Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Pouring wine at seder (2)

24 April, 2006

Question:

I read the question and your answer posted here, luckily this year I managed to avoid this issue, but have had to deal with it in the past, my question is wouldn't circumstances and intent have a lot to do with what is and is not prohibited, what I mean is that once could make the argument that if a husband and wife were home alone the intent of her pouring him wine could be considered a sign of affection, however at the seder the intent of someone else pouring wine would as a sign of freedom, and certainly with an entire family around a husband and wife not pouring wine for each other would be pretty obvious, wouldn't maintaining privacy be a consideration?


Answer:

These are good questions and they are discussed in halachic literature. 

The halachah of not pouring wine for a spouse is in effect regardless of intent. 

The concept of kavod habriyot, human dignity, sometimes allows for halachic leniency in order to spare public embarrassment.  So if it is impossible to avoid pouring for each other without severe embarrassment, one could make an argument for allowing it so long as the couple avoids touching.  However, based on our own experiences, we think it is not too embarrassing to casually ask someone else to pour.  The custom is for someone else to pour at the seder, not specifically for the spouse to do so.  Most people are busy getting their own cups filled anyway and will not notice.  Additionally, in religious circles, people are aware that couples observe niddah.  We find it no more embarrassing for someone to notice the couple is observing harchakot than for someone to notice the couple touch each other casually when the wife is not in niddah.  That is what our advice was based on.


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