Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Aged Wine

The Minchas Elazar, zt”l, would often visit Rav Shlomo Alfandri, zt”l, on Shabbos afternoon. One time, The Rebbe took along a bottle of aged wine of excellent quality so that he could make a l’chayim with Rav Shlomo. A large number of his chassidim joined him as he made his way over to the other Rav’s home. When they arrived, the two great Rabbonim wished one another a warm and heartfelt ‘gut Shabbos,’ and the Rebbe offered Rav Shlomo some of the wine that he had brought.
Rav Shlomo said, “Usually I refrain from wine, since it is not good for my health. I am sure, however, that the Munkatcher Rebbe’s wine will not damage me!” Rav Shlomo drank deeply, and then asked that wine and fruit be set out for the visiting group of chassidim. Everyone there partook of the food and drink that soon appeared on the table.
Rav Shlomo said, “We find in Megillah 16b that Yosef HaTzaddik sent wine that ‘enhances the mind of the wise’ to his father, Yaakov Avinu. This phrase teaches that the mind of the wise is like aged wine. The more they age, the deeper their understanding. The deeper their understanding, the more strength of character they have.”
The Rebbe interjected, “Actually, Rav Shmelke of Nikolsburg, zt”l, said a similar thing on the Gemara in Shabbos 152a. There we see that food helps those younger than forty, and drink helps those over forty. Rav Shmelke said that one who is younger than forty must learn a lesson from food, for it spoils with age. So too, one who is younger than forty must understand that is it only by taking full advantage of every moment of his youth that he will be able to achieve what he needs to in this world. After forty, one should learn a lesson from wine, for it improves with age. So too, the older person must be heartened by the idea that even if he hasn’t attained all that he might have wishes spiritually, his chances are far better now because his mind has developed and he has a deeper understanding than he did when he was younger. If he will only apply himself from now on, he will surely achieve his spiritual goals!”

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