Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Keeping Non-Mevushal Wine Kosher

What makes wine kosher?  With everything else the kashrus of a food item has to do with its ingredients -- use permitted ingredients, you get permitted food; right?  (At least at the d'oraisa level.  There are ways to make food forbidden at the rabbinic level: cooked by a goy any time, or cooked by a Jew on Shabbos, for example.)  Meat sort or breaks that rule.  After all, the meat started off as a living animal, which is forbidden -- d'oraisa to both Jews and goyim -- because of "eiver min ha'chai"/flesh from a living animal.  The meat is transformed from forbidden to dinner by shichita for a Jew and by death for a goy.  (Those are two different times; not our topic.)   None the less, the general rule of "kosher in, kosher out" is pretty good.

Every good rule has an exception, and this is no exception: take any kosher food and dedicate it for use in idolatrous worship -- POOF -- forbidden.  In truth, anything -- animal, vegetable, or mineral -- could be dedicated idolatrous worship, but that's not a reason to forbid the whole category.  In fact, the mishna in Avoda Zara says that HaShem did not refrain from creating the sun and moon just because fools would turn them into objects of worship.

However, Chazal recognized the deep connection between wine, religious ceremonies, and inappropriate fraternizing, so wine went into a special category.  Therefore, take kosher grapes and squeeze the bejeebers out of them; kosher.  But if a goy touches or pours that liquid; forbidden.  In fact, there is even one opinion (Nachum HaBavli, brought by the Debrecener Rav) that forbids wine if a goy even looked at it; but that is not the normative halacha.  (Some people are makpid on Nachum HaBavli, though, and they only buy wine in cases that was produced in a winery with all Shomer Shabbos workers and sealed up before it left the site.)

Obviously, if you have dinner with goyim, your best bet is not to have wine.  However, suppose you have non-Jewish cleaning lady.  I have heard that unsupervised cleaning help might sometimes pour themselves a bit of motivation, so to speak.  If they pour from the whiskey, then you have only lost a shot or two.  If they pour from the wine, however, that whole bottle is now forbidden.  So what do you do if you have wine left unsealed in the fridge?  R' Moshe says if you see that the level has not changed, you are good to go.  That is, you don't have to worry they might have poured a glass or two and replaced the missing volume with water.  I think he gave both suggestions because if I only remember, I might be worried that I don't remember exactly where it was.  If I mark it, I might be worried the help with see the mark and figure they darn well better refill with water to the mark.  You don't have to worry for either of those.

One more fly in the ointment... as far as these halachos go, a Jew who flagrantly and publically violates Shabbos is the same as a goy.  That is, if your Jewish, but not frum, cleaning lady pours some wine... the bottle is forbidden.  There are obvious implications for having non-frum Jewish guests, as well, since it makes no difference if they are rebelling against G-d, just really have trouble staying away from work for 25 hour a week, or just don't know any better.  An apikorus, even a tinok sh'nishbah, is nebbich an apikorus.

Of course, most of this does not apply to m'vushal wines (including those who are lenient and consider our pasteurized wines to be m'vushal).  The one exception is those who are makpid to not use wine that a goy looked at; wine is wine, m'vushal or not, and it is all forbidden.  However, they do have one leniency: only a goy who is an oveid avoda zara ruins the wine by looking at it.  That includes Christians.  It does not, though, include Muslims.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…