||On the prohibition against drinking gentile wine (stam yayin) and shaving one’s beard by R. Nathan Nata ben Reuben David Spira. Italian Jewry was considered lax in their observance of these mitzvot, necessitating this work. These two proscriptions, the former a rabbinic decree based on the Talmud, the other biblical, are codified in the Shulhan Arukh. R. Spira’s approach is kabbalistic, as is that of many of the other contributors to Yayin ha-Meshummar. There is an approbation from R. Zevi Hirsch Spira of Munkacs, prefatory remarks from R.Meshulam Zusha Grenfeld who brought the book to press, R. Spira’s introduction, and then the text in a single column in rabbinic type. Included in Yayin ha-Meshummar are the letters and works from numerous other rabbis in Salonika and Constantinople on the subject of the book, R. Samuel de Medina, (Maharashdam, 1506–1589).
R. Nathan Nata ben Reuben David Spira (d. 1666) was born in Cracow, where his father was a dayyan. His grandfather, after whom he is named, was the Megalleh Amukkot. R. Spira served as rabbi in several locations in Poland prior to settling in Erez Israel, where he became rabbi of the Ashkenaz community. After tach ve-tat (the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-49) he went to Europe to raise funds for the Jewish communities in Erez Israel, which suffered due to a decline in support because of the devastation in Europe. Among the communities he visited was Amsterdam, where his influence caused Manasseh Ben Israel to bring the plight of Polish Jewry to Oliver Cromwell’s attention. Although he returned to Jerusalem R. Spira again traveled to Europe, where he died in Reggio, Italy.