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Red, White and Not Blue


Question:

Why does wine play such an important role in Judaism? At Passover we drink four cups, the blessing of “Kiddush” is said on Shabbat and Holidays with a cup of wine, and I’ve seen it used for many other ritual occasions. Thank you.



AskTheRabbi.org answered:

The grapevine is described in the Torah as supplying a drink that “gladdens God and men” (Judges 9:13). Our Talmudic Masters ask, “That wine gladdens men is understood, but how does it gladden God?”

Their answer is that the Levites in the Temple offered their praise to God in music and song only when the wine libations that accompanied the sacrifices were being poured on the altar.

Although there is a general blessing that is said before consuming any fruit, a special blessing is made before drinking wine. The reason for this special blessing is that wine is unique in its ability to both satiate and gladden.

However, it is essential to note that caution must be exercised with wine. Due to its alcoholic content, it can lead to sadness and tragedy as well as bring happiness. The Talmud states, “There is nothing which brings so much sorrow to man as does wine.” This is a stern warning against intoxication induced by something with a capacity for bringing joy when used in moderation.

In today’s society, when there is a serious problem of drinking and driving, I have heard of numerous people and organizations that have adopted a “zero alcohol tolerance policy”. They promote substituting grape juice for wine whenever wine would be traditionally called for, and this approach is definitely acceptable.


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