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Selling Non-Kosher Wine

**Please remember today, May 22nd 2009, to recite the 'Parents Prayer' for good and upright children. We recite this on Erev Rosh Hodesh Sivan. The Tefilah is available for download at DailyHalacha.com, by clicking 'Special Tefilot' on the left side, or by going to this link: http://www.dailyhalacha.com/PDF/SivanPrayer.pdf **

Today's Halacha...

Halacha forbids drinking wine produced by a gentile, as well as drinking wine produced by a Jew but was handled by a gentile. (The exception is “Yayin Mebushal” – wine that had been boiled – which may be drunk even if it was handled by a gentile.)

Is it permissible to sell wine produced by gentiles? For example, if a person owns a store, may he sell non-kosher wine in the store?

The Shulhan Aruch explicitly rules that non-kosher wine is forbidden not only for consumption, but also for any kind of benefit (“Hana’a”). It is therefore forbidden to sell non-kosher wine, and even to give it as a gift to a gentile. This means that if a person’s wine was handled by a non-Jew, and thus became forbidden, he may not give it to his housekeeper as a gift. It must rather be discarded (such as by pouring it down a drain), since one may not derive any benefit from it whatsoever.

The Ben Ish Hai (Rav Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) and Hacham Ovadia Yosef make an exception in this regard to wine produced or handled by a Bnei Yishmael. Bnei Yishmaels, as opposed to followers of other non-Jewish faiths, believe in and pray to the one, true God, and thus Halacha does not consider Islam a form of idolatry. We may therefore be more lenient regarding wine produced or handled by a Bnei Yishmael, and thus although such wine may certainly not be drunk, one may sell it or give it as a gift to a gentile. Wine produced or handled by other gentiles, however, may not be sold or given as a gift.


The Hida (Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724-1806), in his work Shiyureh Beracha, cites the Zohar as commenting that one who knowingly violates this Halacha and makes commercial use of non-kosher wine forfeits his share in the next world. This frightening passage should alert us to the severity of this prohibition, and emphasizes the importance of not deriving any personal benefit from non-kosher wines.

Summary: It is forbidden to drink, sell or derive any form of benefit from wine that was produced or handled by a gentile (unless it is Mebushal). One may not even give such wine as a gift to a non-Jew. The exception to this rule is wine produced or handled by a Bnei Yishmael, which is forbidden for consumption but may be sold or given as a gift.