Jewish Prayers respecting various Drinks - Women's Tears - Dew -Oil - Sea Water - Blood - Vegetable Water - Ganges Water -Vinegar - Ptisana - Toast Water - Bragget - Ballston Water -arm Water - Asses' Milk - Ghee - Milk Beer - Kumyss - Syra - Lamb Wine - Rice Wine - Garapa - Fenkal - Brandy and Port - Methylated Spirit.
In the Jewish prayers there is an especial, exclusive and extensive blessing upon wine, which runs in the following wise:
"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, universal King, for the vine, and for the fruit of the vine, and for the produce of the field, and for the land of delight and goodness and amplitude which Thou hast been pleased to give as an inheritance to thy people Israel, to eat of its fruit, and to be satisfied with its goodness." Then follow petitions for the divine mercy upon those who say the blessing upon Israel, God's people, and upon God's city, Jerusalem, and upon Zion, the dwelling-place of His glory, and upon His altar, and upon His temple.
The blessing concludes with a prayer for speedy transportation into the holy city: "Bring us up into the midst thereof eftsoons, even in these present days, that we may bless Thee in purity and holiness. For Thou art good, and the Giver of good to all. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, for the land and for the fruit of the vine."
This beautiful prayer,1 of which only the roughest sketch has been given here, has been said by pious Hebrews at every meal in which wine has been drunk from time immemorial. But upon wine alone has this honour been conferred. Those who drink Shecar, or water, or any other beverage except wine, say before their draught thus much only: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, universal King, by whose word all things were made;' and after it, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our. God, universal King, the Creator of many souls, and their needs, for all which Thou hast created, to keep alive the soul of every living thing. Blessed art Thou who livest everlastingly."
But these two prayers have no especial and necessary relation to drinks. They are also used where aught is eaten which has not grown originally and directly out of the earth, as, for example, the flesh of some beasts, and birds, and fishes, and cheese, milk, butter, and honey.
In the present work particular attention has been given, in the case of alcoholic drinks, to wines, spirits, liqueurs, and beers, and in the case of non-alcoholic, to mineral waters, tea, coffee, and other beverages usually considered non-intoxicant; but under both these widely extended categories a large number of drinks must enter of which no mention whatever has been made in the preceding pages. It remains for us, therefore, to consider in the present chapter the most interesting and important of these drinks which have been hitherto excluded. Of the curious and, in many cases, repulsive liquids which have from time to time been taken, either to assuage the pangs of human thirst, or to gratify the taste of the human palate in health or in disease, the reader who has not devoted some little time and attention to the investigation of this subject will probably have but a very faint conception To go no farther back on the pathway of time than to the age of John Taylor, the water poet, we find so strange a drink as women's tears.
1 The form of this thanksgiving is very nearly akin to that said on the occasion of eating any of the five kinds of cooked food from which the challah is due.
But at a date far earlier than that of the water poet, the date of the Babylonian Talmud, in Machshirin, vi. 64, there are seven liquids comprehended under the generic term drink (Lev. xi. 34, and therefore liable to ceremonial defilement), dew, water, wine, oil, blood, milk, and honey. Upon every one of these seven liquids something curious and interesting might be written.
About these drinks a question arises in the Talmud, whether under water are included such beverages as mulberry water, pomegranate water, and other waters of fruits which have a shem livoui, or compound name. Rambam the great Eagle, more commonly known as Maimonides, seems to exclude these drinks from the general category. By honey is to be understood the honey of bees; the honey of hornets is not to be numbered in the list. In the Tosephoth of Shabbath it is asked, How do we know that blood is a drink? Because it is said (Num. xxiii. 24), And drink the blood of the slain. How do we know that wine is a drink? Because it is said (Deut. xxxii. 14), And thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. How do we know that honey is a drink ? Because it is said (Deut. xxxii. 13), But He made him to suck honey out of the rock. How do we know that oil is a drink ? Because it is said (Isa. xxv. 6), A feast of fat things. How do we know that milk is a drink ? Because it is said (Judges iv. 19), And she opened a bottle of milk and gave him drink. How do we know that dew is a drink ? Because it is said (Judges vi. 38), And wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. There is a curious addition, reminding us of Taylor, the water poet. How do we know that the tears of the eye are a drink ? Because it is said (Ps. lxxx. 5), And givest them tears to drink in great measure. How do we know that the water of the nose is a drink ? Because - but the reader has had probably enough of the Rabbinical lucubrations.
A chapter of this book might, were not space a consideration, be devoted to water, which Thales 1 declared to be the first principle of things, and, according to Seneca,2 valentissimum elementum. Iced, it was inveighed 3 against by the Stoic philosopher, as injurious to the stomach. The desire for it was said to proceed from a pampered appetite. Pliny 1 speaks of a wine made from sea water, but considers it, with Celsus, a bad stomachic. In later times sea water has been converted into fresh.
1 Arist., Metaph., i. 3.
2 Seneca, Nat. Quaest., iii. 13.
3 Ibid., iv. 13.