How Many Cups of Wine to Drink at a Mourner’s House – 10 vs 14?

Rabbi David Fried and Rabbi Drew Kaplan discussing the beraita on Ketubot 8b on how many cups of wine are to be drunk at a house of a mourner

The newest release in’s podcast & video series features Rabbi David Fried discussing with our host the question of how many cups of wine are to be consumed at a mourner’s house. Rabbi Fried currently serves as part of the Judaic Studies faculty at Hebrew High School of New England and graduated from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.

The Talmudic text under discussion is the following (bKetubot 8b):

אמר עולא ואמרי לה במתניתא תנא עשרה כוסות תקנו חכמים בבית האבל שלשה קודם אכילה כדי לפתוח את בני מעיו שלשה בתוך אכילה כדי לשרות אכילה שבמעיו וארבעה לאחר אכילה אחד כנגד הזן ואחד כנגד ברכת הארץ ואחד כנגד בונה ירושלים ואחד כנגד הטוב והמטיב
הוסיפו עליהם ארבעה אחד כנגד חזני העיר ואחד כנגד פרנסי העיר ואחד כנגד בית המקדש ואחד כנגד רבן גמליאל
התחילו היו שותין ומשתכרין
החזירו הדבר ליושנה

Ulla said – and some say of it that it was taught in a tannaitic fashion – “The sages fixed it that there would be ten cups in the mourner’s house – three before eating, in order to open up one’s stomach; three amidst the meal, in order to soak the food in one’s stomach; and four following eating – one corresponding to “The One Who Feeds” (first blessing of the Blessing Over the Meal), one corresponding to the blessing upon the land (second blessing of the Blessing Over the Meal), one corresponding to Builder of Jerusalem (third blessing of the Blessing Over the Meal), and one corresponding to The Good and The One Who Does Good (fourth blessing of the Blessing Over the Meal).
They added four to those – one corresponding to the attendants of the city, one corresponding to the benefactors of the city, one corresponding to the Sanctification House, and one corresponding to Rabban Gamaliel.
They began to drink [with these four additional cups] and they got drunk.
They returned the matter to how it used to be.”

A couple related texts that came up in the course of this discussion:
– bEruvin 64a:

מיתיבי שיכור
מקחו מקח וממכרו ממכר
עבר עבירה שיש בה מיתה ממיתין אותו מלקות מלקין אותו
כללו של דבר הרי הוא כפיקח לכל דבריו אלא שפטור מן התפלה

One who is drunk: his purchase is a purchase and his sale is a sale.
If he transgressed a transgression for which he should be put to death – they kill him; for one that he should be lashed – they lash him.
Here is the general principle: he is like a normally-functioning person in all matters except that he is exempt from prayer.

For further discussion of this text, see “Drinking & Praying? How Do The Rabbis Approach Drunken Prayer?”
– tBava Batra 6.4:

היה הולך לבית האבל ולבית המשתה היה בידו לגין של יין המתקשקש לא ימלאנו מים מפני שטוענו טענת חנם
ואם היה חבר עיר הרי זה מותר

If one was walking to either a house of mourning or a house of drinking and had a flagon of wine in his hand which was shaking about, he should not fill it up with water, because it is unnecessarily deceptive to others.
But if he was a known person in town, it is permissible.

For a broader context, see this source sheet on houses of drinking in the Mishnah and Tosefta.

The episode is available in both audio and video below:

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