The Jewish Drinking Show: How Beer Became Acceptable For Havdallah In The Babylonian Talmud

This week on the Jewish Drinking Show: You can only use wine for Havdallah, right? That’s what the Talmudic rabbis thought…until a certain story happened. And then beer became legitimate to use for this ritual.

Featuring Professor Jordan Rosenblum, the Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism, the Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the newest podcast episode is on “How Beer Became Acceptable for Havdallah in the Babylonian Talmud”.

This podcast episode draws upon a discussion from Professor Rosenblum’s newest book, Rabbinic Drinking: What Beverages Teach Us About Rabbinic Literature, which introduces readers to rabbinic thought in the Talmud “through the rabbinic drinking glass.”

If you’re interested in following along in the Talmudic text, here is the key story (bPesahim 107a):

אמרי ליה מר ינוקא ומר קשישא בריה דרב חסדא לרב אשי זימנא חדא איקלע אמימר לאתרין ולא הוה לן חמרא אייתינא ליה שיכרא ולא אבדיל ובת טוות למחר טרחנא ואייתינא ליה חמרא ואבדיל וטעים מידי לשנה תו איקלע לאתרין לא הוה לן חמרא אייתינא שיכרא אמר אי הכי חמר מדינה הוא אבדיל וטעים מידי

Mar Yanuka and Mar Kashisha, sons of Rav Hisda, said to Rav Ashi: “Once, Amemar visited our town and we did not have wine. We brought him beer, but he did not recite Havdallah, and then fasted. The next day, we exerted ourselves and brought him wine, then he recited Havdallah and tasted some. The next year, he visited our town and we did not have any wine, and we brought him beer. He said, ‘If so, it is the wine of the region.’ He said Havdallah and tasted some.”

The discussion follows from there.

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