reporters. We don't want journalists. Terrorists it's just the opposite. Usually terrorism is the strategy of very weak parties. They can't use violence on a large scale. They would like to, but they just can't. So they have just this spectacle of violence and then they try to call in yes come everybody. Come see, all the journalists, all the reporters, TV camera, oh wonderful come here. We have a spectacle of violence and we want to be in every TV set around the country. So it works very differently. The states are really powerful. Very often, they're really powerful. They don't want to draw attention to their power. - And you write about how, and we've talked a little bit about how the women's movement has achieved this change rather recently without much violence and how unusual that is. What do you think, why do you think that happens so late? Why do you think, I mean obviously there's still far, very far to go, but why do you think that happened so late? And why do you think it was successful without violence? - First we really need to you know to stop a minute and think about the, really the amazing change that the feminist revolution has done over the last century. And we saw little violence, you know you have much much smaller changes in human society during history which required tremendous amounts of violence, and this you know for thousands of years all over the world different religions, cultures, political systems, and one thing is constant, which is the subjugation in oppression of women. It's the patriarchal system. To the degree that many people thought that this is just natural and eternal. It's just the way things are, nothing can change it, and then within a relatively short time historically speaking of a century or two and with very, very little violence a tremendous change has happened. And we don't really understand how to account for it. Partly because we also as scientists as scholars, as historians, we find it difficult to explain the patriarchal system in the first place. Many people think that there are obvious answers to the question why in almost all large-scale human societies, women had a much lower legal and political and economic status than men. And actually we don't have a good theory. - I have one (laughs). I don't know if it's good. Well it seems like it balances out the biological superiority, can I say that? Not superiority but the fact that we're like the center of creation, you're the means of reproduction. (audience laughing) To control the means of reproduction you have to have some sort of balance on that right? - It may be quite obvious why men would like to control women's bodies, women's sexuality. What is not clear is how are they able to do it? Because we have other species including some of our closest relatives in nature the bonobo chimpanzees in which maybe the bonobo males would like to control the female bonobos, but they just can't. In bonobo society, networks of females actually dominate the society. Now lots of people have this very simplistic notion that men are simply stronger physically. So you know it's a no brainer but actually this is a very problematic theory because when you look at human societies, there is no consistent match between physical strength and social and political power. In many cases there is a huge mismatch there like in most societies people in their 50s and 60s and 70s dominate people in their 20s even though people in their 20s are physically stronger. If you look at organizations, whether it's the Catholic Church, whether it's United States, whether it's the Mafia, so very often the Pope is not the strongest Catholic around. It's not like they had this big boxing championship of all the catabolic males in the world, and Francis defeated all the competition, so he's now Pope. Even in criminal organizations very often the the Capo di tutti capi, the big boss he could be a man in his 60s who doesn't go around beating people up but he has the power to tell much younger and stronger men go and kill this guy and they obey. And usually social power depends on social abilities. The ability to build alliances. The abilities to reach compromises with potential allies. The ability to understand what the other person is thinking either in order to reach a deal or in order to beware of a trap and at least according to folk psychology. I will be happy to hear what you think about it, but folk psychology usually argues that women are better than men in all these things like understanding the viewpoint of somebody else, instead of obsessing about what I think and what I want. So if if this is true, and I'm not sure if it's true, but if it is true that women have superior social skills or at least some social skills, it's a very big riddle then why is it that human society is dominated by these self-centered males and not by women with their superior abilities to make alliances and which compromises and so forth because again if you look at bonobo society male bonobos are significantly stronger than female bonobos, but the males don't have strong networks whereas the females have very strong networks, and this is what enables them to dominate the society. - And so no one has come up with any plausible-- - There's an entire industry with theories about the origins of the patriarchal system, and why it has been so robust and long-lasting, and why is it shaking and in the last few decades there is no shortage of theories but there we are very far from having an evidence-based theory, which is accepted by the majority of scholars. - That's, I wanna talk more about that later. You have a really fascinating part of the book that talks about how fake news has kind of always existed. And I'm interested in how you think this sort of biblical fake news that you've sort of touched upon is different than today's kind of intentional misinformation campaigns. - Well misinformation and propaganda have been there throughout history, the means are different. Again religion is an obvious place to go, and even religious people will agree that all religions except one, are fake news. My religion is of course the truth. You go ask a Jew then the Jew will tell you yes Judaism is the truth, but Christianity you know all these stories about Jesus being the Son of God and rising from the dead this is all fake news don't believe that. Then you go to the Christian priest, he will tell you, no, no, no, no, this is honest-to-god truth. But all these stories of the Muslims about Muhammad being visited by the Archangel Gabriel and the Quran being dictated by God and all that this is all fake news. And you ask the Muslim, he will say the same thing about Hinduism and so forth. And you don't really need the modern means of communication to spread fake news. People you know they blame Facebook and social media and all that but if you live in some small medieval village a thousand years ago, so you don't have Facebook, you don't have a smartphone, but somebody comes along and tells you hey do you know the old woman who lives by the forest? I just saw her flying on a broomstick. And within an hour you would have an entire mob of people with torches and pitchforks ready to burn this woman to death. So this is you know fake news medieval style. And so the means of spreading and creating the fake news change, but the phenomenon has been there throughout human history. - Right, the part of the book where you talk about AI and basically our technology kind of knowing how to manipulate us, so that our technology can affect our decision-making so that we're almost automatons like being, it was very scary to me. And I was interested because you had talked about how this has been a phenomenon forever. Why this is actually scarier than someone come into your village? Like why is this different if we've always been manipulated and we've always thought our own decisions were our own decisions but we're actually influenced by a lot of people manipulating us and telling us stories. Why is this different? - Because up till now the manipulation was rather rudimentary. Nobody could really know what was happening inside your brain, so you know they had folk psychology and folk sociology for thousands of years. You know which kind of stories make people do what kind of things, but it's very rudimentary and unscientific and this was simply because nobody could really get inside your brain and inside your mind because nobody understood biology well enough and nobody had enough computing power you know to gather all the data about you 24 hours a day and analyze it. I mean even if you lived in the Soviet Union during Stalin or during Brezhnev era and you had the KGB follow you around 24 hours a day, the KGB didn't have the kind of brain science we have today. And the KGB did not have like super computers. So you know you have all this huge file on Natalie that we gathered for years, but who can read all that and analyze it? Now it's a completely different situation. We are beginning to have enough understanding of biology and enough computing power, so that for the first time in history somebody, some corporations, some governments could be in a position to hack human beings in a systematic and large-scale manner, which means that very soon somebody out there will know me better than I know myself and will know you better than you know yourself. Now again it's not completely new. There were cases before that somebody knows you better than you know yourself. Very often we call this person mother. (all laughing) When I was you know three years old or five years old my mother knew me better than I knew myself. Understood my quirks and my personality and what's good for me and what's not good for me. And the good thing is that in most cases if you don't grow up in very abusive family then your mother has your best interests. So it's good that she knows you better than you know yourself because as a three-year-old you won't survive otherwise. - You're not angry, you're hungry. That's my rule for my kids. - But the problem is what happens if you're 30 years old and the president tells you you're not angry, you're hungry. That's far more sinister than when it comes from your mother. Or when Amazon tells you, you're not really angry, but you're just hungry. You need to eat this, trust me. - [Natalie] Buy this yeah. - Yeah and this is what we are going to, and it's not you know science fiction/fantasy. Actually I think that science fiction is not drilling deep enough about this point, there are some movies and novels that deal with it, but I think personally that science fiction is may be the most important genre today, because it prepares people for dealing with the new challenges of the 21st century like AI, but it usually focuses on the wrong scenarios like the scenario of the AI gaining consciousness and the robots coming to kill us. It is very unlikely. I'm far more concerned about the robots coming to feed us and to sell us stuff, that the robots are coming to sell us stuff. - They've already come to sell us stuff. - And they know how to press our emotional buttons. So they're very good at selling us stuff. - So do we throw away our smartphones? Is that the, does that help us? Does it save us? - No I mean it's impossible and also because you know much of the new technology has wonderful promises. We don't want to give up all the good things that the internet and smartphones have been doing for us. I met my husband on the Internet. So I don't want to give it up. The internet has been good to me. But like with every technology, we need to make it serve our purposes instead of us serving its purposes. The problem is that for the first time we have a technology that can understand our purposes better than we do and can therefore manipulate it without our even realizing it. We have all this still myth of free will that everything we choose is of our own free will and this is a myth that served us well for a couple of centuries but now it's becoming dangerous, because when people believe that every decision they make reflects why did you choose this? Oh this is my free will, then you are very uncurious about what's really happening inside your brain, inside your mind, and what kind of buttons and levers are being pressed and you know as long as nobody can really mess with your brain and your mind, then you can believe in free will and there is no harm, but once somebody has privileged access to your inner reality and it's not you. It's some corporation or government, then belief in free will becomes very, very dangerous. The easiest people to manipulate are the people who are convinced that their decision, I decided if it's my free will. - Okay but if you don't believe in free will then how can you even believe that you have the choice to be free of it, of this stipulation? - No we have choices all the time. We have a will, we have desires, we have choices. We just don't choose which desires to have. Our choices in this sense, they are not free. They are the result of an enormous amount of influences genetic, environmental, and increasingly technological. So you know a lot of people think that if I don't believe in free will then I will just curl up in some corner and starve to death because but actually I find this extremely liberating that the next thought that pops up in the mind, the next desire that pops up in the mind, instead of rushing to identify with it, this is me, I chose it. You actually become more curious, hey where did this come from? Is it really my desire or was it planted or influenced by something-- - It sounds like schizophrenia, to be like this is not my idea. That someone implanted it in my brain, like the government put a radio in my brain. - Yeah but you know what was schizophrenia 50 years ago is becoming reality. And it's becoming (mumbles). - I need something stronger than water. I need like I need a whiskey or something. - So you know nobody knows how to deal with it. I mean I don't know how to deal with it. I just know that we have to face this reality as whereas we enter an era in which we are no longer black boxes, in which it is becoming easier and easier for all kinds of entities. Again could be corporations, could be governments, could be various organizations. To constantly monitor us and thereby hack us not our smartphones, not our bank accounts, hack our brains, our personality. They can know which, you know you have today it's not science fiction. You have today corporations whose advertisement campaigns are like precision-guided munitions. Like we need to find 16 year old girls with low self-esteem. This is the ideal clientele for our product, and we now have an algorithm that can sift through big data gathered from YouTube and Facebook and whatever and we can locate the 16,728 16 year old girls with low self-esteem that we can target for our product. And this is not science fiction. This is happening all the time. You know Analytica and all that it drew attention to the political implications of this technology and personally I think it's actually good it happened because it was a kind of wake-up call, and we still have time not a lot of time, but we still have some time to do something about it. To realize what is the implications of creating these kinds of technologies to hack human beings. - And you talk about global governing bodies kind of approaching these issues, and also corporations these tech companies having sort of philosophers on staff ethicists, to deal with you know the ethics of a self-driving car and things like that, how would you design that sort of committee or what would be your recommendations for these tech companies in designing their technology to be responsible if they want to be responsible, which I would hope many of them do. - Well it needs to come in from various directions. We definitely need government and international regulations about these things and many of the greatest dangers, they can't be regulated on the level of a single nation or a single country. You need international agreements on the good regulation of the most dangerous technologies. Otherwise it wouldn't work because nobody would like to stay behind in an AI arms race. There is a lot of things that corporations can do that engineers and technicians and scientists can do. It's just you know which projects you choose to work on. At present a lot of these big data surveillance algorithms, they survey individuals in the service of corporations and governments. This is the usual direction, but there is nothing about technology that prevents us from designing the opposite type of surveillance mechanisms. For example a big data AI algorithm that surveys the government in the service of the citizens to make sure there is no corruption. You like surveillance so much why don't we survey you? No, no, no, this is the red line, this no. And similarly you know you have all these big tech companies designing, creating, engineering AI to monitor and survey us. You can design an AI sidekick that, yes it gets to know me even better than I know myself. It gets to know my unique weaknesses but in order to protect me from the hostile AIs out there that are trying to get me. There is no technical reason why you can't go in that direction and just as you have an anti-virus for your computer, that at least tries to defend your computer from all these malware and Trojan horses, and so forth we can have an AI that protects me from all these other AIs that are trying to hack me and to manipulate me. It's just a question of what we choose to do with the new technologies. - But you also wrote the thing that I'm really connected to about how we're very good at creating technologies and not very good at predicting how it will be used. I'm paraphrasing poorly. You can probably elaborate more on it, but I'm just wondering if we accept that you know we can create fertilizer that we think is gonna be a great thing and feed all these people and then becomes the biggest environmental disaster. We think we're doing something good that will save people that will help people and ends up being a crisis or you know Twitter the founders of Twitter recently expressed regret over they thought bringing news to everybody quickly would help save the world, and obviously it's become very, very negative in many ways although positive in other ways too. How do we create things when so many good intentioned things have such negative impacts that we can predict? There is no easy solution to that. It's a question of simplicity and complexity that it's far simpler to manipulate things than to understand them. We sometimes naively think that to really manipulate something you need to understand all its complexity but it's totally not the case. It's much easier for example to build a dam over a river than to understand the complexity of the ecosystem and all the different implications of building this dam. Or like the example that you gave is the fertilizer that yes plants need more nitrogen in order to grow. Wonderful we have this chemical that provides nitrogen to the plants, but it was easy for chemists not very easy but relatively easy for chemists to synthesize this particular fertilizer, but to understand what are the implications when large quantities of this chemical are being washed into the ocean year after year and what it will do to the fish and to the octopuses and to the algae and so forth, this is so much more complicated. And it's the same with Twitter and it's the same with almost every technology, there is this huge gap between manipulation and understanding. And I think the worst danger on this front is that we are about to gain the ability to manipulate the human body and the human brain and the human mind long before we understand the full complexity especially of the human mind. So we are likely to start changing, manipulating our internal reality without really understanding the full consequences which could lead to just as we now face an ecological disaster in the outside world, we might face a kind of mental eco disaster in the world inside us. And you know we are now conducting beginning to conduct these huge experiments on billions of people and billions of kids, nobody knows what are the consequences for example of raising kids on screens. We just don't know. We hope it will be okay. W hope we will middle through and so far you know so far so good, but we just really don't know. - Something that you write about as being one of the sort of central tenets of your secularism is eliminating suffering. And then you also write very, you quote extensively and impactfully from Brave New World about how the Soma, the drug kind of takes out everything that's like worthwhile in life, you know this feeling this lack of pain and takes away so much art and so much of what makes life life. And obviously there's such an equivalent with the opioid epidemic now and how obviously there's a goal of eliminating pain, but obviously it's also creating like a zombie nation for us in the US. How do you reconcile that sort of tenet of trying to alleviate human suffering and of course other sentient beings suffering, animal suffering with the necessity, I mean I believe in the necessity of having a spectrum that you can't experience the love without the possibility of that love of breaking up. You can't experience the joy of living without the threat of mortality. In my mind I mean maybe that's an opinion as opposed to a truth, but I'm interested in how you reconcile those. - The huge difference between pain and suffering, very often suffering is I mean pain is a particular sensation in the body. Suffering is generated by the mind. Very often in reaction to things like pain. The pain is pain, okay I have pain in my knee. The suffering is when my mind starts going crazy. I want to get rid of this pain, and it's still there and I want to get rid of it and this I want to get rid of it. There is something in reality and I don't want it to be in reality but it's there. This is the generation of suffering, so it's something very different from pain. If we just learn how to live with the pain, it's still painful but at least some of the suffering goes away and it's the same with something like sadness. I mean if you're sad and your mind goes I don't want to be sad. I want to be happy, I want to be joyful, then the sadness also turns into suffering, and then you also have the temptation, let's take something to eliminate the sadness. Let's take a pill let's watch a movie, let's run away from the sadness. And you're not only generating suffering for yourself in doing so, you're also missing a large part of life. Life is definitely not just about joy and not just about pleasure. It's also about pain and sadness, they have a lot to teach us. There can be a lot for example of depth in sadness and if you just you know all your life just run away whenever sadness brings its head up then you're missing a large part of life. So when I talk about alleviating suffering I don't mean just let's find some pill that makes all the sadness and all the pain and all the anger and all the negative emotions just disappear from the world. It won't work and if it does work well it will be a very very different world than the one we know. - I'm also interested in how you write about technology being able to create art or AI being able to write music now and play chess creatively, but those examples are obviously very sort of mathematical examples. Do you think that extends to other arts that are less mathematical? Like writing a poem or you know painting a painting? - Well it really goes to the question of what is art, and I would be very happy to hear, I mean I've been talking all the time and I would be very happy to hear what you think about it but a very common understanding is that art is about inspiring human emotions, but in the end whether it's painting, whether it's theater, whether it's the movie or ballet or music or anything, it's in the end comes down to the human experience. We want to inspire maybe joy, maybe sadness, maybe anger, maybe fear, you go to a horror movie, you go to a drama, you go to a comedy, the idea is let's inspire a particular human emotion. Now if it is true that the ultimate instrument that all artists are playing on is the human emotional system, which is the human biochemical system. There is a chance that computers could become the best artists in the world, in the sense of you want joy, I know how to press your biochemical buttons to produce joy. You want to feel sad, I know how to press your emotional keyboard to produce sadness. Maybe art is not about inspiring human emotions but if it is there is a case to be made that in the not-too-distant future computers will be so good in manipulating human emotions that human artists will find it difficult to compete with them. And this is where I would really like to hear your views on about both is it really what art is about to inspire you in emotions and if it is, does it mean that maybe quite soon a lot of artists will be out of work? - (laughs) You know I don't understand the technology enough to understand if technology would be able to really replace art. Of course for music it seems plausible because music is so much pattern and math. It seems less plausible to me of course that something like storytelling or painting that seems much more visceral, and not something that could necessarily be like a product of an algorithm and be as effective as. But I don't know and it's interesting to me that you say that consciousness is this sort of mystery, but you have a real belief that emotion is this sort of biochemical algorithm. How does that separate and how do you think the subconscious which is also sort of a mystery but maybe somehow connects between emotion and consciousness and it's sort of woven throughout as opposed to being like some layered thing. How does that relate where something seems like something that can be hacked and something is a complete mystery? - Yeah I don't know I mean I think almost nobody knows. We don't understand consciousness well enough, so we don't understand what's happening there, but we do again this is the gap between manipulation and understanding. We don't understand the mind, but we become extremely effective in manipulating it. We do know how to produce emotions with greater and greater certainty, both in human collectives and in individuals to the degree you know the most extreme cases is when in all kinds of medical procedures you implant electrodes in people's brains, and you can like with almost a hundred percent certainty you know that the doctor or the scientist presses a button and the person feels joy or fear, and then the mind generates a story why I felt fear like we know the answer why you felt fear because doctor X just pressed this button and it is connected by an electrode to your brain to the center of the field of the medulla whatever. So this is why you felt fear, but the mind, no, no, no, there is something frightening about this scene. This person looks to me very shady and it comes up with a story. And so we don't, again I don't understand, we don't understand, but we can manipulate. - Right which is, I always think of the falling reflex, you know when you fall asleep. That's just a spinal cord reflex but somehow our brain makes the story that in our dream that we're falling that makes us feel like we're having that because of the story but the impulse comes from your spine first and it goes right back to like our narrative tendencies that our narrative tendencies seem to explain our own body's reflexes more than the other way. Like that behavior precedes intention as opposed to intention preceding behavior. - Yeah and the danger is that when you get to the point you can manipulate people's emotion so well, you know the political implications are really horrifying. Because we know from history that for example in order to get a population to hate some group you basically need to hijack their, not just their fear system, but their disgust. Throughout history you see again and again this trick that the first step towards ostracizing or persecuting or exterminating a group is you feel disgust towards them. Now disgust, the mechanism of disgust evolved by evolution to protect us against disease against sources of contamination like feces or an open wound or a corpse or all kinds of vermin and things like that, but then humans in history discovered that you can actually hijack these brain mechanisms and direct them not towards these disgusting things, but against disgusting people, and again and again you see in history that people like are compared with cockroaches, - [Natalie] Metaphor again. - Or compared the disease, they are like cancer. They are a source of pollution, so you know even very large groups of people like women have often been considered a source of pollution in many religions. Why can't a woman be a rabbi? Why can't a woman be a priest? Women are a source of pollution. - Why can't you shake hands with a woman? - Yeah and this is hijacking. There is real pollution in the world. You know again feces, this is pollution, but woman isn't. But people have found out how to hijack the disgust mechanisms in the brain, and you know 20 years from now, you can do that in a very precise way to individuals and make them really feel disgust towards whatever you want them to be disgusted by, and this is extremely dangerous. - Yeah there's something in entertainment world that's very related there. I'm sure you know about this, there's sort of tracking devices now on TVs. They track where your eyes go so that future television or films can make different stories for people depending on what they unconsciously are paying attention to so that I think it's actually an Israeli developer who's developing it, but one of my friends was telling me that it was just presented to her that you know if you're paying attention even you don't realize more to this handsome man the story will gear towards him, whereas if another viewer is more interested in watching the cute little dog, the story will go and follow them. And it'll be kind of a choose-your-own-adventure but based on your things that might not even be conscious to you, this kind of storytelling. And it's something that's interesting in terms of the narratives and the storytelling like your books are obviously being read all over the world. Movies and television from my industry is being seen much more widely because if, but then there's also sort of a fracturing of narrative because there's so much access, but there's just so much more content too. So how do you feel that that fractured narrative that that might now be targeted towards people will affect the way people interact with each other because in a way you have a bigger chance to share a story with someone in China, but you also have much less of a chance of maybe connecting to someone sharing the story with someone next to you, because there's now five million TV shows to choose from. - Yeah that's a very interesting question and a very interesting development. I don't really know, I mean so far the trajectory in history has been for thousands of years that there are fewer and fewer stories that more and more people share. If you think for example about mythology, so you know 5000 years ago, you have a different mythology in almost every village and every valley. And then gradually a very small number of mythological stories took over the entire world. And we constantly see them and hear about them everywhere. Even in non-religious contexts they kind of become the basic metaphors and the basic narratives for understanding the world. Like I don't know I think I mentioned Harry Potter before which I really like the books, so but some kind of a disappointment for me came at the end that what will happen in the end. I want to know how will it end, and then what happens in the end. He dies, he comes back to life. - Spoiler (laughs). - He defeats the, saved the world. I'm sure I heard it somewhere before. You know it's not a really original story. In the end we go for the most familiar mythology, and this was not like that 5000 years ago. You had so many different versions and it's the same way as fairy tales. When the Grimm brothers in the early 19th century they went about collecting German fairy tales. So there were like 200 versions of Hansel and Gretel. Like every grandmother in every village told the different story, a little different story, and the Grimm brothers they decided okay, grandmother are from this village, this will be the canonical story of Hansel and Gretel. And now you have, I don't know millions of people that know this story, just this one story. Just this one version. So we had this constant more and more concentration, fewer and fewer stories that everybody knows, and we are now seeing a kind of divergence, a breakup for example certainly in television that if 20 years ago certainly when I was a kid in Israel in the 1980s, we just had one channel. So everybody saw the same show. There was nothing else. And now you have different sections of societies watching very different shows. Where is it going? We'll wait and see. - We're going to, we just have about 10 minutes left, that's been so fascinating. I wish we could have gone on for hours. I've had hundreds of questions and my god you are all smart. I think we've covered quite a few of them. so I think we're only going to manage two, possibly three at the very most, but one and there's been a number of themes coming up and a lot of people have wanted to speak about Me Too. So there's a question from a woman Coralie Sonik, who says in your opinion what led women to share their story Me Too at this specific time in history? And Natalie we'd love to hear your thoughts on it too. - Well Tarana Burke who started the Me Too Movement clearly utilized technology in a very powerful way that gave I think really gave women a sense of solidarity and the safety in numbers. And we're seeing it today with the very emotionally impacting Kavanaugh hearings in Washington, in my country, which is very, very difficult to watch. But also very inspiring because of the courage of people who have been silenced for a very, very long time, and that you know I think one woman inspires another and then it becomes a movement. And then people realize that they're protecting each other and protecting I think also, it was a revelation because so many, so many people not just women were silent about their experiences, that I think so people didn't realize how widespread it was. And people thought they were alone and the technology actually made them realize that there were others like them, and not only others like them but many times others with the same perpetrator, and I think also once people realized that their silence could potentially hurt other people they started to come out and also that when they realized that their speaking out could help support another person who had come forward to help their credibility they also bravely came out because unfortunately it is still so devastating for people who come forward. Their lives are extremely impacted and really they're terrorized, they're harassed. They have horrible, horrible repercussions for coming forward still after all of this today. And so it's very disheartening to hear anyone say that women are coming forward for their own benefit or to get attention or to, no one's hired anyone because they've come forward about a claim. So you really see the kind of sisterhood and solidarity and a decision to say that this is unacceptable and now that it's been revealed I think even to people who are victims of this kind of behavior I don't think anyone realized how widespread it was and that's been something that's been really revelatory in some of the women who've come forward is, and men but some of the people who've come forward some people's reaction or like Oh everyone's had that. It's a bad date and that should be an example of how ubiquitous it is. Not that it's okay but that this is a widespread cultural disease that we are living with and sickness. If every woman has had a date with a guy who's been too aggressive with her, that she's felt like she's need to leave at some point, then that's a problem. Like that's a problem that is in our entire society and that doesn't mean that we need to punish all the men who have done that. It means that we we need to change the behavior for everyone and show our boys and our girls and those who identify in between that behavior is no longer something that we're comfortable with and to be aware of the other person and their desire to care about the other person's desire. Sorry that was a speech, sorry. (audience applauding) - [Moderator] Do you wanna add anything there Yuval? - I don't know why it started just now. Could have started you know a hundred years ago in terms of the necessity. Probably wouldn't have been possible a hundred years ago, I would just say that you know you have now all these people who say well it's gone too far. What I'm curious about whether the people who now feel this urge well I must right now, I must write something to the newspaper to say it's gone too far, did you five years ago wrote something to the newspaper to say that sexual harassment is going too far. If not then why the sudden urge to speak up about this? This is what I don't understand. - I think we're going to have to wrap up in about five minutes, but I have one last question. And it's somebody who likes to have the last word. It's from God, and it says have religions in general had a positive or negative impact on humanity? Score it one to five where one is very bad and five is very good. (Natalie laughing) So both of you have to answer this one. (audience applauding) - Oh God, no you please. - I don't know, two. (all laughing) It's done some good definitely. I don't think that I mean that it's all bad. A lot of the morality of humanity of art, of again the ability to make people trust one another and cooperate is due to the various religions, but they've also done a tremendous amount of harm and certainly not all religions are the same in terms of the amount of good and the amount of harm that they have done, but ultimately both in the past and also today, I don't think they are really necessary full morality or full trust or full cooperation. In the end morality is about reducing suffering in the world. You don't need to believe in this God or that God in order to act morally. You need to have deep appreciation of suffering. I do think that we need spirituality as against religion in all times, in all cases but for me spirituality and religion are totally different things. They are almost the opposite of one another. Spirituality is about questions and religion is about answers. Spirituality is when you have this big question like what is consciousness or what is the meaning of life or who am I or what is the good? And you go on a quest to find out the answer to this question, and you have the courage, the willingness to go wherever this question takes you, because it's very important to you. Religion is about answers. It's when somebody comes and says this is the answer. You must believe that. If not you will burn in hell or we will burn you, and this invites the antithesis of spirituality. And I think that in the 21st century, we need probably spirituality more than ever before because a lot of spiritual questions and philosophical questions are suddenly becoming practical questions. Questions about free will, about what is the meaning of humanity? What does it mean to be human? Which you know people argue about for thousands of years but had very little immediate implications what you think is just you know a pastime for philosophers. Suddenly it becomes a question for engineers because we are able or soon we will be able to start reengineering humans. So a question like what does it mean, what does humanity mean, what is the essence of being human? It moves from the realm of abstract philosophy to the realm of engineering. And this is why we need to engage with these kinds of questions far more and even corporations like Google and Facebook and so forth, I think they really need philosophers. And they really need experts on spirituality to understand what they are doing. Our religion on the other hand I think it has done whatever good or bad it could have done for humanity. And it's now losing more and more of its power. It's still very important for people's identity but most of its traditional roles, I mean in the past religion you know determined agriculture and medicine. If you are sick you go to the priests. If there is no rain you go to the temple to pray and all these things have been taken over by science and technology and the engineers and the doctors, and what is left is really defining collective identities for human groups. And in this religion is now mostly harmful I think because instead of encouraging global unity, the main thing it does at present is to support tribalism and nationalism and prevent greater human collaboration. (audience applauding) - I think we might actually have to end it there but thank you so much. That was the most fascinating, brilliant conversation. You are both titans of intellect. Can I ask you just to give them all both a huge round of applause? (audience applauding)



Although the Torah calls Noah "a just man and perfect in his generations",[1] nevertheless the rabbis debated the degree of his righteousness. Some think that Noah was a just man only in comparison with his generation, which was very wicked, but that he could not be compared with any of the other righteous men mentioned in the Torah. These same rabbis go still further and assert that Noah himself was included in the divine decree of destruction, but that he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (compare ib. 6:8) for the sake of his descendants. Other rabbis, on the contrary, extol Noah's righteousness, saying that his generation had no influence on him, and that had he lived in another generation, his righteousness would have been still more strongly marked.[2] Accordingly, the terms "wise" (hakham) and "stupid" (ba'ar) are applied to Noah by different rabbis.[3] Still, it is generally acknowledged that before the Flood, Noah was, by comparison with his contemporaries, a really upright man and a prophet. He was considered as God's shepherd.[4]

Two different reasons are given why Noah begat no children until he had reached the advanced age of 500 years, while his ancestors had families at a much younger age.[5] One explanation is that Noah, foreseeing that a flood would destroy the world on account of its corruption, refused to marry on the ground that his offspring would perish. God, however, ordered him to take a wife, so that after the Flood he might repeople the earth.[6] Alternatively, God rendered him impotent until the age of 500, saying: "If his children be wicked, he will be afflicted by their destruction; and if they be upright like their father, they will be troubled with making so many arks".[7] Sefer haYashar[8] and Genesis Rabba[9] both agree that Noah's wife was called Naamah. According to the latter, she was the sister of Tubal-cain (Genesis 4:21); according to the former, she was a daughter of Enoch, and Noah married her when he was 498 years old.

Making of the Ark

On being informed of the end of the world, Noah exhorted his contemporaries to repentance, foretelling them that a flood would destroy the earth on account of the wickedness of its people. He planted cedar-trees and felled them, continuing to do so for the space of 120 years. When the people asked him why he prepared so many trees, he told them that he was going to make an ark to save himself from the Flood which was about to come upon the earth. But the people ignored and mocked at him, using vile language; and Noah suffered violent persecution at their hands.[10]

According to one legend, God showed Noah with His finger how to make the ark;[11] but according to the Sefer Noah[12] Noah learned how to build it, and mastered as well the various sciences, from the Sefer Razi'el (the book from which the angel Raziel taught Adam all the sciences), which had been brought to him by the angel Raphael.

The construction of the ark lasted fifty-two years; Noah purposely working slowly, in the hope that the people would take warning therefrom and would repent (Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer l.c.). The Sefer haYashar (l.c.), however, assigns only five years for the construction of the ark.

Noah could distinguish between clean and unclean animals inasmuch as the ark of itself gave admittance to seven of the clean animals, while of the unclean ones it admitted two only.[13] Sefer haYashar describes another method for distinguishing them: the clean animals and fowls crouched before Noah, while the unclean ones remained standing.

A difference of opinion exists regarding Noah's entering the ark. According to some rabbis, Noah's faith was so small that he did not enter the ark until he stood ankle deep in water.[14] Others declare that Noah waited for God's directions to enter the ark, just as he awaited His permission to leave it.[15]

Within the ark

When Noah and his family and everything that he had taken with him were inside the ark, the people left outside asked him to admit them too, promising repentance. Noah refused to admit them, objecting that he had exhorted them to repent many years before the Flood. The people then assembled in great numbers around the ark in order to break into it; but they were destroyed by the lions and other wild animals which also surrounded it.[16]

Noah was constantly occupied in the ark; for he had to attend to all the living things which were with him and which fed at different times. One of the lions, having become enraged at Noah, attacked and injured him, so that he remained lame for the rest of his life. Noah, during the twelve months that he was in the ark, did not sleep one moment.[17]

Noah had also to feed Og, who, being unable to enter the ark, sat upon it, taking hold of one of its timbers. Noah made a hole in the side of the ark through which he passed food to Og; Og then swore to be Noah's eternal servant.[18]

Being in great distress, Noah prayed to God to shorten the time of his suffering. God answered him that He had decreed that the Flood should last twelve months and that such decree might not be changed.[19]

When Noah sent the raven to see whether the waters were abated, it refused to go, saying: "Thy Lord hates me; for, while seven of other species were received into the ark, only two of mine were admitted. And you also hate me; for, instead of sending one from the sevens, you sendest me! If I am met by the angel of heat or by the angel of cold, my species will be lost." Noah answered the raven: "The world has no need of you; for you art good neither for food nor for sacrifice." God, however, ordered Noah to receive the raven into the ark, as it was destined to feed Elijah.[20]

When Noah, on leaving the ark, saw the destruction wrought on the world, he began to weep, saying: "Lord of the world, TYou are merciful; why have You not pitied Your children?" God answered him: "Foolish shepherd! Now you implore My clemency. Had you done so when I announced to you the Flood, it would not have come to pass. You knew that you would be rescued, and therefore did not care for others; now you pray." Noah acknowledged his fault, and offered sacrifices in expiation of it.[21] It was because Noah neglected to pray for his contemporaries that he was punished with lameness and that his son Ham abused him.[22]


The planting of a vineyard by Noah and his drunkenness[23] caused him to be regarded by the ancient rabbis in a new light, much to his disparagement. He lost much if not all of his former merit.

He was considered one of the three worthless men that were eager for agricultural pursuits.[24] He was the first to plant, to become drunken, to curse, and to introduce slavery.[25] God blamed Noah for his intemperance, saying that he ought to have been warned by Adam, upon whom so much evil came through wine.[26] According to Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer,[27] Noah took into the ark a vine-branch which had been cast out with Adam from paradise. He had previously eaten its grapes, and their savor induced him to plant their seed, the results of which proved lamentable. When Noah was about to plant the vineyard, Satan offered him his help, for which he was to have a share in the produce. Noah consented. Satan then successively slaughtered a sheep, a lion, an ape, and a hog, fertilizing the ground with their blood. Satan thereby indicated to Noah that after drinking the first cup of wine, one is mild like a sheep; after the second, courageous like a lion; after the third, like an ape; and after the fourth, like a hog who wallows in mud.[28] This legend is narrated by Ibn Yahya thus: "Noah, seeing a he-goat eat sour grapes and become intoxicated so that it began to frisk, took the root of that vine-branch and, after having washed it with the blood of a lion, a hog, a sheep, and an ape, planted it and it bore sweet grapes."[29]

The vineyard bore fruit the same day that it was planted, and the same day, too, Noah gathered grapes, pressed them, drank their juice, became intoxicated, and was abused by Ham.[30]


Noah should have lived 1,000 years; but he gave Moses 50 years, which, together with the 70 taken from Adam's life, constituted Moses' 120 years.[31] There is a tradition that Noah lived to see 14,400 of his descendants.[32]

Some identify Noah with Melchizedek, and declare that he founded Jerusalem.

Midrash of the flood of Noah states it was not a global deluge: "The deluge in the time of Noah was by no means the only flood with which this earth was visited. The first flood did its work of destruction as far as Jaffé, and the one of Noah's days extended to Barbary."[33]

See also


  1. ^ Genesis 10:9
  2. ^ Talmud Sanhedrin 108a; Genesis Rabba 30:10
  3. ^ Exodus Rabba 50:2; Numbers Rabba 10:9
  4. ^ Leviticus Rabba 1:9; "Yalkut Hadash," Mosheh, No. 128
  5. ^ Compare Genesis 5
  6. ^ Tanhuma, Bereshit, 39; "Sefer haYashar," section "Noah"
  7. ^ Genesis Rabba 26:2
  8. ^ l.c.
  9. ^ Genesis Rabbah 22:4
  10. ^ Sanhedrin 108a, b; Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 22; Genesis Rabba 30:7; Leviticus Rabba 27:5; "Sefer haYashar," l.c.; see also Flood in Rabbinical Literature
  11. ^ Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer 23
  12. ^ Adolf Jellinek, "B. H." iii. 155-160
  13. ^ Sanhedrin 108b
  14. ^ Genesis Rabba 32:9
  15. ^ Genesis Rabbah 34.4; Midrash Agadat Bereshit, in Jellinek, "B. H." iv. 11
  16. ^ Tanhuma, Noah, 10; Genesis Rabba 32:14; Sefer haYashar, l.c.
  17. ^ Tanhuma, Noah, 14; Genesis Rabba 30:6
  18. ^ Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer l.c.
  19. ^ Tanhuma, Noah, 17; Midrash Agadat Bereshit l.c. 9.12
  20. ^ Sanhedrin 108b; Genesis Rabba 33:6
  21. ^ Zohar hadash, p. 42a, b
  22. ^ Zohar hadash p. 43a
  23. ^ Genesis 9.20 et seq.
  24. ^ Genesis Rabba 36:5
  25. ^ Tanhuma, Noah, 20; compare Genesis l.c.
  26. ^ Sanhedrin 70a
  27. ^ Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer l.c.
  28. ^ Midrash Agadah on Genesis 9:21; Midrash Abkir, in Yalkut Shimoni, Genesis 61; compare Genesis Rabba 36:7
  29. ^ Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah, p. 75a, Amsterdam, 1697
  30. ^ Genesis Rabba l.c.; Midrash Aggadah l.c.; Tanhuma, Noah, 20
  31. ^ "Yalkut Hadash," "Noah," No. 42
  32. ^ Ibn Yahya, l.c.
  33. ^ Genesis Rabba

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "article name needed". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

This page was last edited on 7 November 2019, at 08:06
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