Avodah Zarah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Twelve



The final mishnah in chapter four is a continuation of mishnah eleven.  It continues to discuss a Jew who makes wine that belongs to a non-Jew, with the intent of the Jew purchasing it.


Mishnah Twelve

1)                     If [a Jew] prepares a non-Jew’s wine in a state of ritual purity and leaves it in [the non-Jew’s] domain, and the [non-Jew] writes for him “I have received the money from you,” then [the wine] is permitted.

2)                     If, however, the Jew wished to remove it and [the non-Jew] refuses to let it go until he paid him — this actually happened in Beth-Shan and [the Rabbis] prohibited it.



Again, what we constantly need to know in the types of circumstances mentioned in this mishnah and in the previous one is the likelihood that the non-Jew touched the wine. If he did so it is forbidden as yen nesekh.

Section one:  In this case the non-Jew has already written out a receipt that he has received the money for the wine.  Even if he preemptively wrote the receipt before he received the money, in this case the non-Jew will assumedly not touch the wine.  If the Jew really has paid the money then it simply belongs to the Jew, and the non-Jew will not touch wine that doesn’t belong to him.  If the Jew has not really paid the money, the non-Jew will not touch it for if he does, the Jew will not pay him. However, the Talmud adds that the wine must be kept under lock in order to make these assumptions.

Section two:  However, if the non-Jew demonstrates that he doesn’t consider the wine to really belong to the Jew until he pays the money, then we cannot assume that he has not touched it.  Since the non-Jew still considers himself the owner, he may allow himself to take some of the wine, even though the Jew made it in order to subsequently pay for the wine.  The mishnah relates that this case actually happened in Beth Shan (see also Mishnah Avodah Zarah 1:4, for another case that happened in Beth Shan).      


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Section one:  Why do you think that the Talmud demands that the wine must be kept under lock?  Think of the similarities between this situation and that in the previous mishnah.