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May One Use White Wine For Kiddush?


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The fourth dibrah of the Asseres Hadibros that is read in this week’s parshah says, “Zachor es yom haShabbos lekadsho – remember to sanctify the Shabbos.” The Gemara in Pesachim 106a derives from this pasuk that one must recite Kiddush on Shabbos over a cup of wine. The Gemara in Baba Basra 97b asks whether one may use white wine, and answers that one may not – since only red wine is considered wine. It is unclear, however, if the Gemara is referring to Kiddush or only to nesachim for the korbanos. This is a machlokes between the Rishonim. The Rashbam explains that the Gemara is only inquiring regarding the nesachim for korbanos, and concerning Kiddush one may use white wine. The Ramban disagrees, saying that the Gemara is referring to Kiddush as well; and therefore one may not use white wine for Kiddush. The Nimukei Yosef in Baba Basra quotes this machlokes and says that one should only use white wine in a situation where one does not have red wine.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 272:4) quotes both opinions and says that the minhag of the world is to use white wine for Kiddush. The Shulchan Aruch adds that even according to the opinion of the Ramban that one may not use white wine for Kiddush, one may use it for Havdalah. The Vilna Gaon explains that this is because white wine is considered chamar medinah (a valuable drink); thus it may be used for Havdalah.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger, in his commentary to Shulchan Aruch, writes that according to this view one should be permitted to use white wine for Kiddush on Shabbos day – even according to the Ramban. This is so since one may use chamar medinah for Kiddush on Shabbos day, as it says in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 272:9). Rabbi Akiva Eiger adds that, similarly, all of the other wines that the Shulchan Aruch ruled may not be used for Kiddush on Friday night, such as wine with a bad smell or wine that was left open, may be used for Kiddush on Shabbos day – for the same reason, namely that they are still considered chamar medinah.

The Be’er Halacha, authored by the Mishnah Berurah, takes issue with Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s ruling. He says that even in accordance with the Ramban’s view that wine must be red, white wine cannot be compared to the other wines that may not be used for Kiddush on Friday night (such as wine that does not smell good). While it is true that all of these wines indeed fall into the category of chamar medinah, wine that does not smell good or that was left open is not fit for another reason: there is a rule that an item that is to be used for a korban must be presentable, for as the pasuk states, “Hakriveihu na l’pechasecha? – Would you present this to a nobleman?” Therefore, wine that does not smell good or that was left out cannot be used for Kiddush on Shabbos day or for Havdalah, since it is not considered a presentable item even though it may be valuable. On the other hand, white wine, even according to the Ramban’s opinion that it is not considered wine, is deemed presentable and thus may be used for Kiddush on Shabbos day and for Havdalah. The Birkei Yosef and the Beis Yehuda also say that one may not use the other wines that are unfit for Kiddush on Friday night, for Kiddush on Shabbos day or for Havdalah.

Perhaps we can explain that the machlokes between Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the other Achronim is dependent on a different question. Regarding the above mentioned halacha that an item that is to be brought for a korban must be presentable (see source above), does this only apply to korbanos or even to other mitzvos? The Rashbam in Baba Basra, on the previously mentioned Gemara, indicates that this halacha only applies to korbanos. The Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Mizbeach 7:11) says that one’s korban should be of the best and highest quality, and that the same rule applies for anything one is using to serve Hashem. The Baal Ha-Maor says that a dry lulav is unfit for use because of the halacha of hakriveihu na l’pechasecha. We see from this that he holds that this halacha applies to other mitzvos as well.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger seemingly does not believe that hakriveihu na l’pechasecha applies to all mitzvos, and therefore he allows one to use wines that are not presentable. Only regarding Kiddush on Friday night does the Gemara say that the wine has to be fit for a korban.

The other Achronim believe that the halacha of hakriveihu na l’pechasecha applies to all mitzvos, and therefore even for Kiddush on Shabbos day and for Havdalah one may not use wine that is not presentable.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


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