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Pesachim 49a compares a shidduch to a Talmid Chacham to grapes: "The mingling of the grapes of the vine with the grapes of the vine is beautiful and acceptable." It then contrasts this to a shidduch to an Am HaAretz, which it compares to the mingling of grapes and thorns - neither beautiful nor acceptable. What is the analogy of grapes? Are other fruit not pleasing and acceptable? (I'd like to clarify that I'm looking for an explanation of not only why grapes but also why not other fruit, such as olives to which Torah is compared.)

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I think that the simple peshat is that if they are both virtuous, they are compared to two grapes; similar to the English idiom; two peas in a pod. Grapes would just be chosen since like peas they comprise a group of similar looking fruit.

Anecdotally, I found this idiom employed today, describing a male-female unit as "Like Two Grapes on a Vine".

However, R. Yitshak Yosef writes a different explanation as a derash in Yalkut Yosef. That grapes [differ from many other fruit in that they] require a preexisting support structure, to be supported, and the species does not stand on its own. So too, in a proper shiddukh, the bride and groom ought not stand independently, but rather, rely on the traditional behaviours of their ancestors.

ילקוט יוסף שובע שמחות א דרשות ענבי הגפן בענבי הגפן

מה שהמשילו ענין זיווג איש ואשה לענבי הגפן בענבי הגפן, היינו מפני שהגפן אינו עומד בפני עצמו, אלא נתמך תמיד על העצים שכבר קדמוהו...וזה הוא גם שבח לאיש ואשה כאשר מראש צורים אראנו ומגבעות אשורנו, שהם מיוסדים על דרכי אבות ואמהות שקדמום,

  • Wow! Three commentless downvotes on a sourced direct answer to the question. – mevaqesh Apr 21 '17 at 18:29
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My Rebbe, the Stoliner Rosh Yeshivah shelitah, in Boropark, (R' Wolpin) told me an explanation of "why grapes" as opposed to other fruits.

All other fruits eventually rot with age. Wine is the exception. It gets better with age. So too a good marriage. If people build a home on the values of an Am HaAretz, then eventually, the superficial "love" will likely erode with time. As the couple grows, they tend to grow apart.

A home built upon the values of a daughter of a Torah scholar, will have virtues like patience, self sacrifice for one another , and higher values etc. These things will cause the couple to compromise and become one over time; until the marriage becomes wonderful like a fine wine...with age.

He uses this often when explaining the blessing to the couple.

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    Do apples rot with age? I thought they make apple cider – Double AA Apr 21 '17 at 16:43
  • @DoubleAA Good observation q. I looked up hard apple cider online a bit. (I have never made any.) It seems that the time needed to ferment it is relatively short and aging it more than a year seems to create vinegar. I am sure there are plenty of exceptions etc. However, red wine seems to be the thing that takes a long time to age and gets better with long age (many years) if stored to protect from becoming vinegar/sour too. I don't think apple cider or other fermented fruit has that staying power like grapes (shorter life; harder to protect vs time). – David Kenner Apr 21 '17 at 20:41
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A Pshat I thought of:

All fruit juice rot with age, wine is an exception, it actually gets better as it ages. The Gemorah teaches us that there is no final brick in a marriage, it should constantly be growing and progressing upwards, like wine. This is the comparison.

I’ve seen a beautiful parable regarding this point. Tomatoes grow green, they turn red only after they have already ripened and have grown to their full size. At this point, it can rot. A good marriage is one where the couple is constantly working on their marriage, for if they take a rest from growing, their marriage may begin to rot.

  • What about apples that make apple cider? – Double AA Apr 21 '17 at 11:17
  • How is this different than David's answer? – DonielF Apr 21 '17 at 16:15
  • @DonielF Hes learning it means they get better, I thought its a requirement to be like the grapes, to constantly build and get better. – MosheRabbi Apr 21 '17 at 16:23
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Every other fruit when turned into juice loses a level in the Bracha from Ha"eitz to Shehakol, However grapes when turned into juice / wine gets an upgrade in status from Ha"eitz to Hagafen.

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    And therefore what? – DonielF Apr 21 '17 at 16:14
  • Also, olive oil is still a ha'eitz, not a shehakol. – DonielF Apr 21 '17 at 16:57
  • Just as grapes are the only fruit that "improves" in status when turned into juice, so to the couple should continue to improve . . . – sol Apr 21 '17 at 18:08
  • You should edit that in. As it stands, you're just telling us a neat fact about grapes. But even with that edit, that sounds like every answer but mevaqesh's. – DonielF Apr 21 '17 at 18:11

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