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A lot of our rituals are done with wine (or grape-juice), e.g. Kiddush, Havdalah, Pesach seder, circumcision, weddings, and offerings. It even has special laws of becoming unfit (yayin nesech), that are much stricter than other things' rules about being set aside for idol worship. We also have a special status (nazir) which prohibits a person from wine.

What is it that makes wine so special?

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First the importance of wine is a worldwide reality. Wine was the favorite beverage in civilizations geographically adapted to viticulture.

Gemara uses psalm verses to define the special features of wine. Berachoth 35b:

Is it not written, And wine that maketh glad the heart of man.

and bread that stayeth man's heart, which shows that it is bread which sustains, not wine? - The fact is that wine does both, it sustains and makes glad, whereas bread sustains but does not cheer.

Those particularly appreciated qualities were enacted in blessing and some special ceremonies. This is not particular to Judaism, in idolatrous cults they also used wine. Owning good things is a sign of wealth and blessing.

Nazir is linked to side effects of wine, which because of the same particular features may lead to excess and sin.

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Cover your eyes - this post contains chassidus!

One of the powers/responsibilities of the Jew is to elevate the world by sanctfying it. In shema we say "bekhol meodecha" , " with all your means" does that mean selling all your possessions to buy a nice esrog? (yes it does. I will sell you one; put your email in the comment)

No it doesn't. It means saying "how is this next purchase going to be used for mitzvos and holiness" similarly when we make blessings on food, we take eating, which even animals do and place it on the spiritual plane

Wine is a very special item because it alters people's consciousness. When a chossid gets slightly tipsy, it enables him to let go of the world and sing to hashem and the chossid's wine is holy. He has elevated the ordinary fermented grape mash tremendously.

When a sheigetz drinks wine, he drinks and gets drunk, vomits and falls and lowers himself and the wine spiritually.

Wine gets special treatment because it is capable of both spiritual heights and depths and the protections help insulate its consumption from the conditions that lead to depths.

  • Great! I'll make kiddush on hashish next shabbes. – Adám Sep 19 '16 at 13:18
  • You can say besamim on it – Clint Eastwood Sep 19 '16 at 13:36
  • Do you have a [chasidish] source? – WAF Sep 19 '16 at 15:02

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