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Avodah Zarah, 30


OPINIONS: The Mishnah earlier (29b) states that it is forbidden for a Jew to drink wine of an idolater. This is because the idolater's wine was likely used for serving his Avodah Zarah ("Yayin Nesech"). The Gemara later (36b) states that even wine that is not known to have been poured for Avodah Zarah is also forbidden ("Stam Yayin"). The Gemara here teaches that these prohibitions do not apply to wine that has been cooked ("Yayin Mevushal"). Why do these prohibitions not apply to Yayin Mevushal?
(a) The simple reason why Yayin Mevushal that belonged (or was touched) by a Nochri is permitted is because such wine is never used for Avodah Zarah. Since the reason why the wine of a Nochri is forbidden is because it might have been poured on an altar of Avodah Zarah, Yayin Mevushal is permitted because it is not fit to be used for Avodah Zarah (according to the laws of the idolaters), and thus the Chachamim did not prohibit it (LEVUSH Yoreh De'ah 123:3).

This reason is also implied by the RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros 11:10). The Rambam states that wine which contains a small amount of honey has the same Halachic status as cooked wine, because it is not fit to be offered on an altar of Avodah Zarah.

(b) The ROSH here has difficulty with this reason. The Gemara in Shabbos (17b) gives a different reason for why Stam Yayin is forbidden. The Gemara there says that the reason for this prohibition is to ensure that people do not become too cordial with Nochrim, for such friendliness could lead to intermarriage. According to this reason, what difference does it make if the wine is cooked or not? It should still be prohibited to drink Yayin Mevushal of a Nochri in order to prevent intermingling!

In addition, if the reason Yayin Mevushal is permitted is because it is not used for Avodah Zarah, then it should also be permitted to drink diluted wine of a Nochri, for such wine also is not fit for an alter of Avodah Zarah. However, we know that diluted wine is not permitted!

The Rosh suggests that perhaps the reason why Yayin Mevushal is permitted is because wine is usually not cooked (since cooking diminishes the taste of the wine). Since Yayin Mevushal is not common, perhaps the Chachamim did not apply their prohibition to such wine.

REBBI AKIVA EIGER (YD 123, DH d'Af Al Gav) has difficulty with this Rosh. When the Gemara in Shabbos says that it is forbidden to drink wine of Nochrim because doing so might lead to intermingling, it is discussing only Stam Yayin, wine owned by Nochrim that is not known to have been used for Avodah Zarah. The Gemara does *not* give that reason for the prohibition against drinking wine owned by a *Jew* that was merely touched by a Nochri. Indeed, the Rosh himself differentiates and says that while the wine owned by a Ger Toshav (a Nochri who accepts the seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach in front of Beis Din) cannot be consumed by a Jew, wine owned by a Jew that was merely touched by a Ger Toshav is permitted. This implies that the reasoning why wine touched by a Nochri is forbidden is only because of the concern of Avodah Zarah, and not because of intermingling (for the reason of intermingling should also prohibit drinking wine touched by a Ger Toshav). This is also the opinion of the RASHASH (29b).

There is a practical difference based on these opinions. If a Nochri offers a bottle of Yayin Mevushal (which was not poured for Avodah Zarah before it was cooked) to a Jewish guest in his home, may the Jew drink it? According to the explanation of the Rosh (that the Chachamim did not institute their enactment in the case of cooked wine, since cooked wine is uncommon), even if the Nochri owns the wine there should be no reason to prohibit the Jew from drinking it. This indeed is the ruling of the TAZ and PRISHAH (ibid.).

According to Rebbi Akiva Eiger, it seems that Yayin Mevushal is permitted for a Jew to drink only when the belongs to the Jew and was merely touched by a Nochri. If the Nochri owns the wine and is offering it to his Jewish guest, then it should be prohibited for the Jew to drink, due to the decree of the Chachamim to avoid situations that might lead to intermarriage.

The HAR TZVI (YD 111) points out that the RAMBAM (ibid., 11:9), TUR, and SHULCHAN ARUCH mention only the leniency of Yayin Mevushal in the context of wine owned by a Jew that was touched by a Nochri; they do not mention that a Nochri's own wine is permitted if it is cooked. The Har Tzvi concludes, therefore, that it is questionable whether or not it is permitted to drink Yayin Mevushal produced by Nochrim, even when it is evident that the wine is not poured for Avodah Zarah. (Y. Montrose)


QUESTION: The Mishnah in Terumos (8:6) states that if one finds a type of fruit which is juicy and sees that it is split, he must suspect that a Sheretz may have inserted poison into the fruit and refrain from eating it. Our Gemara says that if a fig, which contains a hole in the place of the stem, is left out unwatched, one does *not* need to suspect that the hole may have been an entranceway for the poison of a Sheretz, and he may eat the fruit. The Gemara states that this in accordance with the view of Rebbi Eliezer who says that a person is allowed to eat grapes and figs at night and he does not need to worry about the element of danger inherent in this action. Rebbi Eliezer derives this from the verse, "Shomer Pesa'im Hashem" -- "Hashem protects fools" (Tehilim 116:6). This principle of Hashem's protection of fools is mentioned in other places as well (see Kesuvos 39a, Nidah 31a). The KOVETZ SHI'URIM (Kesuvos #136) asks what does this statement of Rebbi Eliezer mean? We know that we are required to go to great extents to prevent danger to someone's life, even to desecrate Shabbos if doing so will protect a person's life. How, then, can we be careless and take the risk of eating a fig at night, assuming that Hashem will protect us from danger?


(a) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM answers that the requirement to protect one's health does not require a person to avoid doing a normal action. It is normal to eat food at any time of day and night. Accordingly, this form of behavior cannot be restricted, and thus Hashem guards fools who are behaving normally. However, where someone can avoid doing an action which is not a normal form of behavior, then Hashem does not protect him.

The Kovetz Shi'urim does not explain how this applies to the laws of Shabbos. Why is it permitted to desecrate Shabbos in order to avoid endangering one's life, when the observance of Shabbos is a normal form of behavior? The SEDER YAKOV here explains that if a person is at risk of being in danger on Shabbos and there is something that he can do in order to remove himself from that danger, then Hashem does not guard the person from danger. This is because the concept of "Shomer Pesa'im Hashem" only applies to people who cannot help themselves.

This obviously does not mean that a person is permitted to do anything dangerous in the realm of eating and drinking. After all, the Mishnah in Terumos (loc. cit.) and the Gemara here say that it is prohibited to eat and drink certain items before of the risk to one's health involved. The ME'IRI explains that when an act involves a danger that is very apparent or common, a person must be careful not to do that act. (Accordingly, we may assume that the snakes common in the times of the Gemara only rarely placed their poison into the mouths of figs.)

The TORAS CHAIM gives another explanation for why Hashem protects a person who eats figs at night. He explains that since figs are difficult to watch (apparently because they are normally kept out of a jar), Hashem protects one who eats them. One who drinks water that was left uncovered, on the other hand, is not protected, because water is normally kept inside of a vessel and is easily watched. (Apparently, the Toras Chaim maintains that figs are no less of a target for a snake than is water.) (See also ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN OC 3:6 and MAGEN AVRAHAM 3:11.) (Y. Montrose)

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