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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah

Folio 31a

[ii] Ordinary wine of heathens, from which it is likewise forbidden to derive any benefit whatsoever,1  and a quarter [of a log] of which renders drinks [or edibles] unclean;2  [iii] Wine [of an Israelite] that had been deposited with an idolater, which must not be drunk, but the benefit of it is permitted. But have we not learnt:3  'If one deposits his fruit with an idolater it is considered as if it were the idolater's own fruit as regards tithes or Sabbatical year's produce'?4  In our instance he assigned a separate corner to it.5  In that case it should be permissible for drinking also! For when R. Johanan happened to be in Parud6  he enquired if there was any Mishnah of Bar-Kappara [available], and R. Tanhum of Parud quoted to him [the following]: Wine which had been deposited with an idolater is permissible for drinking. Applying the verse, In the place where the tree falleth, there shall it be7  — [he commented:] How can it be assumed that there it shall be? But it means that there shall its fruit be!8  — R. Zera said: There is no contradiction here: the one is according to the opinion of R. Eliezer and the other according to that of the Rabbis, For it has been taught: If one buys or hires a house in a court of an idolater and stores wine therein, the key or seal of the place being in the charge of an Israelite, [such wine] is permitted by R. Eliezer but the Sages forbid it.9  R. Hiyya the son of R. Hiyya b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Hisda [who said it] in the name of Rab (some say that R. Hisda said it in the name of R. Ze'iri, while others report that R. Hisda said, I was told by Aba b. Harina that Ze'iri said it): The halachah rests with R. Eliezer.

R. Eleazar said: Everything is sufficiently guarded by one seal, except wine, which is not considered guarded by one seal. R. Johanan however said: Even wine is sufficiently guarded by one seal. And the one is not in conflict with the other, as the one follows the opinion of R. Eliezer, and the other, that of the Rabbis.10  Some have the following version: Said R. Eleazar: Everything is sufficiently guarded by a seal within another seal,11  except wine which is not guarded even by such double seal. R. Johanan however said: Even wine is guarded by a seal within a seal. Both these follow the opinion of the Rabbis, the one holding that the Rabbis only differ from R. Eliezer where there is but one seal, but if there is a seal within another seal they, too, permit it; while the other holds that even in the case of a double seal they forbid.

What, for example, is a seal within another seal? — Raba said: A basin placed over the opening of a barrel and joined to the barrel with a seal on it, is a seal within another seal, otherwise it is not so; or a basket fastened [over the stopper] is a seal within a seal, but if it is not fastened it is not a seal within a seal; a skin bottle within a bag with the closed opening of the skin bottle inside, is a seal within a seal, but if the opening is without, it is not a seal within a seal; if he bends in the closed opening of the skin bottle within and then ties the bottle up again and seals it, it is likewise considered a seal within a seal.

Our Rabbis taught: Formerly the ruling was that wine of En-Kusi12  is forbidden because of Birath-Sirika,13  that of Borkata14  is forbidden on account of Kefar-Parshai, and that of Zagdar is forbidden because of Kefar-Shalem;15  subsequently however this was altered thus: If in open barrels it is forbidden, but if in closed ones it is permitted. What was the opinion held formerly and what was the later opinion? — At first the opinion was held that a Cuthean is not particular about an idolater's coming in contact [with the wine] whether the barrels be open or closed; but subsequently they formed the opinion that only in the case of open ones they are not particular, but in the case of closed barrels they are very particular indeed.

Is it then permitted in the case of open barrels? But the following contradicts it:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [This is an extension of the prohibition of 'libation-wine'.]
  2. [V. Tosaf. Pes. 14a, for various explanations as to the necessity of a minimum quantity to communicate defilement. Maim. Yad, Aboth ha-Tume'oth, VII, 8, makes no mention of this reservation.]
  3. Dem. III, 4; Bek. 11b.
  4. It is not liable to tithe etc., as the idolater may have exchanged it for his own. Why, then, is the wine deposited with an idolater not regarded as such?
  5. The Israelite has thus made sure that it was not exchanged.
  6. Where Bar-Kappara, who was already dead, had resided. [Identified with El-Faradije, S.W. of Saffed, v. Klein, S. op. cit. p. 40.]
  7. Eccl. XI, 3.
  8. The teachings of the wise are preserved in the place where they had lived. According to him wine deposited with an idolater is thus permissible even for drinking, which is contrary to the ruling given above!
  9. For drinking only. V. Shab. 122a.
  10. The Sages. [For each Amora the matter had already been settled by a Tanna whom he followed, so that there was no need for him to make it a point of controversy with the other, so Tosaf.]
  11. V. infra.
  12. A place inhabited by Cutheans.
  13. A place in Samaria, whose inhabitants were idolaters, in close proximity of the former place. The same applies to each of the cases that follow.
  14. [Probably Borkeos on the boundary between Samaria and Judaea mentioned in Josephus, Wars, III, 3, 5, v. Montgomery, The Samaritans, p. 146.]
  15. [Perhaps Salem on the Jordan, south of Beth-Shean, Montgomery, loc. cit.]
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‘Abodah Zarah 31b

If one sends a cask of wine by the hand of a Cuthean, or of brine1  or muries2  by the hand of an idolater if he can identify his seal and the [spot and manner of] his closing up, it is permitted, but if not it is forbidden!3  — R. Zera said: There is no contradiction: The one refers to the town,4  the other to the open road.5  R. Jeremiah demurred to this: But did not that of the town come by road? — But, said R. Jeremiah: Our teaching only refers to [barrels closed in] the vicinity of the wine presses; since all the people are about there, he would be afraid [to let an idolater touch it] lest it be detected and he lose thereby.

It has been stated: Why has beer of heathens been forbidden? Rami b. Hama said in the name of R. Isaac: Because of marriages.6  R. Nahman said: Because it might have been left uncovered. 'Uncovered' when? If while in the vat — we also keep it uncovered;7  and if while in the barrel, in that state, too, we keep it uncovered!8  — It may only refer to a place where the water is allowed to settle.9  In that case it should be permitted when it matures, for Rab said:10  [Liqueur which is] matured is permitted, for [the venom] would not allow it to mature; [so also wine which is] fermented is permitted, for it would not have allowed it to ferment! — Matured is forbidden as a safeguard against the fresh. R. Papa used to drink beer when it was brought out to him to the door of the shop; R. Ahai used to drink it when it was brought to his house. Both of them held that the reason [for the prohibition] is intermarriage, but R. Ahai insisted on extraordinary precaution.

R. Samuel b. Bisna happened to be in Marguan;11  they brought him wine but he would not drink it, they then brought him beer which he did not drink either. It is quite correct as to the wine, as there is a suspicion, but what objection is there to the beer? There is the suspicion of a suspicion.12  Said Rab: 'Beer of an Aramean is permitted, still I would not allow my son Hiyya to drink it'. Which way will you have it? If it is permitted then it should be permitted to all; if [on the other hand] it is forbidden, it should be forbidden to all! — Rab suspects it of being left uncovered; but the bitter taste of the hops counteracts any venom that might be in it, so that it can only prove injurious to one who is an invalid, and his son Hiyya, being an invalid, should therefore abstain from drinking it.

Samuel said: All reptiles have poisonous venom; that of a serpent is fatal, while that of other reptiles has no fatal effect. Said Samuel to Hiyya b. Rab: O son of a scholar,13  come let me tell you a good thing which your father Rab used to say. Thus said your father: The reason why those swollen Arameans who drink what is kept uncovered suffer no fatal consequences is because, through eating abominable and creeping things, their bodies become immune from it. R. Joseph said:

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which the heathen might exchange for brine of unclean fish.
  2. [H] a kind of pickle sometimes mixed with wine.
  3. Though a Cuthean is not suspected of making idolatrous use of wine, it is feared that he might let an idolater get in contact with it even though it is in a sealed casket — which is contrary to the opinion here given.
  4. Where a Cuthean, fearing that he might be noticed by a Jew, would not allow an idolater to get in contact with the wine and thus be unable to dispose of it among Israelites.
  5. Where there is no-one to notice him.
  6. To avoid intimacy with heathens which might lead to intermarriage.
  7. As it is assumed that serpents do not drink beer. [According to R. Han. this had to be done in order to allow the fumes to escape.]
  8. [As otherwise the barrels would burst as a result of the fermentation, R. Han.]
  9. Before being used for making beer; there is thus the danger of the water having been exposed. [R. Han. explains: Where water is added to the beer to make it settle, there being thus no fermentation.]
  10. V. infra 35a, where the name given is R. Hanina.
  11. The Jewish inhabitants of which place were not particular about using wine of idolaters. [Neubauer, p. 380, identifies it with the province of Margiana between the Oxus and Aria.]
  12. The drinking of beer may lead to drinking wine.
  13. [H] Ms.M. has [H] some versions have [H] — son of a lion. V. Ber. 12a and Kohut s.v.
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