May We Use Grape Juice for the Arba Kosot? - Part Two:
The Berachah on Grape Juice from Concentrate by Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Last week we explored the issue as to whether we may use grape juice for Kiddush. We concluded that the majority opinion believes that grape juice is acceptable for Kiddush and the common practice reflects this ruling. This week we shall continue preparing for a review of the debate as to whether we may use grape juice for the Arba Kosot. We will discuss a provocative ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Teshuvot Minchat Shlomo 1:4) regarding the Berachah on grape juice made from concentrate.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s Ruling
Rav Shlomo Zalman writes that the process of making grape juice from concentrate first involves evaporating the water from the juice, leaving a highly concentrated form. The concentrate is stored and, when it is time to bottle the grape juice, a quantity of water four times the amount of the grape juice concentrate is added to reconstitute it. Rav Shlomo Zalman suggests that one should recite Shehakol (rather than Borei Pri HaGefen) on the resulting product since it is considered grape juice-flavored water, not grape juice.
We noted last week that Rav Shlomo Zalman believes that grape juice retains its status as wine (whose Berachah is Borei Pri HaGefen and may be used for Kiddush). He also believes that the grape juice concentrate itself retains the status of wine even though it cannot be fermented while it is the form of concentrate. (Rav Yisrael Belsky mentioned at the Orthodox Union’s seminar on grape juice and wine that we referred to last week that the wine experts he consulted were unsure regarding this specific point.)
Rav Shlomo Zalman argues, however, that he find no compelling reason to say that the water added to grape juice concentrate, which constitutes eighty percent of the product, should attain the status of wine. (One could respond that since the added water blends with the concentrate to recreate almost the exact taste of the original grape juice, the added water becomes one entity with the concentrate and the entire mixture therefore enjoys the status of wine.) Moreover, Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that fundamentally we should not recite the Berachah of Borei Pri HaGefen even on grape juice. The only reason we do recite this Berachah on grape juice is because of its potential to become wine, as stated by the Rashbam (Bava Batra 97b s.v. Yayin Koseis). Accordingly, Rav Shlomo Zalman reasons that only that which emerged from the grape has the status of wine and not the water added to the grape juice concentrate.
Rav Shlomo Zalman, though, concedes that there may be a reasonable argument for why one should recite Borei Pri HaGefen on grape juice made from concentrate. He notes that the fact that this product tastes like grape juice can justify the recitation of Borei Pri HaGefen, based on the Magen Avraham (204:16). In addition, in determining the Berachah on a mixed product, we recite a Berachah on the more important ingredient, even though the other ingredient may constitute a majority of the product (Mishnah Berurah 212:1). Thus, Rav Shlomo Zalman concludes that it is possible to recite Borei Pri HaGefen on grape juice from concentrate, even though the water added to the grape juice concentrate retains the status of water and has not attained the status of wine.
Berachah Acharonah on Grape Juice from Concentrate
Nonetheless, Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that there is a complication regarding the recitation of the Berachah Acharonah of Al HaGefen on grape juice from concentrate, since we cannot count the water component towards the Shiur of a Reviit (approximately three ounces). This amount of wine must be drunk within the time that it normally takes to drink a Reviit or eat a Pras of food (see Mishnah Berurah 209:1) in order to warrant such a Berachah Acharonah. Rav Shlomo Zalman concludes that just as the Mishnah Berurah (208:48) rules that we should not count non-flour components of cake to the Shiur of KeZayit required in order to recite Al HaMichyah, so too we should not consider the water added to grape juice concentrate for the required Reviit.
We should note that there is considerable discussion regarding the aforementioned ruling of the Mishnah Berurah; see that entire passage in the Mishnah Berurah, Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 202:10), Chazon Ish (O.C. 26:8), and Teshuvot Igrot Moshe (O.C. 1:71). We should also note that this aspect of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s ruling seems to be difficult, as he seems to rule (in a responsum printed in the very same volume – Teshuvot Minchat Shlomo 1:91:4) that sugar that is fully integrated into a food such as cake does count toward a KeZayit. Similarly, the water added to the concentrate fully integrates with the grape juice and would appear therefore to count towards the Shiur of Reviit according to Rav Shlomo Zalman’s own standards.
Kiddush on Grape Juice from Concentrate
Finally, Rav Shlomo Zalman writes that he believes that we cannot use grape juice from concentrate for Kiddush. He refers to the dispute that rages amongst the Rishonim regarding the permissibility of Yayin Mevushal (cooked wine) for Kiddush, which we reviewed in last week’s essay. Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that even the Rishonim who find Yayin Mevushal to be acceptable for Kiddush would agree that grape juice from concentrate is unacceptable for Kiddush, asthey only validate Yayin Mevushal because they believe that cooking the wine enhances it (see Rosh, Bava Batra 6:10).
However, when the grape juice is reduced to concentrate, it is certainly disqualified from use for Kiddush. Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that the grape juice’s acceptability for Kiddush is not restored after water has been added to it, since the quality of the grape juice is somewhat downgraded by the process involved in evaporating the water from the original grape juice (unlike the process of cooking wine, which improves the wine, as explained by the Rosh). He believes that its disqualification from use for Kiddush is permanent. (Rav Belsky clarified that this is not due to concern of Dichui [see Sukkah 33], as Dichui is a concept that is relevant only to a Cheftza Shel Mitzvah such as a Lulav.)
One could respond that the reduction in quality of the grape juice is very subtle and thus should not be Halachically relevant. Indeed, Rav Shlomo Zalman in the very same volume of Teshuvot Minchat Shlomo (number 25) rules that the pasteurization process does not render wine Yayin Mevushal since the change effected by the cooking is minimal and very subtle. Although we noted last week that Rav Shlomo Zalman’s approach to this matter is not accepted by many Poskim, one could nevertheless argue that the slight change in quality of grape juice from concentrate is insignificant.
We should also mention that most Poskim generally believe that concentrated food regains its earlier status when it is reconstituted. For example, the Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 41:4 ; but see Teshuvot Har Zvi Y.D. 103-104) rules that powdered milk is still considered milk when it is reconstituted (the Chazon Ish writes in the context of the prohibition of Chalav Akum). A careful reading of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s highly nuanced arguments reveals that he fundamentally agrees with the Chazon Ish regarding this point.
Criticism of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s Ruling
Rav Yisrael Belsky mentioned at the aforementioned OU conference on wine and grape juice that the practice in this country, sanctioned by eminent Poskim, has been to consider grape juice from concentrate as acceptable for Kiddush. This practice predates Rav Shlomo Zalman Teshuva by many years. Moreover, Rav Shlomo Zalman notes at the beginning of his Teshuva that it is widely accepted to use grape juice from concentrate for Kiddush.
In fact, none of the other Teshuvot that we cited last week that permit using grape juice for Kiddush (such as Rav Frank and Rav Henkin’s Teshuvot) distinguish between grape juice made from concentrate and grape juice that is not made from concentrate. Moreover, Rav Belsky reports that when informed of Rav Shlomo Zalman’s ruling, Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv responded that there is an explicit Talmudic passage that contradicts this ruling (although it is unclear to which Talmudic passage Rav Eliashiv alluded).
Rav Gedalia Felder (Yesodei Yeshurun 3:219-221) writes that he believes that grape juice from concentrate is acceptable for Kiddush (although he writes that he has not issued a ruling “Halacha LeMaaseh,” but merely expressed his thoughts on the matter). Rav Felder adduces a proof to his position from Sukkah 12a, as explained by Tosafot (Yoma 76b s.v. Gamar). The Gemara refers to imported coagulated wine, which Tosafot explain is drunk when reconstituted. Rav Felder writes, “This provides clear proof that wine whose water is removed has its original status of wine restored when it is subsequently reconstituted.”
Rav Belsky stated that Shabbat 77a, as explained by Tosafot (I believe he refers to s.v. VeOd, where Tosafot state that such wine is even suitable for a Kos Shel Berachah, ritual purposes) constitutes similar proof that wine whose water has been removed has its original status restored when reconstituted. Rav Shlomo Zalman anticipates this argument and distinguishes between coagulated wine, whose original status can be restored when it is reconstituted, and grape juice concentrate whose original status cannot be so restored.
Rav Shlomo Zalman argues that fundamentally grape juice does not merit a special Berachah. We recite Borei Pri HaGefen only because of its potential to become wine, as we discussed earlier. Hence, the moment it loses its potential to become wine, which occurs when it is in concentrate form, grape juice is categorized in its more fundamentally correct status as an ordinary drink upon which a Shehakol is recited. Wine, on the other hand, fundamentally merits a special Berachah and does not lose its special status as wine when it assumes a solid form.
Rav Belsky responds that we find no source in the Gemara to distinguish between wine and grape juice regarding this matter, which seems to greatly weaken Rav Shlomo Zalman’s argument. Moreover, Rav Belsky argues that since the Gemara believes that coagulated wine can be restored to its original status when it is reconstituted, then most certainly grape juice concentrate, which has not changed its original form, should be restored to its original status when reconstituted.
Finally, we should note that Menachot 54b as explained by Rashi (Pesachim 33b s.v. Zeitim VeAnavim) also seems to constitute clear proof that when a dehydrated substance is reconstituted its original status is restored despite the fact that the water added is not from the original item. Rav Shlomo Zalman responds that when grape juice is reduced to concentrate it is considered to have lost its original form entirely, and thus the “new” water that is introduced to it cannot integrate into the concentrate and restore it to its original status. This argument appears difficult, and I believe that Rav Eliashiv was referring to this section of Menachot 54a when he stated that there is an explicit passage in the Gemara that contradicts Rav Shlomo Zalman’s ruling.
All of the Teshuvot of Rav Shlomo Zalman are characterized by profound thought and penetrating logic (I find learning each of his Teshuvot to be an exhilarating Torah experience). They all require much effort to fully comprehend and analyze. Nonetheless, it seems that consensus opinion of Rabbanim and the prevailing custom does not accept this particular ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman. Indeed, Rav Belsky stated that we may continue to rely on the many Poskim who found reconstituted grape juice acceptable for Kiddush. In addition, we should note that Rav Moshe Heinemann of the Star-K rules (see http://www.star-k.com/kashrus/kk-thirst-wine.htm) that grape juice from concentrate is restored to its original status even regarding Kiddush, provided that the water added in the reconstitution process is no more than six times the amount of the grape juice concentrate and that the resulting product tastes like grape juice (see Rama O.C. 204:5 and Mishnah Berurah 204:32). Finally, Dayan Weisz (Teshuvot Minchat Yitzchak 7:61) seems to disagree with Rav Shlomo Zalman, as he specifically discusses reconstituted grape juice and makes no mention of the concerns that appear in the Minchat Shlomo.
Next week we shall, IY”H and B”N, discuss the permissibility of using grape juice for the Arba Kosot on Pesach based on the ideas we have so far developed.