Using beverages other than wine

Using wine over other beverages:[1] One is to say Havdala over wine even if he has other significant beverages available.[2] If one does not have wine at home but has at home other significant beverages, he is not required to purchase wine rather than use the other significant beverages. Nevertheless even in such a case it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to purchase wine from the store to say Havdala rather than to say Havdala on the other available beverages.

Motzei Pesach:[3] It is accustomed to be lenient to make Havdala over beer on Motzei Pesach even if one has much wine at home available.[4] Nevertheless if the beer is not currently beloved to the person, it is better to make Havdala over wine even on Motzei Pesach. Furthermore the above allowance only applies in those areas that beer is considered a significant drink.

One who does not have enough wine to fill the cup:[5] Even if one does not have enough wine to fill the entire cup, if he has a Revius of wine it is better to say Havdala over this wine than to say Havdala over a full cup of other significant beverages. [If one does not even have a Revius of wine, then he can add water to the wine until it reaches a Revius, so long as the total ratio of water in the wine does not invalidate its Hagafen status.[6] Nevertheless based on Kabala one is never to add water to the wine when the wine is already in the cup. Therefore one is to add the water to the wine while it is still in the bottle.[7]]

If the wine is Pagum: [8] If the wine is Pagum[9] it is possible to be Mitaken the wine by adding even a small amount of water to it[10]. If there is no way to Mitaken it[11] then it is better to say Havdala over other significant beverages than to use such wine.[12] [If there are no other beverages available one may make Kiddush on pagum wine if there is no way to be Mitaken it.[13]]

If no wine is available but other beverages are available:[14] If there is no wine available one is to say Havdala over Chamar Medina[15] with exception to water.[16] [These beverages include liquor, beer, tea, coffee. See Q&A for the full details of this subject.]

If one has enough wine for either Havdala or Kos Shel Bracha after Bentching of Melaveh Malka:[17] If one is not always particular to say Birchas Hamazon over a cup of wine, it is forbidden for him to eat before Havdala, and he is thus to rather say Havdala over the wine and not have wine for Kos Shel Bracha. If however one is always particular to say Birchas Hamazon over wine, then if he does not plan to receive more wine until Sunday night[18], he may eat prior to Havdala and then after Bentching use the wine to say Havdala.


List of beverages that are considered Chamer Medina and may be used when no wine is available:[19]

  1. First choice-Alcoholic beverages:[20]
    • Beer
    • Liquor
    • Black beer[21]


  2. Second choice:[22]
    • Tea.
    • Coffee.

      * When using coffee or tea one is to make sure the beverage has cooled down to the point one can drink a Revius of it in a short amount of time.


  3. Third Choice:
  • Natural pure fruit juice.[23]
  • Milk:

    One may not use milk for Havdala.[24] However some Poskim[25] allow using it in a time of need.

  • Soft Drinks:[26]

Soft drinks may not be used for Havdala, and are considered similar to water.

[1] 296/8

[2] As it is not a Hiddur Mitzvah to say Havdala over other beverages when one has wine available. [ibid]

However based on that which Admur explains next regarding using beer on Motzei Pesach some have learned that even during the year whatever beverage is more beloved to the person may be used for Havdala, even over wine. [Biur Halacha 296 “Im Hu”; Aruch Hashulchan 296/13] Thus there were many Gedolei Yisrael which said Havdala over beer, coffee or tea even initially. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 296 footnote 89]

The Kabbalistic perspective: Based on Kabala one is to always say Havdala over wine as it has the ability to rejoice the person which is saddened due to the leave of the extra soul which it received over Shabbos. [Tolaas Yaakov brought in Taamei Haminhagim 408]

[3] 296/10

[4] As at that time the beer is more beloved to a person than is wine. [ibid]

Other Opinions: Kaf Hachaim 296/26 rules based on Kabala that one is to always say Havdala over wine rather than other beverages even if the beer is more beloved.

[5] 296/9

[6] Kaf Hachaim 296/7

[7] Ketzos Hashulchan 97 footnote 1 from Shaar Hakavanos and Mishnas Chassidim. See however Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/5 that he brings that even in this method of placing the water in the bottle it is still looked down upon based on Kabala.

[8] 296/9

[9] This means that someone drank from the wine.

[10] Based on Kabala however one is to refrain from ever adding water to his wine. [Kaf Hachaim 296/7]

[11] Such as adding any more water to the wine will invalidate [its taste or Hagafen status]. [ibid]

[12] This ruling of Admur follows the ruling of the M”A 296/5.

Other Opinions: The Rama 296/5 rules even when the wine is Pagum it is better to say Havdala over the wine than over beer. The M”A ibid learns the Rama to only be referring to beer in a country that it is not Chamer Medina. The Elya Raba however argues on this assumption in the Rama. The Kaf Hachaim 296/24 rules like Elya Raba/Rama as based on Kabala it is better to always use wine rather than beer.

[13] Admur 182/6; Kaf Hachaim 296/6

[14] 296/8

[15] The defining of a beverage as Chamer Medina is dependent on a number of factors:

  1. Wine is not commonly found in the area. If wine is commonly found in the area no other beverage is considered Chamer Medina, and it thus may not be used. [182/2; 272/10; Minchas Shabbos 96/9; Nimukei Orach Chaim 272/1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/9]
  2. The beverage is commonly drank during meals of majority of that cities populace. [272/10; Ketzos Hashulchan 97/8]
  3. The beverage must be considered of significance, and is not just a mere soft drink, and certainly is not water. [182/3]

[16] This means to say that even in a country that plane water is considered Chamer Medina, one may nevertheless not say Havdala over it. [Kaf Hachaim 296/20]

[17] 296/13

[18] So is implied from Admur, although no clear ruling is given regarding if one may be lenient in a case that he will receive wine on Sunday.

[19] It was explained in the previous footnotes that for a beverage to be considered Chamer Medina three conditions must be fulfilled [That wine is not commonly found in the city; majority of people drink this beverage during their meals; it is considered of significance]. Based on the above three conditions there is no beverage today other than wine which can be considered Chamer Medina. [So understands also Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/9; See Ketzos Hashulchan 97 footnote 8] Nevertheless in a time of need the practice is to be lenient on certain beverages. See sources in the following footnotes for more information on this matter.

[20] Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/9; Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos Supplements p. 67; See Admur 182/3

[21] Although black beer is non-alcoholic, it is similar to the relation of grape juice to wine, in which case grape juice has a similar status as does wine even though it is non-alcoholic. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 296 footnote 98

[22] See Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos Supplements p. 66; Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/9; The Alter Rebbe and Rebbe Rashab both made Havdala over coffee prior to their passing away. [Ishkavta Derebbe p. 97] Likewise the Rebbe is recorded to having given instructions to soldiers in the American army to say Havdala over coffee or tea. [Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1/140]

Other Opinions: Ketzos Hashulchan 97 footnote 8 rules one may not use tea or coffee for Havdala as these beverages are not considered Chamer Medina, as one never sets a meal with these beverages. Setting a meal with these beverages is defined not as sitting with friends and drinking it, but as a drink which is commonly brought and drank during a meal.

[23] Natural pure fruit juice may be used for Havdala. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 296/9; 272/9; SSH”K 60/5] However see Miluim Kitzur Halachos p. 66 which considers fruit juices an insignificant beverage.

[24] Shaareiy Teshuvah rules one may not use milk for Havdala, and so brings Ketzos Hashulchan 97 footnote 8; So ruled also Rebbe in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1/140

[25] Aruch Hashulchan 272/14

[26] Admur 182/5; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

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