Photo Credit: Courtesy Or HaGanuz vineyard
Or Haganuz winery workers

The Or Haganuz boutique winery on Sunday held a festive ceremony for tithing their annual product – winner of countless international tasting competitions – which involved spilling about 4,000 liters (1,056 gallons) of the winery’s fine wine. In the time of the Temple, this wine would have been sent to Jerusalem for the use of the Cohanim (priests), but since this cannot be done nowadays, the thithed amount is forbidden to use by its owner or any layman, Kikar Hashabbat reported.

The ceremony was attended by the rabbis of the Badatz—the rabbinical court of the Haredi community in Jerusalem which also supervises the kashrut of the winery. Also on hand were the regional rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Elmasheli, and the Rabbi of the Or Haganuz community, the kabalistic Rabbi Mordechai Sheinberger.

The Or HaGanuz vineyard in summer and winter / Courtesy Or HaGanuz vineyard

Or HaGanuz is a Haredi cooperative settlement near the grave-site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the eastern Upper Galilee, in northern Israel, about 3.5 miles northwest of Tsfat. In 2018 it had a population of 548. The winery is managed by the community, which encourages a lifestyle of work alongside studying the internal light of the Torah. All the winery employees are residents of the community.

The winery’s chief winemaker, Rabbi Aharon Ziv, was asked how he feels when he watches such enormous quantities of wine being poured into the gutter after having invested so much effort in producing them, and replied: “This is a special donation and tithing event. It is a time of very great joy. In a different context, just as the more income tax you pay, the more profit you made, likewise, the more wine you pour out, the more wine you made.”

However, Rabbi Ziv explained, “What you poured out is actually what really belongs to you. Money comes and money goes, but the mitzvah you kept when you poured 4,000 liters of the wine’s donations and tithing – this mitzvah will remain yours forever.”