12/14/10

Archaeology of the Rules of Toasts Scroll

We were surprised to read recently about the discovery of a new text related to toasting.

A paper boy in Ho-Ho-Kus New Jersey errantly tossed the Sunday Times into a garage and heard a breaking of pottery. He entered and found a Hebrew manuscript which he spirited away and sold on the black market.

Scholars are still arguing about the interpretation of the text using various pseudonyms on the Internet.

It appears that the text comes from an previously unknown book called the Toastefta and it represents a chapter from the Tractate Toast Hashanah. It contains the rules of toasting. A translation follows:
1. There are five kinds of toasts:
a. the solemn
b. the sentimental
c. the humorous
d. the bawdy
e. and the insulting
2. Before making a toast one must tap on his wineglass.
  a. Some say, Tapping is rude.

3. If there are more than ten people present, you must stand to toast.

4. The host offers the first toast to the guest of honor. Then the others may offer their toasts.

5. After hearing a toast one may say, "Hear hear."
  a. Some say, “Shema, shema”

6. During the toasts the honored guest neither stands nor drinks.

7. After the toasts the honored guest rises and thanks the one who has offered the toast.
  a. Some say he may offer a toast in return.

8. Guests should leave wine in the glass after each toast so there will be enough for many toasts.

9. It is improper to put down one's glass before the toast is over.

10. It is improper to hold your glass without drinking.
  a. Some say that even the non-drinker must hold up a glass of wine for a toast.

11. Over what may they toast?
a. The drink for a proper toast must be alcoholic, like champagne or sparkling wine.
b. Some say, On the New Year one must drink only champagne.
c. Others say, One may use sparkling fruit juice.
d. And still others say, One may drink water for a toast.
12. Toasting on an empty glass is boorish.
  a. Some say, If a non-drinking person toasted on an empty glass with the proper intentions, he fulfilled his obligation.