1) A NOCHRI WHO TOUCHES WINE INDIRECTLY
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates an incident in which an idolater was climbing down a palm tree in Biram and accidentally touched the wine of a Jew. Rav permitted the Jew to sell the wine. Rav Kahana and Rav Asi questioned Rav's ruling. Rav himself said that even a one-day-old baby Nochri, who has no intention behind his act, causes wine that he touches to become Yayin Nesech. Why, then, is the wine that an adult Nochri accidentally touched (without intention) not considered Yayin Nesech? Rav answered that when he ruled that a baby can make wine into Yayin Nesech, he meant that the baby's touch prohibits it only from consumption, but not from being sold (or from other forms of benefit).
The details of the case of the Nochri's accidental touch, and how this case is related to the other topics of the Gemara, is the subject of much discussion.
(a) TOSFOS (DH Hachi Garsinan) points out that most texts of the Gemara (including ours) read that while descending, the Nochri accidentally touched the wine with a palm branch that he was holding. The Gemara says that this wine may not be consumed by a Jew, but it may be sold.
Tosfos discusses how this case, according to this text, is consistent with the other topics of the Gemara, and then he asks many questions on this text. He asserts that this text cannot possibly be accurate. It certainly is logical to assume that if a Nochri accidentally touches wine with his body, it is worse than if he accidentally touches it with an object he is holding in his hand. The Gemara later (58b) teaches that a Nochri who touches wine with something other than his body does not even render the wine forbidden to drink. The Gemara there relates that two Amora'im asked someone to pour wine for them, thinking that he was a Jew. They then discovered that he was a Nochri. One of them ruled that the wine is permitted to drink. The Gemara explains that since the Nochri had no idea that the liquid he was being asked to pour was wine, and he never touched the wine directly, it is permitted. The Gemara concludes that this was a case of "Kocho without intent," in which case the Rabanan did not prohibit the wine. This means that although the Nochri was touching the wine through the vessel, the wine was permitted! This is unlike the implication of the Gemara here, that even if a Nochri accidentally touched wine with a palm branch, a Jew may not drink the wine.
(b) Tosfos writes that RABEINU TAM preferred the text of RABEINU CHANANEL, the BEHAG, and the text found in the TESHUVOS HA'GE'ONIM. Their text states that the Nochri descending the tree accidentally touched the wine, and it makes no mention of a palm branch, implying that the Nochri touched the wine directly with his body.
According to this text, a Nochri who accidentally touches wine with an object does not forbid it at all, and a Jew may even drink it. Rabeinu Tam ruled that this is the Halachah. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) A NOCHRI WHO STIRS WINE IN A BARREL IN A JEWISH WINE SHOP
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates an incident in which an idolater entered a Jewish wine shop. He asked, "Do you have any wine for sale?" The Jew said he had no wine for sale. The idolater spotted a pitcher of wine in the store. He put his hand in the wine, stirred it, and said, "This isn't wine?" The Jew angrily transferred the wine into a barrel.
What is the status of such wine? Rava ruled that it may be sold to a Nochri. Rav Huna bar Chinena and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nachman ruled that is even forbidden from benefit. What is the reasoning behind their positions?
(a) The RAN explains that Rava follows the view of the Rabanan earlier (57a), who maintain that if an idolater is measuring wine, he does not make it forbidden from benefit even though he is touching it. This is because he clearly is touching the wine "she'Lo b'Kavanas Nisuch" -- "without intention to pour it [for Avodah Zarah]." Similarly, in this case, the Nochri was upset by the fact that the Jew would not sell him wine, and he was pointing this out to him. He did not touch the wine with intent to stir it for Avodah Zarah.
Rav Huna bar Chinena and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nachman argue with Rava because they do not rule like the Rabanan earlier. Rather, they rule like the Beraisa later (58a) which discusses the "Agardemim," the official appointed to oversee the royal weights and measures, who occasionally acts as an agent between suppliers and consumers and tastes the wine that he sells. The Beraisa says that a Nochri wine taster who tastes wine from a barrel and puts the rest back into the barrel renders the entire barrel Yayin Nesech, despite the fact that he is merely doing his job. The Beraisa adds that this is the law even if he drinks from the barrel with a straw. Accordingly, in the case of the Gemara here, where the Nochri touched the wine with his hand, his touch prohibited the wine from benefit. Why does the Gemara later not defend Rava by saying that he follows the view of the Rabanan earlier (57a), instead of saying that he is wrong? The Ran answers that the Beraisa of Agardemim carries more weight, because it says that this understanding of the Halachah was actually put into practice. The Ran understands that this is how the RIF learns the argument between Rava and Rav Huna bar Chinena and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nachman.
(b) Alternatively, the Ran suggests that Rava does not argue with Rav Huna bar Chinena and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nachman with regard to which Tana is correct. Both opinions follow the Rabanan earlier (57a) who rule that if a Nochri was only measuring the wine, a Jew is permitted to sell the wine. However, Rav Huna bar Chinena and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nachman maintain that the case of measuring wine differs significantly from the case of the Gemara here. In the case of an idolater who measures Jewish wine, he does so only because the Jew wants him to do this job for him. In contrast, when a Nochri touches wine because he wants to touch it, the leniency no longer applies and the wine is forbidden from benefit. Whenever an idolater touches wine because he wants to, it is possible he will be Menasech it. Accordingly, the Beraisa of Agardemim which proves that Rava is wrong does not contradict the Rabanan. It merely proves that even if a Nochri touches wine with no apparent reason to be Menasech it, it becomes forbidden (as long as it was not a Jew who told him to touch it). The Ran attributes this explanation of the Gemara to the RA'AVAD. (Y. MONTROSE)