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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Havdalah

Woman drinking Havdallah wine

Various Rabbis5 Nisan 5763
936
Question
My husband and I were wondering if there is a source for women not drinking the havdalah wine, and if so, what is it?
Answer
Women have customarily refrained from drinking the wine of the Havdalah ceremony. This is due to the fact that certain Halakhic authorities say that drinking such wine may possibly lead to sterility, i.e., an inability to bear children, or to the excessive growth of bodily hair (Magen Avraham; Kaf HaChaim; Taamei HaMinhagim; Responsa Har Tzvi). The reason for such grave effects is that, according to some opinions, the first woman, Eve, caused Adam to sin by convincing him to partake of the Tree of Knowledge - the fruit of which was grapes. By partaking of these grapes Adam caused a blurred distinction between good and bad to come about. In the Havdalah ceremony, we wish to differentiate between good and bad. Arukh HaShulchan, though, wrote that some do not worry about the harmful effects of Havdalah wine; and, at any rate, according to Arukh HaShulchan, if the woman is performing the ceremony for herself, then she certainly should drink the Havdalah wine. Rabbi Ro'i Margalit
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