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.