Yayin Nesekh (Non-Jewish Wine)

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Sunday, 06 June 2010 | AP | Kashrut/Food

20 Sivan 5770 – June 2, 2010. – Perashat Shelah-Lekha

Magen Abot – e”H Ribi Mordekhai Lebhar s”t

21. Yayin Nesekh and Setam Yenam (Non-Jewish Wine)

It is forbidden by Torah law to drink (or derive any other benefit from) wine used by non-Jews in idolatrous ceremonies, as it is forbidden to have any benefit from idolatry. It is also forbidden by Rabbinic decree to drink any non-Jewish wine (non-mevushal), even if it is not used for idolatrous rituals and even if those who make it are monotheists [1]. The reason is the same as that for the prohibition of non-Jewish bread, namely a concern that drinking gentile wine may lead one to socialize excessively with non-Jews and intermarry with them.

Christians nowadays have the halakhic status of idol-worshippers. Therefore, one may not drink nor have any other benefit from their wine [2].

Pious individuals have the custom to refrain from drinking even wine (non-mevushal) which a gentile has looked at, even if he did not touch it [3].

The above rules apply also to wine made from raisins, as long as the raisins are removed from the wine [4].

Some authorities permit [5] hard liquor distilled from non-Jewish wine or the grapes used in making non-Jewish wine, while others forbid it [6].

[1] See Torot Emet 112.

[2] See Ribi Mordekhai ‘Amar, Dibré Shalom ve-Emet, Yoré De’a 30.

[3] See Ribi Abraham ibn Musa (Minhat Sota, p.48); Ben Ish Hai (Second Year, Perashat Balaq 16).
[4] See Bet Yehuda (39) and Ribi Mordekhai ‘Amar (ibid. 31).
[5] Ribi Yosef Messas (Mayim Hayim 2:66) permits such liquor, as he holds that those who make the wine – Christians – are not idolaters and therefore the prohibition against their wine is less severe than that against wine made by idolaters. Therefore, a by-product of such wine is entirely permissible.
[6] Ribi Mordekhai ‘Amar (ibid. 30). He forbids this, as he holds Christians are idolaters and not only is it forbidden to drink their wine, it is also forbidden to have benefit from their wine; thus liquor distilled from their wine is forbidden.

Our holy sages, Hazal, teach us that “one who studies [at least two] Halakhot daily is guaranteed a portion in ‘Olam Haba (the world to come).” -Masekhet Meghila 28b

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