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As a non-Jew, undergoing the conversion process, I am very careful regarding the Torah, rabbinic, and cultural laws. However, some times it seems to me that some laws are not compatible for converts.

One of these incompatibilities that I have encountered is the kosher wine. In my understanding, if a non-Jew touches an open bottle he/she will render the wine non-kosher.

Apart from all the non-kosher additives, that can be a part of the process, it eludes me why a convert should buy kosher wine, as the wine is not kosher when he/she is drinking it?

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related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17/759 –  Double AA May 23 '12 at 13:22
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When you write "melachos", do you mean "mitzvos"? –  HodofHod May 23 '12 at 13:49
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Just in case there is some misunderstanding of the term "Melochos" (plural of Melacha), and possibly also "Mitzvos" (plural of Mitzvah) see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melacha and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitzvah –  Seth J May 23 '12 at 14:11
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Sorry. the only time my wife and I drink wine is during Shabbos. I'm reading the 39 Melachos. That's why I made the mixup sorry. –  Millthorn May 23 '12 at 15:44
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wow this paradox is seeped in irony. Good luck on your conversion! –  Baal Shemot Tovot May 25 '12 at 6:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Kosher wine that is Mevushal, "cooked"*, is fine to touch. The underlying issue is that an enactment was put in place in Talmudic times to prevent Yayin Nesech (wine used for idolotrous purposes) and extended also to prevent intermarriage and out-conversion (meaning that, even if you know that the gentile serving you wine is not going to engage in idolatry, it is still prohibited to drink the wine that was touched by them). In a nutshell (very, very simplified), if wine is Mevushal, it is regarded as being of lesser quality, and it is therefore also not regarded as being suitable for Yayin Nesech, thus removing that problem. As a consequence, the restrictions on the wine are lifted all around. (However, it should be noted that there are still restrictions on drinking with gentiles, for those other reasons I already mentioned.) So, as long as you drink wine that is labeled Mevushal, you don't have to worry about making it non-Kosher by opening and then handling the bottle.

*Thanks to a comment from Msh210, readers should be aware that Mevushal wine nowadays is not "cooked"/boiled in the usual sense. It's heated to a high temperature, but not to boiling. See line 131 here: http://www.kosher-wine.com/history.shtml

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+1, but readers should be aware that m'vushal wine nowadays is not "boiled" in the usual sense. It's heated to a high temperature, but not to boiling. –  msh210 May 23 '12 at 15:33
    
@msh210, Correct, but I don't think I used the word boiled, did I? I tried to use the word "cooked" (in quotes, deliberately). –  Seth J May 23 '12 at 15:38
    
Right, sorry. I copy-pasted from my comment on the other answer, meant to change boiled in my comment to cooked, and neglected to do so. Yes, you put cooked in quotation marks, and I was merely clarifying the quotation marks. :-) –  msh210 May 23 '12 at 15:43
    
@msh210 Gotcha. I've incorporated your comment into my answer. –  Seth J May 23 '12 at 15:46
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Great answers every one. Thanks –  Millthorn May 23 '12 at 15:55

You bring up a much more fundamental question than the other answers have dealt with. If the reason to forbid wine touched by certain people is lest they libated part of it to Avoda Zara, then should the wine be forbidden to the toucher himself if he knows that he did not libate it?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein deals with this question (Igrot Moshe OC V 37:8) regarding the case of giving wine to a public Sabbath desecrator. If when he accepts the glass he forbids the wine to himself, then it might be forbidden to give him any wine per "placing a stumbling block before the blind". Rabbi Feinstein concludes that since a public Sabbath desacrator only forbids wine upon contact because as a sinner he is suspected of ties to Avoda Zara, and we know that most public Sabbath desacrators around nowadays are not actually going to libate the wine, we may be lenient regarding his drinking the wine that he touched and thereby offer him wine.

Your case is slightly different (both in the strength of the enactment of non-Jews touching wine as well as in the degree to which you must be careful about the laws of Kashrut) but I think we can extrapolate sufficiently to show that since you know that you are not libating the wine (as you are in the process of converting) then you need not concern yourself with the wine that you yourself touched and you may consider it kosher for yourself, even if it is forbidden to others. (Note that this won't help you much if you have a family converting with you as you can't be trusted to each other.)

Thus I think you should feel confortable drinking regular kosher wine that you yourself have touched.

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Thank you, feels a bit strange not to be able to trust ones family, and very hard in practice. I mean what you are saying is applicable to other prohibitions too. I was reading about Ramban, and the prohibition of selling knifes to goyim. In that way I could not trust my wife with a knife. Although, I see your point. –  Millthorn Jun 22 '12 at 3:40
    
@Millthorn, everyone else, recall that answers on this site should be treated as sources for further discussion with your halachic advisor (rabbi) and not as halachic rulings themselves. (+1, though, nice argument.) –  msh210 Jun 22 '12 at 7:39
    
@msh210 would not dream doing anything with out my Rebbe's advice. Thanks, and Shabbat Shalom. –  Millthorn Jun 22 '12 at 8:46

I don't have a source for the following, but it seems logical:

Since your current status is not Jewish, you don't have an obligation in mitzvos. You are merely keeping the mitzvos for educational purposes. The structure of the education is to do exactly what you would do if you were Jewish- which is buy kosher wine and drink it.

To illustrate, a 12 year old child is not obligated in mitvos, but must keep them for educational reasons. But when he tries to fulfill his obligation for, say, kiddush, it shouldn't work because a minor cannot do the mitzva of kiddush because he is a minor! So how does the education work?

We see that education works by going through the actions of what you will be- an adult or, in your case, a Jew. So there is no concern of gentile wine. But, as usual, consult your Rabbi. Also I don't know that this would work if another family member touches it.

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The katan has a chiyuv chinuch so he is obligated miderabanan. This case, while educationally motivated, seems to me more like the suggestion that a katan say kiddush on yom kippur night, where we don't allow him to lest in the future he remember and continue saying kiddush on YK. And if you tell me that he knows he used to be non-jewish, we have a gezera that a ger that converts on 14 nisan does not bring korban pesach, b/c in the future he might bring it a day after becoming tamei, just like he could have when he converted (b/c he didn't used to accept tumah). So we are gozer atu pre-gerut –  Double AA May 24 '12 at 7:04
    
Interesting. I have heard different opinions regarding converts and mitzvos. Some say that it is no benefit or verse for the convert. Other say it is bad for the convert and yet other say that one should keep them but break a few to show that the convert is not Jewish just yet. I know this is a different thing ; Abraham, Isaac and Jakob kept the mitzvos but was not obligated to do so. Did they do it with out gaining merit? –  Millthorn May 24 '12 at 10:21
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I should probably open a new question for the previous comment. –  Millthorn May 24 '12 at 10:22
    
@DoubleAA, like you said, a katan (or the parent) is obligated miderabbanan, so the chachamim manipulate that mitzva accordingly. A non-Jew has no obligation. It would be strange to suggest a sort of gezeira. –  YDK May 24 '12 at 16:39
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@Millthorn, I have no idea what Rabbi's tell converts regarding mitzvos. Your question indicated to me that your Rabbi recommended that you practice Kosher. –  YDK May 24 '12 at 16:41

This holds true for wine that is not mevushal, boiled. If a non-Jew touches an open bottle of mevushal wine, there is no problem. Note, this is not a melacha, that is, an action forbidden on the sabbath, but a separate prohibition related to the laws of kashrut and concerns over idolatry. There is much to be said on the subject (including an explanation of why mevushal wine was exempted from this prohibition) but the short answer is, buy wine that says on it "Mevushal."

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+1, but readers should be aware that m'vushal wine nowadays is not "boiled" in the usual sense. It's heated to a high temperature, but not to boiling. –  msh210 May 23 '12 at 15:32
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Great answers every one. Thanks –  Millthorn May 23 '12 at 15:56

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