Monday, 26 February 2018

Avoda Zara 42: Forbidden Items, Disposing of Found Idols

We are introduced to an example of possibly forbidden things focused on a miscarriage.  The rabbis speak of a case where a slave miscarries and drops the miscarriage into a pit where rats or muskrats might have taken it away.  The rabbis wonder if it was not a miscarriage but a fetal sac that was discarded.*

The rabbis discuss protocols when one finds a part of an idol.  While even part of an idol could be worshipped, does that require the base of the idol to be found as well?  If a Gentile punches it in the face, we can assume that s/he is renouncing the idol.  Nor so for a Jew, for Gentiles might believe the the idol chose not to defend itself.  Disposing an idol requires that we grind it up and throw it into the sea.**

The rabbis discuss idols that come in the form of trees, as well.  And we are not to take eggs from a nest that is sitting in a forbidden tree.  That would be benefitting from possible idolatry.  The rabbis ask many questions about found items and their potential connections with idolatry, from twigs taken from other trees to a nest built in a forbidden tree to finding an image of the sun or the moon and throwing it into the sea.  

It is clear that the rabbis are attempting to draw a line between being hospital, open, welcoming and being fiercely and stringently loyal to our one G-d.  

*Although this is not the discussion at hand, what would a slave be expected to do if she miscarried?  It might be impossible for her to bury the fetus and/or the placenta.

** Such an extreme reaction would suggest that the Jews found these idols threatening on some level. 

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