Fruit of the Vine - An Extraordinary Blessing!
Mosaic from archeological excavation in Zippori,
Israel depicting the grape harvest.
The Blessing over wine:
"Blessed are You, Eternal our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine."
"Baruch Atah Hashem, Elokeinu Melech Haolam, Borei P'ri Hagafen."
In Jewish tradition wine is employed for both Kiddush (sanctification) and simcha (joyful celebration). It is part of the wedding ceremony, the beginning of each Shabbos with Kiddush and the end of Shabbos, Havdala (separation from the rest of the regular week). Wine has a similar central role at holidays including Passover where 4 cups of wine, each representing a special expression of the process of our Exodus from Egypt, are required to properly conduct the Passover Sedar. It is called ‘fruit of the vine’ in Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakot 6:1”
While botanists tell us tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries and cucumbers are all technically fruits that grow on vines; this particular phrase is a well recognized metaphor for grapes that produce wine. The blessing over which is obligatory prior to ingestion.
Indeed, fruits of trees and produce from the ground have different blessings but, because it is such a special category, this blessing is dedicated exclusively to grapes and wine.
Jews have many Brachas or benedictions that acknowledge the source of our blessing and the fulfillment of mitzvahs by expressing gratitude to the Creator. Gratitude is a core principal in Jewish tradition and an integral part of our identity. The term “Yehuda” (Jew in Hebrew) has at its root the word “Hodu” which means thanks or gratitude. As such, prior to conducting specific acts we have an obligation (Mitzvah in Hebrew) to recite prescribed blessings.
In a sharp and compelling contrast to this, a popular culture reference to this phrase “fruit of the vine” can also be found in the Lyrics of a Tom Paxton song (recorded by many): In it, wine is misused by a despondent and destitute rambler in an attempt to escape the gloom of his misfortune through intoxication. It inquires: “Bottle of Wine fruit of the vine, when you gonna to let me get sober?” It is a classic transference of the blame for his troubles to a bottle of wine rather than the result of his own choices. How sad we often have difficulty suppressing the inclination to do that with other people let alone intimate objects.
Wine can be used to amplify joy and celebration or grief and melancholy. Kosher use of wine is about the former not the latter. It really is all about context. Since Kosher wine is very much about content and context, as is the Kosher use of wine and therefore a fine title for my new book.
The follow up to my first book “L’chaim! - Users Guide to Kosher Wine 1.0” is: “Fruit of the Vine “ - The Complete Guide to Kosher Wine” . Four years of the research and writing has resulted in a comprehensive reference guide to the appreciation of fine Kosher wine from around the world. It is expected in September at book stores and online.
Watch for press releases and updates as available.