Kosher Wine: Yayin Nesech, Stam Yeinam, and Maga Akum
There are three concepts at hand: Yayin Nesech refers to wine that was actually used for idolatrous wine libations, Stam Yeynam is wine owned by non-Jews, and Maga Akum, is Jewish wine touched by a non-Jew. Yayin Nesech is prohibited in benefit (Assur BeHan'ah) on a Torah level, like all items associated with Avodah Zarah, but Stam Yeynam and Maga Akum are prohibited by the Chachamim for two reasons. Firstly, to prevent intermarriage, they prohibited one from drinking non-Jewish wine, as wine brings people together. In addition, the prohibition was extended from just not drinking to not getting any benefit from both Stam Yeynam and Maga Akum, because there's a chance that it was used or moved by the non-Jew with intent to pour for his idol.
- Even if the wine is permitted in benefit, it may still be prohibited to do business with such products according to some.
- Baring life threatening circumstances, one may not get any benefit from Yayin Nesech, even in an abnormal manner (Shelo Kederech Hanaato), such as bathing, but Ashkenazim are lenient.
Kinds of Wine Subject to the Prohibition
- Maga Akum can only prohibit wine, not vinegar, but if the vinegar had been touched while it was still wine, the fermentation does not remove the Issur.
- Some were concerned that one would mistake vinegar for wine that's still fermenting, or that each person has a different sense for distinguishing between wine and vinegar, so they assume that what we call vinegar is still problematic. Some disagree entirely, but, many recommend following the strict view in when it would serve as a safeguard against intermarriage. In practice, we are stringent unless the liquid bubbles like vinegar when poured on the ground. Many Acharonim, however, do say that if it's not drank as wine anymore, there's room to be lenient, especially if the Non-Jew was a not an idol worshiper.
- If vinegar from a barrel bubbles intensely when poured, one can assume it has been vinegar for at least three days and any contact with Non-Jews is irrelevant.
- Some claim that modern day vinegar is not the same vinegar as in the times of the Talmud, because even industrial vinegar does not bubble as described,, but others find basis for this test in modern day science as a measure of acidity (the reverse of titration testing done in factories).
- We are stringent to assume liquid from unripened grapes (Boser) is subject to Maga Akum.
- Wine spirits (Aguardiente), such as arak, are included in the definition of wine, unless it was previously Mevushal. This applies even if it's a product of the pulp and pips.
Mevushal and Mefustar
- The Chachamim did not include cooked wine in their Gezeirah, because it's not fit for idol worship. While the Geonim define "cooking" for these purposes as boiling, the Yerushalmi says some of the wine must evaporate. Some say that they're one and the same and boiling is really sufficient, while others require a change of taste and/or minimizing of alcohol content. Therefore, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul argue that pasteurization cannot be considered cooking, because the vapor is mixed right back into the wine; Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Ovadia claim boiling is what it hinges on and evaporation is just a sign of it but not necessary. Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Ovadia require pasteurization to a temperature exceeding or 175˚ F, respectively, and the Tzelemer Rav insisted on a minimum 190˚ F. On this basis OU permits wines that undergo flash pasteurization to be labeled either as mevushal or mifustar.
Other Grape Products
- Even though grape seeds are subject to the prohibition and one cannot get benefit from them for twelve months until they dry and are then washed, grape seed oil is not subject to Stam Yeynam.
- Grape seed extract made of seeds needs a Hashgacha to ensure it was removed within twenty-four hours since crushing.
- Tartaric Acid, a byproduct of winemaking (Tamtzit SheNikrash), is permitted after rinsing off of sediment or waiting twelve months, but nowadays, since it's refined to remove all impurities, it is immediately acceptable.
- Since Stam Yeynam is only MiDeRabbanan, there is much room to be lenient in situations of Safek, especially with Yishmaelim.
- If wine is mixed with enough honey, spices, or other ingredients that change its taste, it cannot become assur via Maga Akum.
- The Rambam uniquely cites the position of the Geonei HaMaarav, who held that even a little bit of honey or spice can prevent wine from becoming subject to Maga Akum. Although this opinion has not been accepted by many, the Minhag in Egypt for generations was to be lenient like the Rambam, as all their wine came from Crete and adding honey was the only means of ensuring it wouldn't become prohibited by Maga Akum. the Radbaz permits such wine touched by a Yishmaeli on these grounds and in situations of great loss and also allows mixing the touched wine with other wine to nullify it.
- If kosher wine was mixed into a solid food to the point that it's no longer discernable, it cannot become prohibited via Maga Akum, even if the dish is still raw. If it is discernable, it can become prohibited, unless the taste of the wine has changed.
- Depending on the ratio, watered down wine can be subject to Maga Akum, as long as the water ruins the taste of the wine. Due to the great subjectivity of the matter, it was omitted from Shulchan Aruch, but the Rama writes how a 1:6 ratio could be enough to nullify the taste of the wine.
- In general, Yayin Nesech cannot be nullified by wine (Min BeMino), just as regular Avodah Zarah, if wine is mixed with Mevushal wine and honey, some say the honey nullifies the regular wine to prevent it from becoming prohibited via touch, while others say treat the Mevushal wine like water and nullify it accordingly or even with Rov.
- Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe YD 2:62) held like the Taz 114:4 holds that wine is nullified one in six. See further www.crcweb.org/Sherry%20Casks%202.pdf p. 31.
Who Can Prohibit Wine
- The touch of adult idol worshipers prohibits wine from both drinking and benefit, but children can only prohibit drinking. The status of child changes to adult, regardless of age, when he begins to carry the name of his god and accessories on his lips, because the frequency of his mentioning the idol implies that he might be thinking about if when pouring wine, as well. Just mentioning the name of his god in passing because that's common jargon (such as when saying "for so and so's sake!" or when speaking profanely) does not register as the necessary familiarity to pass the threshold of childhood.
- Muslims are not idol worshippers, so their wine and wine they touch is only prohibited from drinking, because of intermarriage. Rishonim and Acharonim unanimously voice this ruling. Their touch without Kavanna will not prohibit the wine at all, because the Gezeirah against Maga Akum stems primarily from wariness of Avodah Zarah, not intermarriage. These rulings apply to all non idol worshipping Non-Jew and to those from an idolatrous nation who accepts upon himself to not worship idols.
- According to the Baalei HaTosafot, Christians of our times are not true idol worshippers, so wine they touch or own is only prohibited from drinking, not benefit. This has far reaching ramifications throughout Hilchot Yayin Nesech, primarily for Ashkenazim. In fact, the Shach and Taz comment consistently how each ruling throughout these Simanim in Shulchan Aruch does not apply completely. Often times, they bump the prohibition down one level, so, if something is prohibited from benefit, they often say it's only prohibited from drinking, and, if only from drinking, then it's completely permitted. Obviously, each case must be evaluated individually, but the foreknowledge of how their perspective and general Derech HaPesak in this area should prove valuable.
- A Ger Toshav and a conversion candidate who underwent Brit Milah but not Tevilah, only prohibits wine from drinking, not benefit, as they have left the fold of idolatry but haven't entered the Jewish family - intermarriage is still prohibited. Even according to the lenient opinion in these cases, the leniency only extends to his touch; his own wine is still prohibited from drinking.
- An Eved purchased from a Non-Jew no longer prohibits wine with his touch once he has Milah and Tevilah even if they don't yet act like Jews and hasn't yet ceased to mention the names of his gods. If they did not yet have a Tevilah, the wine they touch would be prohibited from benefit.
- The adult circumcised children born in Jewish dominion to Shefachot who haven't gone to the Mikveh can still prohibit wine from drinking , but the young ones don't even prohibit it at all.
- If the Shefachot did go to the Mikveh already, then their children cannot prohibit wine, regardless of age or Milah.
- A Jew who rejects Judaism for Avodah Zarah prohibits wine with his, but he's also believable if he says he did Teshuvah. Meanwhile, a Jew who is rejects other Mitzvot, such as a Mumar LeOrlot (known to reject the Mitzvah of Brit Milah), cannot prohibit wine with his touch.
- Anusim (conversos), no matter how well meaning, are suspect of Halachic infidelity and also not in a position to guard their wine from the touch of Non-Jews; therefore, one may not drink their wine or believe them even under oath regarding its status. However, they may be believed regarding other people's wine, and their touch doesn't qualify as Maga Akum. Of course, this is only true if they remain loyal to Halacha at home and only put on an outward facade of conversion, but, if they ever abandon Halacha at home, even if they kept Halacha at the beginning of their conversion, they are no different from the Goyim.
|Maga (Touch)||Direct (Yad)||
|Maga||Direct||Lacking any of the three||Muttar BeHanaah
|Maga||Indirect (Al Yidei Davar Acher)||All three||Assur BeHana'ah|
|Maga||Indirect||Not for Wine
or not for Touch (Lacking #1 or #2)
|Maga||Indirect||Busy with other
|Kocho (Force)||Yes||Muttar BeHanaah
|Koach Kocho||Yes||Bediavad Muttar|
Touch (Maga Akum)
- Wine can only be prohibited in benefit from Non-Jewish touch if three conditions are met:
- He intended to touch it, unlike a child who has no kavanna
- He knows that it's wine
- He's not busy with other activities
- Some say that if an idolater shakes an open bottle, even without picking it up or touching the wine, the contents still become prohibited in benefit, but many disagree. Some say that shaking is not the same as stirring, and one should not be stringent in cases of great loss. Only if he picks it up and shakes is it prohibited. Meanwhile, others are lenient even in that case, because shaking cannot prohibit wine; only stirring can.
- If he picks it up and pours, even without shaking, that which was poured out is prohibited (the contents are up to debate).
- If he picked it up and put it right back down without shaking or touching the contents, it's permitted. Similarly, just touching the bottle creates no prohibition.
- If something is already touching the wine and the idolater touches it, the wine is not prohibited at all, as it's no worse than touching the bottle alone, even if he explicitly states he's doing so with idolatrous.
- A Winepress in Ancient Israel - a really handy diagram of what an ancient winepress (a "Gat") looked like.
- THE ART OF KOSHER WINE MAKING (Star-K) - Essential background information to learning Hilchot Yayin Nesech
- Sherry Casks (cRc) - A Comprehensive Overview of Scotch Production and its Kashrus Implications
- Sherry Casks (OU Daf HaKashrus Consumer Edition ISSUE 1 | PURIM 5774)
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:1
- Rama Yoreh Deah 123:1. See Shach Yoreh Deah 123:4, Pitchei Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 123:1, and Yabia Omer (vol. 8 Yoreh Deah Siman 13)
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:2
- Rama Yoreh Deah 155:3. See Shach ad loc.
- Avodah Zarah 29b and 30a, Rambam (Hilchot Maachalot Assurot 11:13)
- Rabbeinu Tam against Rabbeinu Meshulam, quoted in numerous Rishonim on Avodah Zarah 29b and Sefer HaYashar (Chelek HaTeshuvot 47:4) and agreed with by the Rosh (Avodah Zarah 2:13) and Tur (Yoreh Deah 123:6). The Ramban, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah, Ritva, and Ran all add that Rabbeinu Tam admits that something can be considered vinegar twelve months since it has fermented. Note how they quote Rashi and the Geonim as holding that although one may benefit from vinegar touched by a Goy, one may not eat or drink it with a few varying details.
- Rashba in Torat HaBayit 5:3
- Ramban, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah, Ritva, and Ran Avodah Zarah 30a
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:6
- Yayin leNasech ad loc. by Rav David Teherani
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:7. See Shu"t Shema Shlomo (vol 3 Yoreh Deah Siman 6)
- Does Wine Vinegar Present a Concern of Stam Yeinam? (OU Kosher). See also BALSAMIC VINEGAR: SOUR GRAPES OR SOUR SWEET SUCCESS (Star-K) regarding contemporary vinegar production.
- Daf HaKashrus 26.10, Alcoholic Beverages #33 (123:6-8) (Wine Vinegar – stam yayin, berachos) by R' Dovid Cohen (cRc)
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:8.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:24). See Kaf HaChaim Orach Chaim 202:16
- Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:18, Nehar Mitzrayim Hilchot Yayin Nesech 5
- Pitchei Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 123:17
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:3
- Shu"t Minchat Shlomo Kamma Siman 25
- Shu"t Ohr LeTzion vol. 2 20:18 (not 20:19, as is often mistakenly cited)
- Shu"t Iggerot Moshe Yoreh Deah vol. 3 Siman 31
- Yabia Omer vol. 8 Yoreh Deah 15 and vol. 9 Orach Chaim 108:134
- MIFUSTAR – IS IT MEVUSHAL? (Daf HaKashrus, by Rav Eli Gersten). See Shu"t Shema Shlomo (vol 3 Yoreh Deah Siman 6).
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:14
- Shu"t Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 117), Shu"t Yabia Omer (vol. 7 Yoreh Deah Siman 11). Reasons include that it's changed from its original form, dried beforehand, might not have had Hamshachah, and there's no taste of the wine in the oil, which is extracted alone. Rav Hershel Schachter questions if factory storage counts towards twelve months, and Rav Yisroel Belsky requires that we ascertain that the Kelim were kashered properly. (Lo Basi Ela LeOrer: Byproducts of Wine (Daf ha-kashrus Iyar 5769/ May 2009 Vol. 17 / No. 8))
- Lo Basi Ela LeOrer: Byproducts of Wine (Daf ha-kashrus Iyar 5769/ May 2009 Vol. 17 / No. 8)
- See Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:13 about Potassium bitartrate), Lo Basi Ela LeOrer: Byproducts of Wine (Daf ha-kashrus Iyar 5769/ May 2009 Vol. 17 / No. 8)
- Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:2. See also Yabia Omer (vol. 7 Yoreh Deah 11:4)
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:4)
- Rambam Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 11:10
- Shiurei Bracha 5. See Pe'at David ad loc that the Radbaz elsewhere only permits it in cases of Safek. See Nehar Mitzrayim (Hilchot Yayin Nesech 8) and Shelulit HaNahar (ad loc.) at length regarding the Radbaz, as well as Shu"t Shemesh uMagen (vol. 3 Yoreh Deah 11-15), Shu"t Divrei Benayahu (vol. 2 Siman 15-22), and Shu"t Shema Shlomo (vol 3 Yoreh Deah 4-5)
- Shiurei Bracha Yoreh Deah 123:6
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:5
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 123:8)
- Rama Yoreh Deah 123:5. Shach ad loc writes how one can be lenient like the former approach in a case of great loss or if the custom is such. The Chida (Shiurei Beracha Yoreh Deah 123:4) points out how a Rov of Mevushal wine is insufficient.
- Shach Yoreh Deah 124:1
- Avodah Zarah 57a, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:1
- Perishah Yoreh Deah 124:1
- Taz Yoreh Deah 124:1
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:?, see Shiurei Bracha and Shirei Shirayim Yoreh Deah 123:1, Birkei Yosef Yoreh Deah 4, and Pe'at David footnote ad loc.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:7, Nehar Mitzrayim Hilchot Yayin Nesech Shelilut HaNahar 3
- Beit Yosef Yoreh Deah 124:7, Shach Yoreh Deah 124:12
- Rama Yoreh Deah 123:1 and 124:24
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama Yoreh Deah 124:2
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:3
- Shach Yoreh Deah 124:7, see Biur HaGra Yoreh Deah 124:8
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:4. The Shach Yoreh Deah 124:8 is upset, as the Rambam's words, which are the source for this ruling of Shulchan Aruch, make no mention of drinking; rather, they imply the wine is prohibited from all benefit! Regardless, he concludes that Ashkenazim are lenient nowadays with respect to benefit in cases of loss, so the Halacha is the same. See Biur HaGRA Yoreh Deah 124:9. The Taz Yoreh Deah 124:3 thinks that even Maga of Ketanim who don't have Milah would be Muttar beShetiah. The Shach Yoreh Deah 124:9 concurs for a different reason.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:5 writes this as a Yesh Mi SheOmer, either because only the Tashbetz (vol. 1 Siman 170) states this seemingly obvious Halacha, or because it would be in opposition to a Ramban in Yevamot (R' Akiva Eiger ad loc.)
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:8
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama Yoreh Deah 124:9
- Rama Yoreh Deah 124:9
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:10
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:11-12
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:11
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:24
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:19,24, and commentaries ad loc.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 125:1
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 125:1
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 125:2
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:10
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:17
- Rama Yoreh Deah 124:17. The Noda BeYehudah (Shu"t Noda BeYehudah Tinyana Yoreh Deah 69, Dagul Mervava Yoreh Deah 124:15, Yad Ephraim Yoreh Deah 124:14) posits this is only true by true idolaters, but for Christians, we can be lenient even if he picks it up and shakes it, as it's no worse than touching it with an object without intention. R' Akiva Eiger (ad loc.) is lenient, as well. Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 124:3) cites the next Teshuvah, in which the Noda BeYehudah argues to be machmir for Rashi if the bottle is full, unless it's vinegar, in which case we can be lenient, since it's already a Safek.
- Taz Yoreh Deah 124:15. The Nekudot HaKesef 4 argues that he misread the Rashba.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:18. If he didn't pick it up, it seems like it would be permitted, as per the Beit Yosef ad loc.
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama Yoreh Deah 124:18
- Shulchan Aruch, Rama, and Biur HaGRA Yoreh Deah 124:21