More Discussions for this daf
1. Yayin Nesech 2. Wine versus Grape-Juice

Nechemyah Eliyahu Davis asks:

My questions comes more out of curiosity more than anything.

I do remember learning the gemara in avadah zara on yayin nesech, but don't remember reading about a goy " looking" at any yayin. I did learn that if a goy touches yayin that is not mevushal, the yayin becomes unfit for consumption.

So my question is: Where did the minhag of not letting nochrim look at the wine come from. For example my Shabbos host this last week told me that he hides his wine, so that the nochri who cleans his house wont look at it on cleaning the house. I wanted to know the validity of such a chumrah.

Nechemyah Eliyahu Davis, Brooklyn, NY, USA

The Kollel replies:

(While we make every effort to respond to every question promptly, once in a while a question somehow slips through the cracks. We found that your question had not been addressed, and so we are now sending you an answer. Our apologies.)

1) The earliest source I have found for this Chumrah is in the Sefer "Ta'amei ha'Mitzvos" (by Rav Menachem ha'Bavli). The author lived in the 16th century in Hebron. His Sefer is often cited by the Shelah ha'Kadosh (although not on this particular issue).

2) Negative Mitzvah #360 in Ta'amei ha'Mitzvos is based on the verse, "They will drink their Yayin Nesech" (Devarim 32:38). Rav Menachem ha'Bavli writes:

"I saw in my youth men of deeds who were stringent upon themselves, who did not want to drink wine which a Nochri had even looked at without touching. Once he has put his eyes on this wine there is no longer a sign of Berachah. This is a Minhag Vasikin (an ancient custom of pious people). Once an uncircumcised man (a Nochri) has seen the color of the wine or smelled it, he desired it with his thoughts, and one can assume that the standard thought of a Nochri is for Avodah Zarah. So even though the wine is in the possession of the Yisrael, the Nochri already has a picture of the wine in his Seichel. Do not be amazed about the Dikduk of this Chumrah, because someone who is careful on it will merit the reward of the preserved wine in its grapes which makes Hash-m happy with its Berachos."

3) The idea of the "preserved wine" refers to Berachos 34b and Sanhedrin 99a, where Rebbi Yehoshau ben Levi says that the verse, "No eye ever saw Hash-m apart from you" (Yeshayah 64:3), means that there are some people who will merit driniking the wine preserved in its grapes from the six days of Creation.

4) Rav Menachem ha'Bavli adds that one who drinks only wine which no eye has seen will merit such a reward.

5) The words of the Ta'amei ha'Mitzvos on this matter are cited by the Midrash Talpiyos (by Rav Eliyahu ha'Kohen, the author of Shevet Musar, who lived in Izmir, Turkey, in the 17-18th century), letter "Yud," branch "Yayin," DH b'Sefer. The Midrash Talpiyos is cited by Rav Efrayim Greenblatt zt'l in Teshuvos Rivevos Efrayim 3:491(2). (It is recommended to look up the Rivevos Efraim inside.)

6) I should just add that there exists wine with a Hechser which says on the label, "Without sight of the eyes." Clearly, some Kashrut authorities have accepted this Chumrah. Of course, it is not logical to be Machmir on this at home if the company was not Machmir on it during the manufacturing process.

Chanukah Same'ach, and may we all be Xocheh to the "Yayin ha'Meshumar"!

Dovid Bloom