Questions About Rachatz



I have some questions about rachatz. Some will be opinion questions. Please answer whatever you like and leave the rest.

It concerns the wedding at Cana, John chapter 2 — which I copy here:

— On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it.

When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

1) That sounds like an awful lot of water for rachatz before oneg — some 150 gallons for a rather small synagogue. Could it be that the water was left there continually for anybody attending or visiting the schul to daily wash up?

2) Archaeologists find that the synagogue had a mikvah, underground nearby, I think. Could it be that a woman or a man coming for a mikvah would take a pitcher of this water with him to rinse off before entering the mikvah?

3) Would people ladle out water to wash their hands? Or is it possible, at that time, they might have dipped their hands?

4) Would the wine in these stone jars defile them? And if so, would they need to be replaced?

5) Jesus didn’t need to use these jars nor this water. He told the servants to dip out some wine and bring it to the steward. It wasn’t a public miracle. Only the servants and, I suppose, some of the disciples knew about the specially produced wine. But John calls it, not a miracle, but a sign. Other than the obvious (wine is a nicer drink than water,) — and this was before Jesus equated wine with his blood — what, in your opinion, could have been the sign Jesus intended?

I will be very much pleased to hear back from you.




  1. The sources that you are asking about are Christian sources. As Just Ask! is a Jewish resource for all questions to do with Judaism, I think that you might be better served by asking a Christian resource instead.

    Best wishes from the Team