Noah attempted to rectify Adam’s sin, but was unsuccessful. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was successful, however.
In this essay we will explain Noah’s unsuccessful attempt, as well as Sarah’s ultimately successful effort to rectify the damage done from partaking of the Tree of Knowledge.
Noah “drank of the wine and became drunk and he exposed himself…” (Genesis 9:21). This was not a mere drunken binge, according to the Zohar, but an attempt to rectify Adam’s sin of self-centeredness (born of the self-asserting egocentricity of the world of Tohu) by obliterating his sense of self through wine.
Wine in Kabbalah represents the sefirah of binah – understanding – in which there are two modalities: a) understanding something by way of its revealed positive attributes (called hasagas hachiyuv); b) comprehending something only by what it isn’t, by negating all positive, knowable attributes from it – “it isn’t this; it isn’t that, etc.” (called hasagas hashelilah).
When one understands something via the first modality (hasagas hachiyuv), one’s intellect actually grasps the idea itself. It is an idea that the mind can wrap itself around, so to speak. This implies that the understanding intellect does not step outside the bounds of rationality in grasping the idea.
However, understanding something via the second modality (hasagas hashelilah) implies that the person doesn’t really understand the idea at all. He or she merely appreciates that the matter is beyond his or her comprehension and can be grasped only to the extent that one knows what it isn’t (but not what it is). This latter mode was how Noah attempted to rectify the knowledge acquired by partaking of the knowledge of good and evil – by sublimating it to a level that transcends human intellect (technically, the inner dimension of binah). He assumed that by doing so the grip of self-centeredness would be loosened and the cravings for the experience of good and evil would dissipate.
However, Noah “drank of the wine and became drunk and he exposed himself…” (Genesis 9:21). In other words, his mind became confused rather than transcendent. The reason for this is that the self-nullification he achieved was incomplete; it was only a state of intellectual nullification and not actual transcendence.
However, when Sarah came into this world she was able to descend into the fragmented, egotistical world that resulted from the shattering of the vessels, and ascend again untainted by the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. She succeeded because she achieved a far loftier state of self-nullification and self-transcendence than can be achieved through intellectual nullification alone. This is the self-transcendence of willingly shouldering the yoke of heaven (kabalas ol malchus shamayim) while being fully aware of, and interacting with, the fragmented physical world.
What this means practically is that Sarah was permeated with such a sense of profound humility that the shattered fragments of the world of Tohu did not encumber her and cause her to become tainted with the egotism that clung to them. On the contrary, she permeated the sparks that animated those fragments with her humility, thus rectifying them and restoring them to their proper function – the revelation of Godliness.
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 Zohar, vol. 1 (p. 122a ff).
 See Pardes Rimonim שער ערכי הכינויים, ע' יין.
 Likutei Torah Pikudei, 3d, 6c; Toras Menachem, vol. 27 (5720 part I) p. 136 ff.
 See Toras Menachem vol. 27 (5720, part I) p. 124-5; Sefer HaMaamarim 5679, pp. 93-4.
 See Toras Menachem vol. 27 (5720, part I) p. 125.
 Sefer HaMaamarim 5679, p. 94.