Jewish Drinking With Rabbi Drew: Drinking on Hanukkah

Cincy Jewfolk is proud to partner with Rabbi Drew Kaplan to bring you a past episode of his podcast Jewish Drinking.

Rabbi Drew Kaplan has been seeking to advance and enhance the Jewish drinking experience for years through publishing over 140 episodes of The Jewish Drinking Show, as well as writing, speaking, and more. While he is a beer geek, he got into Bourbon before beer and enjoys sharing knowledge and enjoyment of all beverages. Having graduated rabbinical school over 14 years ago, he has worked with college students and young adults in southern California, seniors in Cincinnati, and more. He resides in Cincinnati with his wife and four children.

What does the Jewish tradition have to offer for guidance on drinking on Hanukah? Rabbi Ben Shefter joins Rabbi Drew Kaplan on this episode of “Jewish Drinking The Show” to discuss drinking on Hanukah.

Related to our discussion is this text in the Shulhan Arukh (OH 670:2): ריבוי הסעודות שמרבים בהם הם סעודות הרשות שלא קבעום למשתה ושמחה Increasing meals which we add on them are voluntary meals, since they did not establish them as for drinking and rejoicing.

And here is the addition of Rabbi Moshe Isserles thereon: ויש אומרים שיש קצת מצוה בריבוי הסעודות משום דבאותן הימים היה חנוכת המזבח [מהר”א מפראג] ונוהגין לומר זמירות ושבחות בסעודות שמרבים בהם ואז הוי סעודת מצוה [מנהגים] י”א שיש לאכול גבינה בחנוכה לפי שהנס נעשה בחלב שהאכילה יהודית את האויב [כל בו ור”ן] But there are those who say that there is somewhat of a mitzvah in adding meals, because during those days was the dedication of the altar (Abraham Kara of Prague). Some are accustomed to recite hymns and songs of praise during the feasts added on them, and then they are mitzvah meals (Book of Customs). Some say that cheese should be eaten during Hanukkah, because a miracle was done though milk which Yehudit fed the enemy. (Kol Bo and Nissim of Gerona).

Also relevant to our discussion is from the Kol Bo (section 44): ויש מפרשים שעל ידי אשה אירע להם הנס הגדול ההוא ושמה יהודית כמו שמפורש באגדה בת היתה ליוחנן כהן גדול והיתה יפת תואר מאד ואמר המלך יון שתשכב עמו והאכילתו תבשיל של גבינה כדי שיצמא וישתה לרוב וישתכר וישכב וירדם ויהי לה כן וישכב וירדם ותקח חרבו וחתכה ראשו ותביאהו לירושלים וכראות החיל כי מת גבורם וינוסו, ועל כן נהגו לעשות תבשיל של גבינה בחנוכה There are some who explain that it was through a woman that the miracle occured, and her name was Judith as in explained in the Aggada—Yohanan the High Priest had a very beautiful daughter and the Seleucid king sought to sleep with her, and she fed him a dish made with cheese so he would be thirsty and he drank too much and became drunk and lay down and slept and she took his sword and beheaded him and brought his head to Jerusalem and when the soldiers saw that their champion was dead they fled, and thus the custom is to make cheese dishes for Hanukka.