There is a most interesting lesson to be found in Perek Vav:
20. Noah, the man of the earth, debased himself and
planted a vineyard:
21. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he
uncovered himself within his tent:
22. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's
nakedness and told his two brothers outside:
23. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it
upon both their shoulders, and they walked backwards, and
covered their father's nakedness; their faces were turned
away, and they saw not their father's nakedness:
24. Noah awoke from his wine and realized what his
small son had done to him:
25. And he said, "Cursed is Canaan; a slave of
slaves shall he be to his brothers.":
The key pasuk is chav-beit (22).
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch offers the following
[Noach's] other sons remained respectfully outside.
But Ham went inside.
The going in, itself, to look for his farther there
where he could expect not to be seen "to see his father also
once drunk" already stamps Ham as a Canaanite. Then va'ahgaid meaning to tell or relate.
Not merely v'amar (to say) but related in detail,
painted the scene in words made a whole story of it, enjoyed
the event he had witnessed, and believed he had something
delectable to relate to his brothers.
Rav Hirsch goes on to explain…
The whole world of humanity is built on the relation
of children to their parents.
Of course parents are there for their children; the
mother, the condition of their existence, the father, the
one whose life should be given up to the well-being of his
both are conditioned on honoring and reverencing father and
mother. Not for
naught does this Mitzvah stand as the key-stone of the first
tablet of the Law.
As long as children see in their parents the depository of
God's mission, do not regard the bodily material, but the
spiritual being in them, out of whose hands they receive
their spiritual being, for so long mankind flourishes like a
tree. But, if,
on the other hand, this factor is quite absent from the
minds of the children, if there is a possibility that a
child can find pleasure in that part of its parents' nature
that is sexual, if reverence of the child for its parents is
absent, then the stem is cut through which, out of the past
should make the future spring forth ever nobler. Then, the younger generation considers itself only as . . .
the more vigorous, supplants the older decrepit generation
and steps into its shoes to dispossess someone. . . .
In Israel, the relation is to be of one generation
following the other, "a stream", a flow; there, the older
generation hands over its strength and powers, its spiritual
and material treasures, to the younger. Elsewhere each fresh generation wants to start afresh, does
not want to learn anything from the past, each generation is
a new and different aspect of life on earth, and what the
future will be remains to be seen.
There [with Klal Yisrael] the source of strength and
power comes from above, the stream flows, the spiritual
mission is handed over from the older, through the middle,
to the younger generation.
How does this tie into the story of Noach and the disrespect
shown by Ham?
Rav Hirsch continues…
So that when Israel had been led to the border of
the land whose inhabitants were to be cleared out for Israel
to build up a pure mode of life, degeneration and its result
were shown to them, and they were told:
-- "See, this degeneration had its beginning in the
first disrespect with which the ancestor of this nation
behaved towards his father."
This commentary provides a most interesting approach to
understanding Hashem's commandment to honor and respect, to
revere, one's parents.