April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

This week we learned Zevachim 106. These are some highlights.

Can we use wine of shemita for Havdala?

We are not to waste any food that has shemita sanctity. Hashem (Vayikra 25:6) directed, “Vehayta Shabbat ha’aretz lachem l’ochla, And the sabbatical land shall be for you for eating.” Our Sages (Pesachim 52b) derive from this mandate that we are not to waste any of the shemita fruit, l’ochla v’lo l’hefsed. Included in this is a prohibition against ruining shemita fruit. This law creates a problem making Havdala during shemita. Much of the wine on the market in Israel will have the sanctity of the shemita produce. There is a custom when making Havdala to fill the cup to overflow as a sign of overwhelming blessings. Spilling shemita wine out of a cup and onto a table should be prohibited based on “l’ochla v’lo l’hefsed.” There is also a custom to extinguish the Havdala candle with the wine from Havdala. If we were to use shemita wine to extinguish the flame we would again seemingly run up against the problem that we may not ruin shemita produce. If wine put out a flame it would no longer be readily edible; it would be ruined. A similar problem would present itself on Pesach. During the Seder we have a custom of pouring out of the cup 10 drops of wine as we mention the 10 plagues. We then throw this wine away. We are particular not to drink the wine that was poured out, since we mentioned plagues and misfortune over the wine. What are we to do during shemita? We are not allowed to waste or ruin shemita wine.

Shu”t Mishnat Yosef (Cheilek Bet, Siman 40) discusses this problem. He points out that we need to determine how much shemita wine we are not allowed to ruin or waste. Are we not allowed to waste any amount at all, or are we just not allowed to waste an olive-sized amount of wine? Maharit Algazi (Hilchot Challah entry 2 s”k 14) writes that according to Ramban there is no prohibition when you ruin less than an olive-sized amount of shemita produce. The Torah mandated that we eat shemita fruit. By inference our Sages have said, “To eat and not to waste.” Just as only consuming an olive-sized amount is considered an act of eating, only wasting an olive-sized amount is what Hashem prohibited. Ridbaz (Pe’at Hashulchan Hilchot Shvi’is 5:1) disagrees and feels that we are not allowed to ruin or waste any amount at all of shemita produce. Shu”t Mishnat Yosef suggests that this argument would help us in our dilemma. If Maharit Algazi is correct, we can use shemita wine for Havdala and Seder night. When you overflow the cup, or pour out from the cup, be careful to pour out less than an olive-sized amount. According to the Maharit Algazi there is no prohibition against ruining less than an olive-sized amount of shemita wine. But according to the Ridbaz we should not be able to use shemita wine for Havdala or Seder night. Ridbaz teaches that we cannot ruin or waste any amount whatsoever of shemita produce.

Acharonim suggest that the back and forth in our Gemara proves that there is no prohibition against wasting shemita produce in measures smaller than an olive-size. Our Gemara discusses why Hashem had to specifically prohibit eating forbidden fats; why could we not employ logic to derive the prohibition against forbidden fats? The Gemara says that we would not have been able to derive from the fact that there is a prohibition against eating small insects, even though there is no punishment of kareis for ingesting small insects, that there is certainly a prohibition against ingesting cheilev, which has a punishment of kareis for its ingestion, for we might say that small insects are stricter in that we are even not allowed to eat tiny insects, which are smaller than an olive-size, while cheilev is a matter that only an olive-sized amount of it is prohibited. The Gemara then says we could not derive from shemita that cheilev is prohibited because money paid for shemita produce gets the status of shemita produce, while money paid for cheilev does not get the status of cheilev. If there is a prohibition of wasting shemita produce with amounts that are less than a kezayis the Gemara should have mentioned this point, and not the fact that shemita acquires its monies. Others reject this proof. Perhaps the Gemara is not referring to the prohibition of wasting shemita produce, but rather it is discussing other shemita prohibitions.

Most halachic authorities agree with the Ridbaz and prohibit any wasting of shemita produce, even less than a kezayis. During shemita we try not to spill over any wine of Havdala when filling the cup; during the seventh year we simply fill the cup to the top. If you insist on filling the cup to the point of overflow you should make sure to use a clean plate for the wine that spills over and then drink that wine after Havdala. You should not extinguish the Havdala candle with shemita wine, nor should you put some of the leftover Hadvala shemita wine in your eyes—for that would be a violation according to the Ridbaz of “l’ochlah v’lo l’hefsed” (Mesivta).

By Rabbi Zev Reichman


Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

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