THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) CHAMAR MEDINAH
QUESTION: The Gemara gives apparently contradictory indications whether one
may use Chamar Medinah (such as beer) for Havdalah or not. First, the Gemara
relates an incident about Ameimar, who recited Havdalah on beer when he went
to a city in which beer was the Chamar Medinah. The Gemara then quotes Rav
Chisda who said in the name of Rav that one may not recite Kidush or
Havdalah on beer, and Rav Tachlifa who said the same thing in the name of
Shmuel. Finally, the Gemara relates that Rebbi was prepared to make Kidush
on a very tasty beer, and that Rav himself made Kidush on beer.
2) HALACHAH: USING CHAMAR MEDINAH FOR KIDUSH AND HAVDALAH
What is the conclusion of the Gemara? Is it permitted to recite Kidush or
Havdalah on Chamar Medinah? First, the Gemara relates an incident that
teaches that Chamar Medinah is acceptable, and then it quotes opinions which
say that it is not acceptable. In the third stage of the Gemara, it records
the practice of Rebbi and Rav and implies that using beer *is* acceptable!
How are we to understand this Sugya?
(a) The RASHBAM (DH Mahu) as explained by the ROSH (10:17) says that Rav
Chisda and the other Amora'im who say that one may not recite Kidush or
Havdalah on Chamar Medinah indeed argue with Ameimar. However, the Halachah
follows Ameimar, that one may make Havdalah on beer when it is Chamar
Medinah (because "Ma'aseh Rav;" we see that he conducted himself in practice
according to that opinion). The Rishonim debate whether Ameimar would also
permit reciting *Kidush* on Chamar Medinah.
When the Gemara mentions that Rebbi and Rav permitted reciting Kidush on
beer, apparently it is referring to using beer when it is *not* the Chamar
Medinah. The Rashbam (DH Chamar Medinah) writes that a popular drink is only
considered Chamar Medinah when there is no wine in the city. We know that
Rebbi was very wealthy and he certainly had wine where he lived. Rav, also,
was very wealthy, and it is extremely unlikely that there was no wine
available in his city other than beer. Rather, it must be that there is
another reason to permit using beer for Kidush or Havdalah even when it is
not the Chamar Medinah -- and that is when the beverage is beloved to the
person. If the beverage is tastier to the person than wine, he may use it
for Kidush and Havdalah (as the Gemara says about the beer which Rebbi
permitted to be used for Kidush, "It was especially sweet"). Similarly, as
Rav Huna pointed out, beer was especially cherished by Rav, and that is why
he was permitted to make Kidush on beer. (See MAHARSHA)
(b) TOSFOS (106b, DH Mekadesh) suggests that the Amora'im who prohibited
using beer for Kidush and Havdalah were discussing a place where it was
*not* the Chamar Medinah. Where beer is not the Chamar Medinah, one may not
use it. Why, then did Rebbi and Rav use beer? Again, we must say that Rebbi
and Rav were allowed to make Kidush on beer even though it was not the
Chamar Medinah, because they were particularly fond of beer.
The RASHASH points out that this might be the Rashbam's intent as well (in
contrast to the way the Rosh understood the Rashbam).
(c) The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 296:12) rules that even where beer is the Chamar
Medinah, it should still not be used l'Chatchilah if wine is available.
However, if a person is especially fond of beer and it is *also* the Chamar
Medinah, then he is allowed to use it l'Chatchilah. Accordingly, we may
suggest that the Amora'im who ruled that one may not use beer were even
referring to a case where beer was the Chamar Medinah, and when they said
that it could not be used, they meant that it could not be used
l'Chatchilah. Rebbi and Rav, though, who did use beer l'Chatchilah, used it
because they were especially fond of it. The entire Sugya, then, from
beginning to end is discussing beer when it is the Chamar Medinah.
This interpretation will depend on the definition of Chamar Medinah. Those
who learn that Chamar Medinah means that no wine is available in the place,
cannot explain that beer can be used b'Di'eved when it is Chamar Medinah.
*Every case* of Chamar Medinah by definition is a case of b'Di'eved, for an
item is only considered Chamar Medinah when there is no wine available.
However, the above explanation, that the Gemara is referring to using Chamar
Medinah l'Chatchilah, works well according to the definition of the RAMBAM
that Chamar Medinah means any beverage which most of the people in the city
drink and view as a significant drink. (See next Insight.)
The Gemara discusses whether one may use Chamar Medinah for Kidush and
Havdalah. Several opinions are offered (see previous Insight). What is the
definition of Chamar Medinah, and what is the Halachah?
[I] What is Chamar Medinah?
(a) The RASHBAM (DH Chamar Medinah) defines Chamar Medinah as the beverage
used as the substitute for wine in a city where no wine is available.
[II] What is the Halachah with regard to reciting Kidush or Havdalah on
(b) The ROSH (10:17) cites the Rashbam's definition and says that others
define Chamar Medinah in a different way. Others define it as a substitute
for wine in a place where wine is not produced near the city within the
distance that a person walks in one day.
This can be understood in two ways. The TUR (OC 272) implies that it is a
Chumra, more stringent than the Rashbam's definition. That is, in order for
a beverage to be considered Chamar Medinah, not only must there be no wine
available in the city, but there also must be no winery near the city
(within a distance of one day's travel). However, the Acharonim (MAGEN
AVRAHAM OC 182:2) understand it to be a Kula, more *lenient* than the
Rashbam's definition. That is, even if there *is* wine in the city, another
beverage will still be considered Chamar Medinah if the wine is not produced
locally; in such a case, the second most significant beverage in the city
becomes the Chamar Medinah.
The MORDECHAI adds that even if grapes usually grow near the city, but one
year they did not grow, then the significant beverage in that city is also
considered Chamar Medinah in such a situation.
The Achronim (BEIS YOSEF) point out that the presence or absence of wine in
a city determines whether an important beverage is considered Chamar Medinah
only when that wine is Jewish-made wine. If there is wine made by gentiles,
that does not affect the status of a beverage as Chamar Medinah.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 29:17) explains that a beverage is
considered Chamar Medinah when most of the people in the city drink beer
instead of wine. It seems from the Rambam that even if wine is common in the
city, and even common in the person's home, if beer is consumed instead of
wine in that city, it is called Chamar Medinah (BI'UR HALACHAH OC 272:9).
According to all of the opinions, the status of Chamar Medinah does not
depend on what beverage is popular in a particular person's household, but
it depends on the state of that beverage in the whole city. That is why
Ameimar did not make Havdalah on beer the first year he visited a certain
city, but only the following year, for that is when he realized that the
entire city used beer and not wine.
The Gemara relates that Ameimar relied on Chamar Medinah for reciting
Havdalah. The Halachah follows his opinion, because "Ma'aseh Rav" -- we see
that he conducted himself *in practice* according to that opinion.
Therefore, Chamar Medinah may be used for Havdalah. Even though several
Amora'im in the Gemara hold that one may *not* recite Havdalah on beer even
when it is Chamar Medinah, the Halachah follows the opinion of Ameimar.
That is the Halachah concerning Havdalah. What is the Halachah concerning
(a) The ROSH says that since Ameimar disagrees with the other opinion as far
as Havdalah is concerned, we may assume that he also argues with them
concerning Kidush (for the Amora'im who argue with him equate Havdalah and
Kidush). Therefore, since the Halachah follows Ameimar, we may use Chamar
Medinah for Kidush.
HALACHAH: The ROSH rules with a compromise, as the TUR (OC 272) and SHULCHAN
ARUCH cite him. The Rosh rules that for Kidush at night, since one may use
bread for Kidush, one should use bread and not Chamar Medinah. In the
morning, though, it is better to use Chamar Medinah than to use bread. Since
the entire Kidush in the morning is comprised of only the blessing for wine
(or for whatever one is using for Kidush), if one uses bread for Kidush, it
will not be recognizable as Kidush, because the blessing for bread is
recited anyway in order to eat the meal. Therefore, it is better to use
Chamar Medinah for Kidush in the morning than to use bread. The RAN points
out that even the Rambam, who maintains that Kidush at night may not be
recited on Chamar Medinah, would agree that in the morning one may recite
Kidush on Chamar Medinah.
TOSFOS (106b, DH Mekadesh) suggests that those opinions that say one may not
recite Kidush on beer were discussing a situation where beer was *not* the
Chamar Medinah. Therefore, in a place where beer *is* the Chamar Medinah,
perhaps even those opinions will agree that one may recite Kidush on it (see
previous Insight, (b)).
(b) However, the ROSH cites RAV AMRAM GA'ON who disagrees and states that
Chamar Medinah may only be used for Havdalah (as was Ameimar's practice),
but not for Kidush, because the other Amora'im do not permit using it for
Kidush and Ameimar never argued with them explicitly with regard to Kidush.
This is also the ruling of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Shabbos 29:17). The HAGAHOS
MAIMONI says that this is the ruling of "all of the Ge'onim v'Kadmonim."
What is the logic to differentiate between Kidush and Havdalah? TOSFOS and
the RAN suggest that since -- when no wine is available -- one may recite
Kidush on bread, the Rabanan did not give the option of reciting it on
Chamar Medinah. Havdalah, though, has nothing to do with eating a meal, so
there is no option to recite Havdalah on bread. Therefore, the Rabanan gave
the option of using Chamar Medinah.
What about reciting Birkas ha'Mazon over a cup of Chamar Medinah? Since
there are opinions which hold that Birkas ha'Mazon does not need to be
recited over a cup of wine altogether, one may certainly be lenient and use
Chamar Medinah for Birkas ha'Mazon.
For Havdalah, one may certainly use Chamar Medinah (SHULCHAN ARUCH OC 182:2,
As we have learned, the Halachah is that where wine is available, one must
use wine; any other significant beverage is not considered Chamar Medinah.
The BACH (OC 272), therefore, is extremely perplexed why the widespread
practice in his time was to recite Kidush during the day on whiskey. If one
has wine available, he must certainly use wine, for the whiskey is no longer
considered Chamar Medinah! The Bach writes that this point was raised at the
annual rabbinical convention of that time, and although everyone
acknowledged that the practice of the great Sages was to recite Kidush
during the day on whiskey, they had no clear reason why (see ARUCH
HA'SHULCHAN OC 272:14).
It seems that the practice to recite Kidush during the day on whiskey even
where wine is available is based on the opinion of the Rambam, who rules
that even if there is wine in the city, if most of the people drink beer
instead of wine most of the time, it is considered Chamar Medinah.
Similarly, since most people would drink whiskey more often than wine, it
became the Chamar Medinah, according to the Rambam's definition (see SHA'AR
HA'TZION OC 182:4). Even though Chamar Medinah may only be used b'Di'eved,
and l'Chatchilah one should use wine, it could be that since the Rambam does
not mention that it may only be used b'Di'eved, he holds that it may even be
Alternatively, we find that the REMA (OC 296:2) does rule that one may use
Chamar Medinah only b'Di'eved, even though he seems to rule like the Rambam.
The Rema, however, adds that if the person considers the Chamar Medinah to
be more tasty than wine, then he may use it l'Chatchilah (this is based on
our Gemara that relates that Rebbi and Rav would use beer l'Chatchilah, even
though they undoubtedly had wine available; see previous Insight, (c)). The
MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 272:29) says that since Kidush during the day is
d'Rabanan, one may be lenient and use whiskey l'Chatchilah.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (272:30; see also ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN OC 272:13) writes
that if a person uses whiskey or other spirits for Kidush or Havdalah, one
must be careful to use a cup which holds a Revi'is, like the cup one
normally uses for Kidush when using wine, and one must drink a "Melo Lugmav"
(a majority of a Revi'is). If a majority of a Revi'is is consumed among
everyone, then b'Di'eved that suffices.