May 30, 2024
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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 Menachot 58. These are some highlights.

May one use wine that has sugar in it for Kiddush?

Our Gemara discusses the prohibition against bringing honey and leaven to the altar. The Torah (Vayikra 2:11) commands: “Ki chol se’ar vechol devash lo taktiru mimenu isheh laHashem, For you shall not offer from any leaven or honey a fire offering to Hashem.” Our Gemara teaches that there is a prohibition against bringing mixtures that contain these elements to the altar. If some honey was mixed into the mincha dough and then brought to the altar, the one bringing it to the altar would deserve lashes. Due to our sins we do not have an altar, but poskim suggest that this issue has practical resonance in regard to the laws of Kiddush.

Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:14) rules that we are not to recite Kiddush on wine that has honey or leaven-type items mixed into it. Rambam writes, “We only make Kiddush on wine that could have been poured on the altar as nesachim. Therefore, if any honey or leaven mixes into the wine, (even honey) the size of a mustard seed in a large barrel of wine, the wine cannot be used for Kiddush. This is how we rule in the West. There are those who disagree. They say that the rule to use only wine that could have gone on the altar only means to reject wine that has a bad smell, was uncovered or was cooked. Each of these wines cannot be used for Kiddush.”

The Talmud Yerushalmi seems to be against the Rambam. Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesachim 10:1) teaches that Kiddush can be recited on yayin kunditon. Yayin kunditon is wine with honey and pepper mixed into it. Shu”t Harashba (Cheilek Aleph, Siman 24), the Ramban and Ritv”a (Bava Basra 97a) prove from this Yerushalmi that wine that has honey in it can be used for Kiddush. Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 272:8) rules that we can make Kiddush on cooked wine and on wine that has honey. Shulchan Aruch quotes the Rambam as an alternate point of view. Ram”a rules that it is our custom to make Kiddush on cooked wine and wine that has honey, even when the person has wine that is uncooked and had no honey added to it, so long as the uncooked wine is not as good as the cooked wine or the wine with the honey.

What would the Rambam say about wine that has sugar in it? Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav s”k 3) writes that according to Rambam one would not be allowed to use wine that had sugar in it. Mishnah Berurah (s”k 21) quotes this ruling. However, there are Acharonim who disagree. Rashi is of the opinion that the word devash in the Torah refers to anything very sweet and not only honey. However, Ibn Ezra says that it refers to honey from dates. Shu”t Haradbaz (Cheilek Gimel Siman 527) discusses whether Rambam would find bee honey in wine problematic just as he finds that date honey in wine is problematic. Radbaz ultimately concludes that honey from bees would also disqualify the wine according to the Rambam. Halachot Ketanot (Cheilek Aleph, Siman 218) writes that one could use sugar as salt to “salt” pieces of sacrifices. While sugar is sweet and it does not belong on the altar based on the verse “ki chol se’or vechol devash,” nevertheless if one did not have sea salt, the positive command to “salt” sacrifice pieces would overrule the prohibition of “ki chol se’or vechol devash.” In light of this, sugar sometimes gets on the altar when there is no salt available. If so, wine with sugar should be allowed because wine with sugar is something that sometimes goes on the altar and therefore it should be usable for Kiddush even according to the Rambam.

To conclude, while most say from our Gemara that according to Rambam you cannot use wine with sugar in it for Kiddush, some would distinguish between wine with honey and wine with sugar and they would allow, even according to Rambam, to use wine with sugar in it for Kiddush. (Mesivta)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman


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

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