Monday, February 23, 2009

Why can't pagans offer mevushal wine?

The Talmud makes a statement that idolaters would not offer boiled wine to their idols - but as far as I know this is not substantiated anywhere else. Where is the source of this idea? I've never heard anyone boiling wine for any purpose other than to make it taste worse than non-boiled wine, especially the original hard core method of bringing the wine to a boil.

4 Comments:

Blogger Tobie said...

I was always under the vague impression that it was precisely because it tasted worse than ordinary wine, and you wouldn't go around giving second-best stuff to the gods. It's an interesting question whether the Talmud is basing this on contemporary practice or just making theoretical statements.

February 23, 2009 11:31 PM  
Blogger chaviva said...

This is a really intriguing question. As far as I can tell, it is one of those things that the Talmud accepts as true. I'm not sure if there is any evidence in any of the writings of other Near Eastern peoples that suggest this was a pattern for pagans/idolaters, but I'm curious enough that I'm going to look further into it :) I'll let you know if I find anything!

February 24, 2009 9:41 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Perhaps the Talmud is assuming that idolaters would not even think of boiling wine in the first place - the boiling seems to be a transformative act that transforms the substance from a possible idol-offering to a safe Jewish substance. Rather like heating vessels to kasher them.

Such ritual transformations (errrm, transsubstanciations?) seem to have been uniquely Jewish.

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Actually given the chateau du boite at Sam's, which on a hot day tastes like bubbly liquid limburger, it is not impossible that the boiling improved the product.

February 25, 2009 5:43 PM  
Blogger shemuel said...

hello everyone! i think this [discussion] seems dead, but i will give it a try, as this poit of halakha bothers me since a while...
maybe as boiled wine was unfit for JEWISH offerings, it was considered unfit for any offering.
now we have all these "mevushal" wines which are marketed as having no difference in taste; therefor, i am really asking myself, would they be really rejected for a idolatrous offering. i guess not!

May 22, 2009 3:09 AM  

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