Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz on Prohibition Abuse of Wine Exemption

“In “Das Neutige Operaziya” [The Necessary Operation], published in Dos Yiddishe Licht I (1923): 3-4, Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the principal of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, launched a bitter critique of Orthodox life in America by criticizing rabbinic involvement in the wine trade.

One need only consider the wine business which many rabbis are heavily engaged in. How much shame, how much degradation, how much desecration of the honor of the Torah lies therein! Rabbis who ought to be the ones to ensure that the laws of the land are upheld are instead the direct or indirect cause of their violation. . . . If truth be told, even if wine for ritual purpose were a biblical commandment, the current desecration of God’s name would still not be justified, how much more so that it is only a rabbinic commandment, and it can be fulfilled by using raisin wine! . . . Therefore, I beseech you, my brethren, no matter how great a Torah scholar a rabbi is, if he is a cause for the desecration of Heaven, he must be removed from the community.

Hannah Sprecher (1991) “Let Them Drink and Forget Our Poverty” : Orthodox Rabbis React to Prohibition.” American Jewish Archives 40:135-179.

Dos Yiddishe Licht, Volume  I:7 (1923): page 13