Beit Midrash

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“Hatov Vehametiv”

Wine is unique in that it not only satiates, it also gladdens the heart. Each type of wine has its own unique character, and when additional types of wine are consumed in company there is greater joy - and therefore a special blessing is recited.


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

1. "Hatov Vehametiv" for Additional Wines
2. Conditions of "Hatov Vehametiv"

"Hatov Vehametiv" for Additional Wines
The sages composed a special blessing to be pronounced when people consume more than one type of wine. For example, if a number of people were drinking one type of wine and then began drinking a different type, they must bless "hatov vehametiv" over the second wine, regardless of the fact that they recited "boreh pri hagefen" over the first. What is more, if a third wine is brought, the "hatov vehametiv" blessing is recited over it as well, and so forth with every additional type of wine. The idea behind this blessing is to thank God for the multiplicity of wine.

This law is unique to wine. If people were eating one type of bread and then began eating another type of bread, the original "Hamotzi" blessing covers the second bread as well. The same is true of different types of meat; one blessing is enough for them all. Only for wine did the sages institute a special blessing for variety.

This is because wine is unique in that not only does it satiate, it also gladdens the heart. In addition, each type of wine has its own unique character, and when additional types of wine are consumed in company there is greater joy. This is why the sages instituted a special blessing over the consumption of additional types of wine (Berachot 59b; Tosefot and Rosh ad loc.).

The second wine need not be any better than the first. So long as it is clear that the second wine is no worse than the first, it receives the "hatov vehametiv" blessing; because it is different, there is something novel in its taste and nature. Therefore, if there are a number of wines on the table, "boreh pri hagefen" is recited over the first, and "hatov vehametiv" is recited over every additional wine.

Even if the second wine is of the same variety as the first, so long as the wines were made differently or are different vintages such that the flavor of the second is distinct from that of the first, the first receives "hagefen," and the second "hatov vehametiv." Even if the second wine is less expensive than the first, if it possesses some quality that is lacking in the first, it receives "hatov vehametiv" (Shulchan Arukh 175:2, and see also ibid. 6).

If there are two wines on the table, and one is clearly inferior to the other, Jewish law dictates that "boreh pri hagefen" be recited over the better wine, for we always bless over the choicest food. And since the second wine is clearly inferior, it does not receive the "hatov vehametiv" blessing (ibid. 3, and see Mishnah Berurah 14).

Conditions of "Hatov Vehametiv"
The "hatov vehametiv" blessing is only recited when at least two people drink together, for there is no real joy when a person drinks alone. This is reflected in the wording of the blessing "hatov vehametiv" - "He Who is good and beneficent" - "good" for him and "beneficent" for his fellow. Husband and wife, father and son, etc., are obviously considered two people for this purpose (Shulchan Arukh 175:4).

As a rule, it is best that one person recite "hatov vehametiv" on behalf of all of the other partakers, for in this manner the blessing receives greater distinction. But if they are busy eating, and they do not bother to stop and drink together, it is best that each person bless on his own (See Shulchan Arukh 175:5, 6; ibid. 213:1).

If the diners consume the first wine completely and a second wine is brought to the table, the "hatov vehametiv" blessing is not recited. The reason for this is that there is not as much joy over variety when the second wine is only brought because the first wine was finished (Mishnah Berurah 175:3).

As said, "hatov vehametiv" is recited over third, fourth, etc. wines as well. However, it is proper that while blessing "hatov vehametiv" over the second wine there be no additional wines on the table over which this blessing will be recited later. This is because some authorities hold that if these wines are on the table, the "hatov vehametiv" blessing over the second wine covers them as well.

If Kiddush was recited over grape juice and then, during the meal, actual wine was consumed, the "hatov vehametiv" blessing is not recited. This is because some authorities rule that grape juice does not have the status of wine, for it does not cause the same joy. If Kiddush was recited over a mixture of grape juice and wine, and the taste of the wine remains discernable, the "hatov vehametiv" blessing is recited over a second wine provided that it is different than the wine that was mixed with grape juice.

Some people are very careful when it comes to the "hatov vehametiv" blessing and adopt all of the various stringencies. As a result they almost never bless "hatov vehametiv." It is advisable, however, that such people at least mentally recite the "hatov vehametiv" blessing in appropriate circumstances. In practice, almost all later authorities rule that the "hatov vehametiv" blessing should indeed be recited over the consumption of additional wines.
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