Wine Stringencies and Beer Leniencies: What We Can Learn from the Difference
אלא על פיתן ושמנן משום יינן ועל יינן משום בנותיהן ועל בנותיהן משום דבר אחר ועל דבר אחר משום ד"א

Rather, they issued a decree prohibiting their bread and their oil due to their wine. And they issued the decree prohibiting their wine due to the fact that this leads to familiarity, and Jews will come to marry their daughters. And they issued a decree prohibiting their daughters due to something else, idolatry. And they further issued a decree on something else due to something else

א"ר אסי א"ר יוחנן משום ר' יהודה בן בתירא שלשה יינות הן יין נסך אסור בהנאה ומטמא טומאה חמורה בכזית סתם יינם אסור בהנאה ומטמא טומאת משקין ברביעית המפקיד יינו אצל עובד כוכבים אסור בשתיה ומותר בהנאה
Rabbi Asi says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira: There are three kinds of prohibited wines: It is prohibited to derive benefit from wine used for a libation, and the wine imparts severe ritual impurity when it has the volume of an olive-bulk. It is prohibited to derive benefit from nondescript wine of a gentile, and the wine imparts the ritual impurity of liquids when it has the volume of one-quarter of a log. With regard to the wine of one who deposits his wine with a gentile, one is prohibited from drinking it, but one is permitted to derive benefit from it.

אתמר מפני מה אסרו שכר של עובדי כוכבים רמי בר חמא אמר רבי יצחק משום חתנות רב נחמן אמר משום גילוי...

רב פפא מפיקין ליה לאבבא דחנותא ושתי

רב אחאי מייתו ליה לביתיה ושתי

ותרוייהו משום חתנות רב אחאי עביד הרחקה יתירתא

רב שמואל בר ביסנא איקלע למרגואן אייתו ליה חמרא ולא אשתי אייתו ליה שיכרא ולא אשתי

בשלמא חמרא משום שימצא שיכרא משום מאי משום שימצא דשימצא

It was stated: Why did the Sages prohibit the beer of gentiles? Rami bar Ḥama says that Rabbi Yitzḥak says: For fear that they will marry them.

Rav Naḥman said: Out of fear of exposure...

Rav Pappa had them bring out the beer belonging to gentiles from the store to the entrance of the store, and he would drink it there.

Rav Aḥai had them bring the beer to his house, and he would drink it there.

And both of them did so out of concern for marriage with gentiles. Rav Aḥai established an extreme preventive measure for himself beyond what is required by halakha.

Rav Shmuel bar Bisna happened to come to Marguan, and they brought him wine but he did not drink it. Next they brought him beer but he did not drink it. Granted, he did not drink the wine due to the suspicion of libations, but why did he not drink the beer? It was due to a suspicion of a suspicion, i.e., he did not drink beer due to concern about drinking wine.

F.W. Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond (a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror.)

As the sum stands, we are at present proposing to give to each person a great deal more wheat-flour than would be obtained if the total amount consumed now-a-days in the United Kingdom were divided by the number of its inhabitants’. But it need hardly be said that the problem is far more complex than are our figures. In the first place, we have to withdraw from the men of 1086 a large quantity, perhaps more than a half, of the wheat-flour that we have given them in order to supply its place with other cereals, in particular with barley and oats, much of which, together with some of the wheat’, will be consumed in the form of beer. And who shall fathom that ocean ? Multum biberunt de cerevisia Anglicana, as the pope said. Their choice lay for the more part between beer and water. In the twelfth century the corn-rents paid to the bishop of Durham often comprised malt, wheat and oats in equal quantities’. In the next century the economy of the canons of S‘. Paul’s was so arranged that for every 30 quarters of wheat that went to make bread, 7 quarters of wheat, 7 of barley and 32 of oats went to make beer.

The weekly allowance of every canon included 30 gallons. In one year their brewery seems to have produced 67,814 gallons from 175 quarters of wheat, a like quantity of barley and 708 quarters of oats’. With such figures before us, it becomes a serious question whether we can devote less than a third of the sown land to the provision of drink. The monk, who would have growled if he got less than a gallon a day, would, we may suppose, consume in the course of a year 20 bushels of barley or an equivalent amount of other grain : in other words, the produce, when seed-corn is deducted, of from two to three acres of land; and perhaps to every mouth in England we must give half a gallon daily.

ותרוייהו משום חתנות רב אחא עביד הרחקה יתירתא - ומ"מ שניהן לא היו שותין בבית העובד כוכבים

וא"כ צריך ליזהר שלא לשתות שכר בבית העובד כוכבים דהא רב פפא ורב אחא שהיו בתראי לא היו שותין

ומיהו המתאכסן בבית העובד כוכבים יכול להיות שמותר לשלוח בעיר לקנות שכר מן העובדי כוכבים דהוי כמו בביתו של ישראל ואף אם העובד כוכבים אכסנאי שלו נותן לו משלו (ושותה) משום איבה דלא אסרו משום חתנות אלא לקבוע שתיה בחנות או ברגילות לשתות בבית העובדי כוכבים

And both of them prohibited it because of the concern for marriage...

In any case neither of them would drink in the house of the Gentile. And if so, one must be cautious not to drink in the house of a non-Jew, for R. Papa and R. Aha were the last of the amoraim and they would not drink there.

However, one who is lodging at the house of a non-Jew, it could be that it is permitted to send him to town to buy beer from the non-Jews, for this is like the Jew's home.

And even if the non-Jew gives him his own beer and he drinks, it is permitted to prevent enmity. For they only prohibited drinking because of the fear of marriage in a case where one was drinking regularly in the store or in the house of a non-Jew.

ספר התרומה הלכות עכו"ם סימן קנז

רב פפא הוי מפקין ליה שכרא אבבא דחנוותא ושתי. רב אחא מייתו ליה לביתיה ושתי. תרוייהו סברי משום חתנות ורב אחא עביד הרחקה יתירה. וסתם יינן דאסור משום בנותיהן אפי' בבית ישראל אסור דאיכא טפי קרובי דעתא מבשכר.

Sefer Haterumah

Rav Pappa had them bring out the beer belonging to gentiles from the store to the entrance of the store, and he would drink it there.

Rav Aḥai had them bring the beer to his house, and he would drink it there.

And both of them did so out of concern for marriage. Rav Aḥai established an extreme preventive measure.

But with wine which is prohibited lest one come to marry their daughters, even in the Jew's house it is prohibited for wine brings people closer than beer.

אין דכי אתא רב דימי אמר פעם אחת יצא רבי לשדה והביא עובד כוכבים לפניו פת פורני מאפה סאה

אמר רבי כמה נאה פת זו מה ראו חכמים לאוסרה מה ראו חכמים משום חתנות אלא מה ראו חכמים לאוסרה בשדה ..

איבו הוה מנכית ואכיל פת אבי מצרי אמר להו רבא ואיתימא רב נחמן בר יצחק לא תשתעו בהדיה דאיבו דקאכיל לחמא דארמאי:

The Gemara answers: Yes, as when Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: Once Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi went out to the field, and a gentile brought before him a se’a of bread baked in a large baker’s oven [purnei]. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: How exquisite is this loaf of bread! What did the Sages see to prohibit it? The Gemara asks: What did the Sages see! It was prohibited due to the concern that it would lead to marriage.Rather, he asked: What did the Sages see that caused them to prohibit bread even in the field?...

Aivu would bite and eat bread of gentiles at the boundaries of the fields. Rava said to the students in the study hall, and some say that it was Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak who said to them: Do not speak with Aivu, as he eats bread of Arameans.

ראבי"ה תשובות וביאורי סוגיות סימן אלף ס

ובספר הישר כתב הכי, מפני מה אסרו שכר של גוים, לא מצינו שום איסור בשכר מדברי התנאים אלא שהאמוראים חזרו ביה חשש חתנות ולא כל כך כמו בפת שאפאו גוי שהרי זה השכר שלנו היקלו שהוא נעשה ממנו הוא נאכל כמות שהוא חי ובבית ישראל מותר אם בשלו גוי בבית ישראל והואיל ואין בו משום בישולי גוים לית ביה משום חתנות....

ולא עמדתי על דבריו שא"כ אפילו בשלו גוי בבית גוי מותר לשתותו, ...

מכל מקום גבי שכר שלנו הנעשים מתבואה המיושנת, דהיינו כשתיתא, נראה להיתר כדפרישית, ואפילו לשתות בבית הגוי ואפילו אם בישלו הגוי בבית הגוי. ושמעתי אומרים שפעמים משליך הגוי לתוכו שומן חזיר וגם מושחין בו שולי קדירה כדי שלא תשרף, ואומר אני דאף בזה לא נאסור דידוע לכל שהש[ו]מן נותן טעם לפגם בשכר ומותר.


It says in the Sefer Hayashar: Why did the prohibit the beer of the Gentiles? We have not found any prohibition of beer in the words of the Tannaim. Rather the Amoraim initiated this because of fear of marriage. But not such a strong prohibition like the case of bread cooked by a Gentile. For our beer, the grains it is made from can be eaten raw [and food that can be eaten raw can be eaten when cooked by a Gentile]. And in the house of a Jew it is permitted to drink the beer even if it was cooked by a non-Jew. And since it is not prohibited because of the prohibition of food cooked by a Gentile, it is also not prohibited because of the concern for marriage.

But I did not understand his words, for if this is so, even if the non-Jew brewed the beer in his own house, it should be permitted to drink it.

In any case, with regard to our beer, which is made from aged grain, it seems that this should be permitted, and even to drink in the house of the Gentile, and even if the Gentile permitted it. And I have heard them say that sometimes the Gentile puts lard in it and smears the sides of the cauldron with lard so that the beer does not burn. And I say that even so it is permitted, for we should not prohibit this for everyone knows that the fat gives a bad taste to beer and it is permitted.

From Haym Soloveitchik, Wine in Ashkenaz in the Middle Ages, p. 315 (my translation)

In the Hellenistic world around the Mediterranean basin, where vines grow plentifuly, beer was considered a second-rate beverage and was not the basis of companionship. Babylonia, on the other hand, is not wine country, and beer there was always "the wine of the region." Thus only in Babylonia and only in the Bavli do we hear of a decree against beer. Since Europe was first settled by Jewish immigrants from the Roman Empire, they did not even know of a prohibition of beer. When the Bavli became accepted there as the source of authority, it is doubtful whether the community knew of this prohibition, which is mentioned, after all, on only a few lines of the Bavli, in Tractate Avodah Zarah, a tractate not learned in Ashkenaz. There is no doubt that over the generations this prohibition became known, but since in the regions of the Rhine, Champagne and Paris they did not drink much beer, knowing the prohibition had little effect. Thus, unlike the prohibition of wine, the prohibition of beer was not deeply entrenched in the self-identity of Ashkenazi Jews. Yayin nesekh was also related to the long-lasting struggle against paganism, a struggle which left an unerasable mark on both halakhah and popular sentiment. The loathing of idolatry and anything connected to it penetrated deeply into the people's spirit, and even in "the land of Edom" where idolaters did not libate their wine, the abhorrence of drinking Gentile wine did not dissipate. Beer had no similar background, and therefore did not arouse any associations, or loathing that such associations could engender. The prohibition is abstract and marginal in the laws of Avodah Zarah, and was thought of in this way in the academies of the Tosafot.