“Wine gladdens the hearts of men.” -- Tehillim 104:15
By Moshe Kinderlehrer/Co-Publisher
It gives me much pride and pleasure to present our second annual Jewish Link Wine Guide. This year’s guide was a true labor of love and passion project for our senior staff and judges, and it gives me tremendous joy to have a part in supporting the kosher wine industry and its most passionate innovators, particularly during this time of rebirth after the lockdowns of the past two years.
This year’s guide is double the size of last year’s inaugural edition and is jam-packed with information about amazing steps forward, particularly in kosher wine’s variety and availability, modernization and the increase in kosher wine education. However, that impressive growth is not the only reason this publication is important to me as the publisher of The Jewish Link.
We all noticed, and likely experienced personally, how smachot in our culture were severely curtailed over the past two years under Covid. With everyone in their homes and fewer and smaller weddings or kiddushim to attend, we know how alone we all felt. At that same moment, our staff was first given the opportunity to publish America’s only independent publication dedicated specifically to kosher wine. I believe that many assumed we would fail, or that it would be a one-time thing. But they don’t know our staff.
Our Wine Guide editors, Elizabeth Kratz and Michal Rosenberg, combined with our volunteer founding judges, embarked on a mission of meaning, so to speak. They worked hard together with the kosher wine industry to celebrate kosher wine’s successes, and to ensure that when we returned to making smachot there would be appropriate bottles to bring for a toast.
In Tehillim, Dovid HaMelech writes, “V’yayin y’samach levav enosh (Wine gladdens the hearts of men)” and we know that while it’s important not to overindulge, there is a time and place for celebration with a small tipple.
In truth, wine used for kiddush on Shabbat or Havdala, and particularly festivals, is currently our only true connection to the Beit HaMikdash. As Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira says in the Gemara: When the Temple is standing, rejoicing is only through the eating of sacrificial meat, as it is stated: “And you shall sacrifice peace-offerings and you shall eat there and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God” (Devarim 27:7). Now that the Temple is not standing (and one cannot eat sacrificial meat) one can fulfill the mitzvah of rejoicing on a festival only by drinking wine.
But as important as it is to make kiddush and indulge in wine to rejoice, the Gemara urges us to “remain settled,” and not overindulge. Rabbi Hiyya said: Anyone who remains settled mentally after drinking wine, and does not become intoxicated, has an element of the mind-set of 70 elders. Both the Hebrew spelling for wine (yayin, spelled yud (10), yud (10), nun (50)) and the word secret (sod, spelled samech (60), vav (6), dalet (4)) have the numerological value of 70. According to the Gemara in Eruvin 65a: Typically, when wine entered the body, a secret emerged. Whoever does not reveal secrets when he drinks is blessed with a clear mind, like that of 70 elders.
With that said, we hope that as we present this 80-page labor of love to our community, you will use it in good health, to help guide your Pesach and seudat mitzvah shopping. And may this year continue to be one of goodness, prosperity and simcha.
Chag Kasher V’Sameach!