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Insights From The Institute Summer09.htm

Insights from the Institute
Shailos from the Institute of Halacha
Rabbi Mordechai Frankel, Director of the Institute of Halacha

Q:       I had a bottle of wine stored in the shelving unit on the door of my refrigerator.  I was in the kitchen, and I saw my non-Jewish hired help open the refrigerator.   She knows that she is not allowed to touch my wine, but did not pay attention to the fact that opening the refrigerator moves the wine on the door.  Can I still drink the wine?

A:     During the times of Chazal, it was common for non-Jews to pour wine libations as a means of serving idols.  Such wine is called yayin nesech, and a Jew may not derive any benefit from this wine.1 Due to this concern, Chazal enacted a gezeira which forbade the use of any wine which has been poured by a non-Jew, whether or not it was intended as a form of idol worship.2 This wine is known as stam yeinom.3 It is even forbidden to drink wine which has merely been touched by a non-Jew.4 If a non-Jew touches a bottle containing wine, but does not move the bottle or touch the wine itself, the wine does not become assur.5 However, if the non-Jew moves the bottle and shakes the wine, it may not be drunk.6

Sealed bottles of wine were not included within this prohibition and may be moved by a non-Jew.  A closed bottle may also be moved by a non-Jew, as long as a Jew is present to ensure that the bottle was not opened.7 Furthermore, cooked wine was also not included in the prohibition, as this type of wine is of lower quality and would not be used for idol worship.8Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, paskens that pasteurized wine has the same status as cooked wine.9 Even though there is a minimal difference in taste between pasteurized and non-pasteurized wine, pasteurized wine is not included within the gezeira of Chazal.10

If a non-Jew is holding something in his hand and inadvertently touches wine with that object, a Jew may still drink the wine.11Indirect touching of the wine, if done inadvertently, does not render the wine assur.  If the non-Jew purposely touched the wine with the object that he was holding, the wine should not be drunk.  However, in a situation of considerable financial loss one may be lenient.12

Let us now analyze the situation of the hired help who opened the refrigerator door that contained a bottle of wine.  Since the owner of the wine was present, and the hired help knows that she is not allowed to touch the wine, it is clear that she did not open the bottle.13

Therefore, if the bottle of wine was closed it may be drunk, as Chazal did not extend this gezeira to closed bottles of wine.  Even if the bottle was open, it may also be drunk if the wine was pasteurized, as the gezeira did not include cooked wine.  If the wine was not pasteurized and the bottle was open, but the non-Jew did not know that there was a bottle of wine in the door, a Jew may still drink the wine.  This is due to the fact that the non-Jew unintentionally moved the bottle of wine indirectly, and this does not make the wine assurRav Heinemann, shlit”a, paskens that even if the non-Jew was aware of the bottle of wine in the door, if she opened the door simply in order to gain access to the refrigerator, it would still be classified as inadvertent indirect moving, and, a Jew would be permitted to drink the wine.14

It should be noted that a non-Jew should not be left unsupervised in the vicinity of an unsealed bottle of unpasteurized wine, as there is no way to guarantee that he will not open the bottle and move it.15 To avoid this, a Jew can reseal the bottle of wine by placing tape over the cap of the bottle in such a manner that he will be aware of any tampering.16

Q:       Can one send a Fed-Ex or UPS package on Friday to be delivered on Shabbos?

A:      A Jew is allowed to pay a non-Jew a fixed amount to perform a certain task, even if it is a task that cannot be carried out by a Jew on Shabbos, and he knows that the non-Jew may carry it out on Shabbos.  This is because the non-Jew has not been instructed to work at the task specifically on Shabbos, and doing so is his own decision.17  For this reason, you may pay a non-Jew a fixed amount to sew an article of clothing, even though the non-Jew may decide to do so on Shabbos.18  However, if it is not possible for the non-Jew to finish the clothing in the allotted time without working on Shabbos, then it is forbidden, as this is tantamount to asking him to work for you on Shabbos.19

Similarly, you may pay a non-Jew a fixed amount to deliver mail, and if the non-Jew delivers it on Shabbos that is his own decision. However, you cannot explicitly tell him to deliver the mail on Shabbos.20 Furthermore, you may not tell him to deliver it on Sunday or Monday, if you know that he will have to travel on Shabbos in order to deliver it on time.21

The Shulchan Aruch writes that if you know that a non-Jew is going to a certain location you may certainly give him mail to deliver, as he will not be doing any extra activity on your behalf.22 The Mishna Berura states that this is true only if it is possible that he will arrive before Shabbos. However, if you know that the non-Jew will not arrive at the final destination before the onset of Shabbos, the ruling would not apply as this would be equivalent to instructing the non-Jew to carry your mail on Shabbos.23

The Teshuvos Shevus Yaakov was asked whether one is allowed to mail a letter on Friday, if he knows that it may be delivered on Shabbos. The Shevus Yaakov permits this, due to the fact that one did not specifically instruct a non-Jew to deliver the mail on Shabbos. Although the postal service may decide to do so, that is their prerogative.24 The Shevus Yaakov then discusses whether or not one may actually request that the mail be delivered on Shabbos, and suggests a possible case for leniency. In this instance, the non-Jew who receives the request does not actually deliver the mail himself; rather, he relates it to another non-Jew who then carries out the instructions. However, the Shevus Yaakov concludes that this leniency should be relied upon only if there is a great need.25 Similarly, the Mishna Berura states that asking one non-Jew to tell another non-Jew to perform a melacha on Shabbos should be done only in times of great need.26

Other poskim suggest a further possible reason to be lenient. When a person puts a package in the mail, that package is shipped together with many other pieces of mail. Any melacha that the postal worker performs on Shabbos is not specifically carried out for the Jew and would be done in any case.  For example, a courier who carries a sack of mail containing a package would be doing so anyway, and the Jew’s package merely adds slightly to the weight that he is already carrying. Conceptually, this is similar to the following:

If necessary, one is permitted to cook meat on Shabbos in order to feed someone who has a life threatening illness. However, consider the case of a person who, before doing so, adds a piece of meat for himself. This person is legitimately engaged in the melacha of bishul, but has unnecessarily added to the amount of bishul. There is a difference of opinion as to whether this is forbidden by the Torah or Chazal.27

Similarly, when sending express mail to be delivered on Shabbos, one is requesting that the non-Jew add to a sack of mail which he is legitimately carrying on Shabbos. In essence, one is asking a non-Jew to tell another non-Jew to add to a melacha which is already being executed. Some poskim feel that this would be permissible,28 especially in light of the fact that the non-Jew who delivers the mail is simply doing his job and has no idea that he is acting on the Jew’s behalf.29

However, other poskim point out that at the final stage of the delivery, the courier drives to the location of the recipient and hand delivers the package. These activities are carried out solely on behalf of the Jew who mailed the package, and would not be done otherwise. Furthermore, the Mishna Berura concurs with the viewpoint that adding to a melacha is forbidden min haTorah.30 For these reasons, the Minchas Yitzchok paskens that one should send a Fed-Ex or UPS package on Friday that needs to be delivered on Shabbos only in cases of great need.31

Some poskim have stated that a person should not send such a package, even if he tells the Fed-Ex agent that he does not need it delivered until Sunday. Since Fed-Ex does not operate on Sunday, this is equivalent to asking them to deliver the package on Shabbos.32 However, Rav Heinemann, shlit”a, takes issue with this. 

Rav Heinemann paskens33 that a person sending a Fed-Ex package on Friday to be delivered on Shabbos should do the following: When speaking to the agent, he should state that he needs the recipient to get the package on Sunday. He should explain that, even though he is paying for Saturday delivery, it makes no difference to him whether Fed-Ex delivers it on Saturday or Sunday. Although Fed-Ex does not work on Sunday, and will certainly deliver it on Shabbos, it becomes their decision to do so and not something that they were instructed to do. It should be noted that it is necessary to make the above statement to the agent, not merely think it.34

Halachic queries regarding all topics may be presented to The Institute of Halacha at the Star-K by calling 410-484-4110 ext. 238 or emailing halachah@star-k.org.

1.ע"ז דף כט ע"ב

2.עי' רש"י שם דף לא ע"א ד"ה סתם ותוס' שם דף כט ע"ב ד"ה יין

3.שם דף לא ע"א 

4.שו"ע יו"ד סי' קכג סעי' יג, ועי' בש"ך שם ס"ק ל

5.רמ"א שם סעי' יח וש"ך שם ס"ק מג 

6.עי' בשו"ע שם סעי' יז, וברמ"א שם כתב שאם שכשך הכלי בלא הגבהה אין להחמיר במקום פסידא, ובשו"ע שם סעי' יח כתב שאם הגביה ולא שכשך ולא נגע ביין מותר, ועי' בט"ז שם ס"ק ו וס"ק יא

7.עי' בשו"ע שם סעי' כה וט"ז שם ס"ק לד וש"ך שם ס"ק עד 

8.שו"ע שם סי' קכג סעי' ג וש"ך שם ס"ק ו וט"ז שם ס"ק ג

9.שו"ת אג"מ יו"ד ח"ב סי' נב, וסיים שם שמדת החום לענין להתחשב יין מבושל הוא יד סולדת בו ואף שכתב הש"ך סי' קכג ס"ק ז דבעינן שיתמעט ממדתו ע"י רתיחה מ"מ גם ביד סולדת כבר נתמעט משהו, וממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א שמעתי שבזמנינו שעושים יין מפוסטר בכלים סגורים יתכן שהיין לא נתמעט ממדתו ולכן במקום שעושים יין מפוסטר תחת השגחת הStar-K מקפידין שיהיה פתח להכלי כדי שהיין יתמעט ממדתו

10.עי' בשו"ת מנחת שלמה ח"א סי' כה ובקובץ תשובות להגרי"ש אלישיב שליט"א ח"א סי' עה שחולקים וסוברים שיין מפוסטר אין דינו כיין מבושל לענין זה, ועי' בשו"ת יביע אומר ח"ח יו"ד סי' טו מש"כ על דבריהם

11.שו"ע שם סי' קכד סעי' כד

12.עי' ברמ"א שם, ובש"ך שם ס"ק עא הביא בשם המהרי"ל שאין להתיר אלא במקום הפסד מרובה, ועוד כתב שכן קיבל מאביו שאין להקל אלא במקום הפסד

13.עי' בשו"ע שם סי' קכט סעי' א ובש"ך שם סי' קכח ס"ק יא שהיין מותר בשתיה אפילו אם אין הישראל שם אם העכו"ם מירתת שמא יבא ישראל ויראהו נוגע, והיינו דוקא כשהעכו"ם יודע דמגע עכו"ם אסור לישראל כמש"כ הש"ך שם

14.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א

15.עי' ברמ"א שם סי' קכח סעי' א שלכתחלה אין מייחדים יין עם עכו"ם, וכ"כ הרמ"א שם סי' קכט סעי' א שלכתחלה אין להניח יין בביתו כלל כשיש שם עכו"ם בלבד, ועי' בש"ך שם ס"ק ד, וע"ע בש"ך שם סי' קיח ס"ק לב שכתב להתיר לכתחלה כשישראל יוצא ונכנס תוך זמן מועט, ועי' בחלקת בנימין שם ס"ק צו ובביאורים ד"ה אם מש"כ בזה, ולענין בדיעבד עי' ברמ"א שם סי' קכח סעי' ד שבזה"ז אפילו כשאין העכו"ם מרתת מותר בדיעבד אא"כ יש לחוש שנגעו לשתות ממנו מיהו אם הוא בקנקן שיש לחוש שמא נגע בו דרך מתעסק חיישינן, ועי' בש"ך שם סי' קכט ס"ק י

16.עי' בט"ז שם סי' קיח ס"ק ד

17.שו"ע או"ח סי' רמד סעי' א

18..שו"ע שם סעי' ה

19.מ"ב שם ס"ק כד, והוסיף המ"ב שאף אם אפשר לעכו"ם לאנוס עצמו לעסוק בלילה ועי"ז יוכל לגמור בחול מ"מ הוי זה כמצוה לו לעשות בשבת

20.שו"ע שם סי' רמז סעי' א

21.מ"ב שם ס"ק ד

22.שו"ע שם סעי' ה

23.מ"ב שם ס"ק יז, ועי' בשעה"צ שם ס"ק יז

24..שו"ת שבות יעקב ח"ב סי' מב, ועי' מש"כ בשו"ת אגרות משה או"ח ח"ג סו"ס מו שראוי למנוע מזה במקום שרבים מן העובדים בבית דואר הם יהודים

25.בשו"ת שבות יעקב שם כתב שיש להקל במקום צורך גדול, והובא דבריו בשו"ת מהרש"ם ח"ב סו"ס קלו

26.במ"ב סי' שז ס"ק כד כתב שבמקום הפסד גדול יש לסמוך על המקילין לאמר לעכו"ם שיאמר לעכו"ם אחר לעשות מלאכה בשבת

27.מג"א סי' שיח ס"ק ו

28.עי' בשו"ת חלקת יעקב או"ח סי' סו ושו"ת מחזה אברהם סי' לז

29.עי' בשו"ת אז נדברו ח"ג סי' לו

30.עי' במ"ב סי' שיח ס"ק יג ובשעה"צ סי' שטז ס"ק לג

31..שו"ת מנחת יצחק ח"ו סי' יח, וכן פסק בשו"ת תשובות והנהגות ח"א או"ח סי' רעח(ב)

32.עי' בספר נשמת שבת ח"ה סי' קיח

33.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א

34.עי' בשו"ת אג"מ או"ח ח"ד סי' נג שכתב להתיר לעכו"ם קבלן לעשות מלאכה בשבת בשביל ישראל כל שאפשר לו לעשותה גם ביום חול ואף במקום שאין לו זמן לעשותה ביום כל שיכול לעשותה בלילה יש להתיר, ובספר הל' אמירה לעכו"ם לר' שמחה בונים כהן עמ' 65-67 הקשה על זה מדברי המ"ב סי' רמד ס"ק כד הנ"ל, ועיי"ש מש"כ בזה



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