Halacha for Sunday 26 Cheshvan 5780 November 24 2019              

Halacha Date: 26 Cheshvan 5780 November 24 2019

Category: Kashrut


The Laws of a Jew Who is Not Shabbat-Observant Regarding Wine

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the enactment of our Sages that all non-Jewish wine or wine touched by a non-Jew is forbidden for consumption. There are instances where the wine will be forbidden to benefit from as well as we have discussed.

A Non-Observant Jew
Our Sages taught that a Jew who does not observe Torah and Mitzvot, especially one who desecrates Shabbat, is referred to a “wayward Jew.” Indeed, the law of a Jew who desecrates the Shabbat is equal to that of a non-Jew who touches wine and the wine will be forbidden for consumption.

A Wayward Jew for His Own Benefit vs. Rebellion  
Nevertheless, the Poskim discuss two kinds of “wayward Jews”: The first is a Jew who disregards one or more of the Mitzvot of the Torah in order to rebel against Hashem. The second, more common kind is a Jew who desecrates Shabbat because he wishes to fulfill his individual desires.

The vast majority of non-observant Jews nowadays are not considered to be doing so out of rebellion, for most Jews nowadays who desecrate Shabbat do so as a result of the incorrect education they received as children and they are not aware of the severity of their actions.

A Wayward Jew for His Own Benefit
Even so, such a Jew who is non-observant as a result of  his incorrect  upbringing retains the same law as a non-Jew regarding wine, for Shabbat desecration is more severe than other sins since one who desecrates Shabbat shows that he does not believe in Hashem’s creation of the world and thus, he prohibits the wine he touches.  Although such a Jew retains his sanctity since “a Jew who has sinned is nevertheless a Jew,” nonetheless, until he repents for his sinful ways, this Jew retains the law of a non-Jew regarding wine.

Public Shabbat Desecration
Nevertheless, the above only applies when the individual desecrates Shabbat by performing works forbidden by Torah law, such as driving a car on Shabbat which entails several Torah prohibitions, including ignition and the like. Likewise, this Jew must desecrate the Shabbat in front of at least ten other Jews in order to retain the law of a non-Jew regarding wine. However, if the individual desecrates Shabbat privately, he is not considered a “wayward Jew” in this regard. Unfortunately, most non-Shabbat-observant Jews nowadays do so publicly by driving their cars around heavily populated areas on Shabbat.

The Bottom Line
Based on the above, if a Jew who is not Shabbat observant pours a cup of wine for another Jew, the wine is forbidden for consumption similar to the law regarding wine poured by a non-Jew. Thus, those who go out to eat in restaurants must make sure that a Jewish waiter who is not Shabbat-observant does not pour them wine, for this will render the wine in the glass forbidden for consumption. Nevertheless, if the waiter did not pour the wine and merely opened the bottle, the wine in the bottle does not become forbidden for consumption. Similarly, if such a waiter did pour the wine, only the wine in the glass is forbidden for consumption but the wine remaining in the bottle is permitted.

A Jew Who Desecrates Shabbat but Makes Kiddush
Hagaon Harav Yaakov Ettlinger zt”l writes in his Responsa Binyan Zion (Ha’Chadashot, Chapter 23) that although a Jew who desecrates Shabbat prohibits wine by touching it, nevertheless, those Jews nowadays who recite Shabbat prayers, recite Kiddush, and then proceed to desecrate Shabbat by performing works forbidden by Torah and rabbinic law do not prohibit wine by touching it. This is because the entire reason why a Jew who desecrates Shabbat retains the same law as a non-Jew is because by desecrating Shabbat, he appears to be in denial of the fact that Hashem created the world and is subsequently tantamount to transgressing the entire Torah. However, one who recites Kiddush and explicitly recites the words “And the heavens and the earth were completed etc.” cannot be considered a heretic and does not forbid wine by touching it. Although many Poskim agree to this opinion, some disagree. Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that one who relies on this opinion has on whom to rely.

Summary: Wine touched by a Jew who desecrates the Shabbat publicly is forbidden as though it were touched by a non-Jew. It is for this reason that kosher wine manufacturers take care that the entire process of the wine production is carried out by Shabbat-observant Jews. If a non-Shabbat-observant Jew pours wine into a glass, the wine in the glass is forbidden for consumption. However, the wine remaining in the bottle is nevertheless permitted for consumption. Some say that if a non-Shabbat-observant Jew recites Shabbat prayers and Kiddush, he does not retain the law of a non-Jew and he does not prohibit wine by touching it. Others disagree. One who acts leniently in this regard has on whom to rely.

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