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Weekly Halacha

Parshas Pekudei

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


QUESTION: If kosher pasteurized wine is touched by a non-Jew, does it become forbidden for a Jew to drink it?

DISCUSSION: Our Sages forbade a Jew to drink wine which was touched (1) by a non-Jew. The reason for this prohibition is similar to the reason for the prohibition of eating bread and food items baked or cooked by non-Jews: To limit social contact between Jews and non-Jews. The Rabbis understood that partying or joining non-Jews for meals would ultimately lead to intermarriage and G-d forbid, the self-destruction of the Jewish people.

[In earlier times, there was an additional reason for prohibiting non-Jewish wine - wine was often used in idol worship. In that case, the wine was prohibited for drinking nor could any benefit be derived from it. Nowadays, however, the Rama (2) rules that the avodah zarah issue is not really relevant since idol worship is not common in the lands where we live. Although there are opinions to the contrary, most poskim (3) rule that when necessary one may derive benefit from non-Jewish wine and business may be done with wines which were touched by a non-Jew.]

The Shulchan Aruch (4) rules that cooked wine is not included in the prohibition. Cooked wine is not considered wine concerning this restriction and one is allowed to drink it even if it was touched or drunk from by a non-Jew. Accordingly, wine makers today produce two kinds of wine, cooked and uncooked, in order to allow those who come in contact with non-Jews to drink wine. For wine to be considered halachically "cooked", it must be heated to at least 175 degrees F (5).

There is, however, a controversy among contemporary authorities over whether the pasteurized wine on the market today is considered "cooked" according to the halachah. Although many poskim hold that the pasteurization process is sufficient for the wine to be considered "cooked" (6), there are others (7) who do not. They contend that the process of cooking wine today is completely different from the process that existed in the olden days. The old way consisted of cooking the wine in open vats, which caused much of the alcohol taste to dissipate. The entire texture of the wine was altered through the cooking process. Today, the process consists of heating the wine in enclosed pipes. The average person cannot tell the difference in taste between cooked wine and uncooked wine. In addition, the main reason that cooked wine was not included in the original decree is that it was uncommon in those days to cook wine (8). Since our Sages generally do not concern themselves with uncommon situations, they did not include cooked wine in their decree. Today, however, it has become common to pasteurize almost all wine, and pasteurized wines are therefore included in the original decree that the Rabbis issued against non-Jewish wines.

L'CHATCHILAH, therefore, it is proper to keep all wine and grape juice, even those that are pasteurized, away from non-Jews. Non-Jews should not, if possible, serve wine at weddings, etc. Wearing gloves does not circumvent the prohibition (9).

B'DIEVED, though, if pasteurized wine is touched or poured by a non-Jew, there are many poskim who hold that the wine is considered "cooked" and it may be drunk, as stated above.

According to most opinions, a Jew who violates the Shabbos, even though he does so to earn a livelihood, is considered like a non-Jew in regard to these halachos (10). But nowadays, when many Jews are non-observant due to lack of knowledge, there are several poskim (11) who rule that wine which is touched by them can be drunk, even though they are not Shabbos observers.

Note: As stated above, this discussion applies to grape juice as well. The Kedem Company has recently announced that they have different types of grape juice on the market; some are cooked, some are not, and some are considered cooked only according to some opinions.


1 There are several detailed halachos involved in what is considered "touching" regarding this prohibition. They will be discussed elsewhere.

2 Y.D. 123:1. See Shach and Taz there.

3 Chochmas Adam 75:14 (who advises a ba'al nefesh to refrain); Pischei Teshuvah 123:1. See also Maharam Shick Y.D. 150.

4 Y.D. 123:3.

5 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:52. (In Y.D. 3:31, he rules that 165 degrees is sufficient); Yabia Omer 8:15.

6 Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:31; Minchas Yitzchak 7:61; Yabia Omer 8:15.

7 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Minchas Shelomo 1:25); Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (written responsum quoted in Yabia Omer 8:15); Shevet ha-Levi 2:51; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:401.

8 Rosh (Avodah Zarah 2:12).

9 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:51.

10 See Darkei Teshuvah 124:12 who quotes the various views on this issue. See also Har Tzvi Y.D. 105.

11 Teshuvos Binyan Tziyon 23; Achiezer 4:37; Chazon Ish Y.D. 1:6; Chelkas Yaakov 1:76 and other poskim.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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