So, I am aware that in the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 152, I think it talks about the prohibition of eating with idolaters. But my question is what does the Rambam specifically say about being able to eat with the gentiles? Where in the Mishneh Torah or in the Rambam's other writings could I find his specific opinion in regards to sitting at the same table as gentiles and dining with them, if any place?


2 Answers 2


This passage in Shulhan Arukh (YD 152) is based on Avodah Zara (8a) which states:

עובד כוכבים שעשה משתה לבנו וזימן כל היהודים שבעירו אע"פ שאוכלין משלהן ושותין משלהן ושמש שלהן עומד לפניהם מעלה עליהם הכתוב כאילו אכלו מזבחי מתים שנאמר וקרא לך ואכלת מזבחו ואימא: עד דאכיל! אמר רבא: אם כן, נימא קרא ואכלת מזבחו, מאי וקרא לך? משעת קריאה.

If, for example, an idolater gives a banquet for his son and invites all the Jews in his town, then, even though they eat of their own and drink of their own and their own attendant waits on them, Scripture regards them as if they had eaten of the sacrifices to dead idols, as it is said, 'And he will call thee and thou wilt eat of his sacrifice.' (Exod. 34:15) But does not this apply to actual eating? — Said Raba: If that were so, the verse would have only said, And thou shalt eat of his sacrifice; why then say, And he will call thee? That extends the prohibition to the time of the participation. Hence

Rambam codifies this in Hilkhot Avodah Zara (9:16). He writes that included in this is participating in a non-Jewish wedding feast. This prohibition includes any meals from when they begin preparing the wedding food, until 30 days after the festivities, plus any additional specifically wedding themed feasts.

He explains (ibid 17) that this is motivated by the verse "and he will call you and you will eat from his sacrifice".

Regarding some of these laws, Rambam writes (9:2) that it does not apply if one knows that the gentile is not an idolater. Although he does not specify this with regards to wedding attendance.

This all relates to wedding attendance; the subject of that chapter of Shulhan Arukh. However, Rambam writes in Hilkhot Ma'akhalot Assurot (17:10) that there are various activities which the rabbis forbade lest they lead to intermarriage. One such prohibition is drinking at a non-Jewish party, even if the wine is kosher. Importantly, he specifies that "a non-Jewish party" is defined as a party at which most of the participants are not-Jewish. Thus, this prohibition would not apply to drinking at the same table with gentiles if there are more Jews at the party.

  • Can one infer from Ramba"m any prohibition to invite a Gentile to join you for a meal at a kosher restaurant? Or, if a Gentile and you eat your own food at an office party or in your office lunch room?
    – DanF
    Jul 25, 2017 at 20:30
  • 1
    In regards to a wedding, it sounds like any participation would be a problem. In regards to other parties, [this] problem seems to be dependent on drinking. @DanF
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 25, 2017 at 20:38
  • @mevaqesh Would that mean that if your office sponsors a business party, and they have a cash bar, you could not attend?
    – DanF
    Jul 26, 2017 at 13:37

The halakhic sources discussed in the other answer only relate to the following situations: A Jew is invited to a wedding to a wedding of an idol worshiper, or a Jew is invited to a large party of mostly non Jews and therefore runs the risk of intermarriage. What isn't discussed is the situations in which a non Jew joins a group of Jews to eat or drink, or if one can invite a gentile to eat or drink with them. For these scenarios Rambam has written the following responsum:

RAMBAM’S RESPONSUM 269 (in the Blau edition, 382 in the Freimann edition)

שאלה בדבר השתייה על מיני זמר וכו‘. ושתיית היין שדורכים הישמעאלים. יורינו רבינו ושכרו כפול מן השמים. התשובה ידוע, שעצם הזמר והניגונים כולם אסורים וכו‘. ואלה הישמעאלים אינם רחוקים מעבודה זרה כמו שהזכרתם יותר מקטן בן יומו, שאמר רב שהוא מנסך, והלכה כמותו ותכלית מה שהקלו כל הגאונים ביינם של אלו, )שיהיה( מותר בהנייה, ותו לא, אבל )שיהא מותר( בשתייה, לא נשמע זה משום בעל הוראה. והלכה למעשה בפני כל גאוני מערב, כאשר קורה, שנוגע ישמעאלי ביין שלנו נגיעה המחייבת ניסוך, שאוסרים לשתותו ומתירים למוכרו כדין יין הישמעאלים עצמן. וכאשר קורה, שנכנס גוי או ישמעאלי אצל אנשים בשעה שהם שותים, הם ממהרים לערב קצת דבש ביין אשר לפניהם ושותים עמו, ואמרו: כבר נפסל לגבי המזבח והיה בכלל מיני השכר, והעיקר )אצלנו שאין( מנסכין לעבודה זרה אלא יין הראוי ליקרב על גבי המזבח. כך הורה רבינו יוסף הלוי זצ“ו לברכה, וכך עשה כמה פעמים הלכה למעשה, הוא וכל גדולי ספרד וכו‘

Question about drinking over song etc. and drinking wine crushed by Muslims, guide us out rabbi and your reward will be doubled from heaven. The answer is known, that music and song are all forbidden etc. and these Muslims are not far off from Avodah Zarah as you mention any more than a child of one day old that Rav (Avodah Zarah 57a) prohibits the wine he pours, and the Halachah is in accordance with him. And the leniency of the Geonim about the wine of these [Muslims], is only that it should be permitted to benefit from it, and not more, but to say that it should be permissible to drink, this was not heard from any teacher. And the custom in practice before all the Geonim of the West [i.e., North Africa and Spain], that when it happens that a Muslim touches our wine in a way that prohibits it, we prohibit to drink it and permit selling it, as is the rule is with all Muslim wine. And when it happens that a Christian or Muslim enters when people are in the middle of drinking, they quickly mix in some honey into the wine that is before them and drink with them. The [sages] said: [by adding honey] it becomes invalid for pouring on the Mizbe’ach and become like all types of beer. And the main thing is that (here, where they don’t) pour wine for Avodah Zarah, unless it is wine that is suited to be brought on the Mizbe’ach. This is what Rabbi Yosef Halevi of righteous and holy memory taught and this is what he practiced himself on many occasions, him and all the great sages of Spain.

  • If anything he is referencing his ruling in Maakhalot Assurot 17:11 that rare kinds of wine are not included in the rabbinic prohibition relating to drinking with gentiles. | I see nothing in this responsum relevant to the OP not found in Hilkhot Ma'akhalot Assurot, and this whole point seems tangential. The OP didnt ask what varieties of wine are included and which are not included in the prohibition.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 26, 2017 at 4:51
  • @mevaqesh But one might infer that one should not be drinking or eating with gentiles at all. This shows that the Rambam and the Geonim from Spain would go out of their way to drink with a gentile who joined them by adding honey to their wine
    – Aaron
    Jul 26, 2017 at 5:49
  • Not really. It just shows that they wouldn't be bothered to leave. The situation described is by definition bdiavad. Nothing lkhathila about it. Rambam thought drinking was bad and groups drinking were detestable.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 26, 2017 at 14:53

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