For the week ending 21 November 2009 / 3 Kislev 5770

Bava Batra 93 - 99

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Disagreement between buyer and seller regarding for what purpose the item was purchased
  • When we rule based on a statistical majority
  • Two customs of Jerusalemites regarding guests
  • For how much spoilage of grain or wine must the seller assume responsibility
  • Difference between wine sold for cooking or for drinking
  • When one discovers that his wine has become vinegar
  • Diluting raw wine with water and making wine from lees
  • Which wine could be used for nesachim on the altar and for kiddush on Shabbat
  • Responsibility of the seller of wine for its quality
  • Selling a site for building a wedding hall or other structures
  • Position of the keruvim on the Holy Ark
  • Access to reservoir in someone else's home

Wine for the Altar

  • Bava Batra 97b

Along with the communal sacrifices offered on the altar in the Beit Hamikdash was the offering of nesachim – wine poured into a duct on the altar.

Since the wine was part of a sacred service, it had to be of quality. Several kinds of wine were disqualified based on passages in Scripture that attest to their lack of the required quality.

One is wine that was left uncovered and there is a danger that a serpent may have injected his poisonous venom into it. Even if we strain the wine and eliminate the venom this wine is unfit for use upon the altar. Another example is wine that developed a repugnant odor as a result of being stored in an unclean vessel.

The reason for the disqualification of both these wines is a passage that chastises Jews for offering sick and disabled animals as sacrifices. The Prophet Malachi (1:8) challenges these offenders. "If you offered such to your governor, would he be pleased and would he show favor to you?"

Since wine which contained venom or which has a bad odor would be unfit as a gift to a human ruler, it is considered as unfit as an offering to Heaven.

Another wine disqualified for us in nesachim is white wine. This is based on a passage (Mishlei 23:31) in which King Solomon advises those who wish to avoid the danger of intoxication, "Look not upon the wine when it is red." The implication is that red wine is generally of better quality and is more likely to have a greater impact, which makes it more suitable for nesachim use.

(This is one of the reasons why red wine is preferred for the four cups of the Pesach Seder unless white wine of better quality is available.)

What the Sages Say

"It is not customary for a man to reside in the home of his father-in-law."

  • Gemara based on the Book of Ben Sira - Bava Batra 98b

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