Friday, 30 March 2018

Avodah Zara 73: Relative Amounts of Liquid Required to Forbid

Unfortunately, today's blog was written and then accidentally erased before it was posted.

Because it is ere Pesach tonight, there is no more time to blog on the Talmud.  However, I can share the basic outline of today's daf.  A new mishna told us that if we pour grape products into a vat of wine, the wine is kosher as long as the grape products are less than 1/7 th of the entire mixture.  Less than that and the wine cannot be consumed.  

The notion of one type of food - differentiating itself form other types of food by substance, ritual status, etc. - affecting the status of another type of food speaks to a foreign perspective.  How can one thing be poisoned or ruined by another?  How can some things carry more sanctity than others?  As I have written earlier, sometimes it seems as though we are studying the transfer of cooties.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Avodah Zara 72: Acquiring and Pouring Wine; Connecting Objects through Streams of Liquid

Some brief notes on today's daf:

  • when does acquisition take place for a Gentile?
    • was the wine measured out before or after the money was exchanged?
    • where did the transaction take place?
    • who was participating and when? 
    • can people use wording carefully to renege on an agreed price?
    • must all of those who provide estimates agree on the final product?
  • A mishna states that if a Jew took a funnel and measured wine into a Gentile's flask and then into a Jew's flask, a drop of wine might stay in the funnel and thus the Jew's flask is forbidden. If one pours from one vessel into another, the wine left in the top vessel is permitted and that in the bottom vessel is forbidden
    • The Gemara quotes a mishna that teaches that a number of liquid transfers are permitted as they are not 'touching': nitzok, a stream of water falling through the air; tofe'ach, something wet enough to wet a hand that touches it; letamei, if the bottom is tamei and the top is tahor; letaher if the top is tamei and the bottom is tahor. 
    • ashboren, a collection of water, is considered to be connected and both letamei and letaher
    • the drop of liquid is forbidden because of nitzok - pouring into the Gentile's dirty vessel connected the funnel to drops of grape product at the bottom of the vessel
    • is the wine that is mid-air permitted or forbidden? The rabbis argue this point in detail
    • Rav Chisda teaches wine sellers to interrupt the flow or throw the wine from far to a Gentile's vessel so that a stream will never connect the vessels
    • Rava teaches people who pour wine to take no help from Gentiles because he might pour alone, leaving his wine forbidden to him
    • the rabbis discuss a case where wine was syphoned from a barrel using two connected reeds in an arc when a Gentile put his hand on the bottom and stopped the flow - Rava forbade all of the wine

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Avodah Zara 71: Buying/Selling Wine/Grape Products Between Jews and Gentiles

Today's daf focused on yayin nesech, wine products, and wine that is bought or sold between a Jew and a Gentile.  The rabbis note that contact with a Gentile or with a Gentile's wine or grape products might make the wine forbidden for drinking and/or for benefit.  Even the slight threat of using wine for idolatrous practices was to be avoided.  Thus we are introduced to a number of circumstances where the wine might be forbidden or permitted.

Unfortunately, today's blog was created and then accidentally erased, and so this entry is extremely truncated.  

Monday, 26 March 2018

Avodah Zara 70: When are Guards Trusted?

Some brief notes on today's daf:

  • cases describe whether wine might be permitted in a number of different contexts
    • when a Jew is with a Gentile prostitute, lust will cause him to neglect his guarding duties
    • when a Gentile is with a Jewish prostitute, she might be like them and allow them to stop guarding
    • if we can see barrels of wine through a crack in the door, we can only guard the barrels we can actually see
    • if wine is guarded in a house where the Jew on the second story and the Gentile on the first story and they argue outside and the Gentile returns, the wine is permitted because the Gentile assumes he would be seen if he touched the wine
    • A Gentile who has a reason to be near a house where wine is stored and he is there and not afraid, it is forbidden
    • If a Gentile is left alone with wine, it is forbidden
    • If a Jew and Gentile were drinking together when the Jew was called to pray, the wine is permitted because the Gentile is concerned that the Jew will remember the wine and return for it
    • If a Jew and Gentile drink together on a boat and they hear the shofar blast to announce Shabbat and the Jew goes ashore, the wine is permitted because the Gentile thinks the Jew will return, or because he thinks that the Jew won't observe Shabbat, the wine is permitted
    • Isar the Convert teaches the rabbis that Gentiles believed that Jews do not observe Shabbat because they would not want to lose profits on Shabbat
    •  Rabbi Yitzchak's law: if one found and took a wallet before Shabbat (there was no-one else to carry it), on shabbat he may carry it up to four amos at a time
    • If a Gentile hid in the winepress after hearing a lion roar, the wine is permitted - he assumes that Jews are hiding, too, and so he won't touch the wine
    • When thieves came to Pumbadita and Neharde'a and opened lots of barrels of wine, Rava permitted the wine because more than half of the population of each city was Jewish and so the thieves are assumed to be Jewish
    • If a person goes to a valley and is unsure whether he was in a field with ritual impurity, he is considered to be ritually pure
    • If he is not sure whether or not he touched the impurity, he is ritually impure
    • Some rabbis assert that Gentile thieves would not touch the wine because they opened the barrels to look for jewels and left the wine untouched
    • If a young Gentile woman was found with barrels of wine and foam was in her hand, the wine is permitted, says Rava, because the foam might have come from the outside of a barrel
    • when generals came to Neharde'a and Eretz Yisrael and opened many barrels of wine, the barrels are permitted and the rabbis offer a number of possible reasons for this
    • A Jewish woman who used to sell wine and gave keys to a Gentile guard, the rabbis agree that she only gave the keys to the Gentile thus she will not touch the wine
    • If a chaver, a Torah observant Jew, gives his keys to an ignorant person to guard, what is ritually pure stays ritually pure because there was no permission to touch anything 
    • The rabbis discuss the safe ritual status of ritually pure items belonging to a chaser who lives next to an ignoramus, divided by a fence with windows
    • In other circumstances, like if the houses were adjacent to each other, items might or might not be ritually pure
  • A new Mishna begins, teaching that if an army entered a city in peacetime, it is forbidden to leave barrels of wine open, but closed barrels are permitted.  Further, in wartime, all are permitted because there is not enough time to touch wine

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Avodah Zara 69: Drinks with a Mouse, Trusting Barrels of Wine with Gentile Guards

Today's daf continues a conversation about forbidden and permitted food and drink.  Specifically, they continue to discuss what should be permitted after a mouse falls into vinegar.  Is it permitted because the mouse disintegrated and thus a person would drink small pieces of mouse?  Or forbidden because a whole mouse would only affect the liquid immediately surrounding it and thus the drinker would not ingest the mouse at all?!  Although the mouse might have a strong taste, it is suggested that this case should not be more stringent than a case of terumah falling into chulin, non-sacred things.  In the end they determine that a mouse that has fallen into vinegar or wine forbids the liquid if it is more than one-sixtieth of the entire container, just like other halachot.

A new Mishna shares a number of teachings:
  • if a Gentile was travelling together with a Jew and barrels of wine, 
    • if the barrels are guarded when the Jew leaves, they are permitted
    • if the Jew told the Gentile that he would not return for enough time to break the plug or the lid, seal it, and dry it, the barrels are forbidden
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel says that the barrels are also forbidden if the Gentile has time to break the seal, remove the plug, replace it with a new plug and reseal it
  • If a Jew left a Gentile on a wagon/ship with barrels of wine and took a shortcut,
    • the wine is permitted even if the Jew entered the city and bathed in a bathhouse
    • the wine is forbidden if the Jew said he would not return in time to pierce, seal and dry the seal
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel says that it is forbidden if there is only time to open, seal and dry the opening
  • If a Jew left a Gentile in a store with barrels of wine, even if he goes in and out, the wine is permitted
    • If he told him that he would not return in time to pierce, seal and dry, the wine is forbidden
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel forbids it if there is only time to open, seal and dry
  • If a Jew ate with a Gentile and left flask of wine on the table and small table, the wine on the table is forbidden while the wine on the small table is permitted
  • If the Jew said, "dilute the wine and drink" then all of the wine is forbidden
  • Open barrels of wine in the house are forbidden Closed barrels are forbidden if he was away long enough to open, seal and dry
The remainder of today's daf is the start of the Gemara's conversation about this Mishna.  They define "guarded" barrels.  This leads them to a discussion about who the Gentile workers might be - how trustworthy they are and what they believe about the Jew's path, where the Jew actually goes, and whether there might be ways for the Jew to quickly return.  This is compared and contrasted with a baraita which describes how far a Jew would walk within 18 minutes to change the status of 'guarded' items.

The Gemara compares the examples of a Gentile in a store with the Gentile on a ship.  Each of these situations involves different risks, including whether or not there might be witnesses.  The rabbis wonder about whether the plug for the barrel is made of plaster or mud, which would take over a day to dry and turn white.   They consider whether or not a very small air hole might be large enough to siphon liquid from a barrel.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Avodah Zara 68: Blemishes that Improve Taste/ Beer, Mice and Seminal Emissions

The Gemara continues its discussion about blemishes. If something was blemished from the beginning, it is different than something that becomes blemished.  If forbidden wine or vinegar falls into food, that food is forbidden.  The rabbis wonder if that food was already forbidden because of a blemish.  It also makes a difference whether the wine or vinegar improve the taste of the food, which would make a person want to eat it.  

We learn about cases where a fermenting agent falls into dough, and where wine or vinegar falls onto lentils or grits.  The rabbis consider the temperature of the food (heated food is more susceptible to blemish), the order of things that have fallen into the food, and whether two incidents might join together.

The entirety of this discussion assumes that the reader understands rabbinical thinking regarding whether a sharp taste might somehow taint a food.  Further, the Gemara considers which substance fell into another, and which substance received the substance.  Each of these are affected by the rabbis' guidelines. 

Rabanan teaches that beer was forbidden when a mouse fell into that beer.  Does this mouse improve the taste of the beer?  Is it considered to be repulsive, though some kings serve mice (or perhaps squirrels)?  Is it metamei, ritually impure?  The rabbis remind us that some things are metamei only when they are moist.  When they are dry, they are permitted.  This leads the rabbis to discuss seminal emissions.  Isn't semen only ritually impure when it can be used to conceive; when it is moist?

The rabbis attempt to understand what their own Sages had thought regarding substances that were permitted, forbidden, and ritually impure.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Avodah Zara 66: Taste, Smell, and OCD

The rabbis debate the difficulty of distinguishing the taste of grapes from that of wine or grape juice.  Taste is subjective and difficult to measure.  Other difficulties are suggested as well.  The rabbis determine that although the two are similar, they should not "join to forbid".  

Moving forward, if only very slightly, the Gemara considers whether or not vinegar might change the status of the fruit it touches.  The rabbis wonder about smell how that sense might help us to determine whether or not a spilled liquid might change a grape from permitted to forbidden.  Could the smell of wine benefit one who is forbidden to benefit from the wine?  What if the smell is coming from vinegar and not wine?  If a person believes that the smell is wine, should that have any effect? The rabbis disagree about whether or not smell is the same as taste.

We learn that a Gentile could suck wine through a straw place through a hole in the cork of a wine barrel.  That wine would be permitted, for the Gentile did not actually touch the wine; he used a straw.  This is an interesting distinction compared with the stringencies that we see today.  If a Gentile used a straw, some of what s/he sucked through the straw would return to the barrel.  I cannot imagine someone who is Torah-observant feeling comfortable with that leniency.

I have always wondered about Judaism and obsessive compulsive disorder.  The continual, unrelenting focus on tiny distinctions between what is good and what is bad; what is forbidden and what is allowed.  People who are comfortable with that level of scrutiny might also be inclined toward OCD.  I wonder whether the rates of that particular condition are higher in Jews than in the general population.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Avodah Zara 65: Spilling Wine, Absorbing Wine

A very brief set of points on today's daf:
  • Gentiles who are about to convert, Jews who do not observe - who should be permitted to benefit from idolatry?  
  • The rabbis give us examples of proof that a Gentile is not worshipping idols, including statements about serving G-d as the only true king, and circumcision
  • We learn a number of cases where a Gentile is involved in renting, working, hiring, and journeying - each situation offers different reasons for concern 
A new Mishna:
  • if wine created for idolatry falls on grapes, the grapes are rinsed and then permitted
  • if the grapes were broken, they cannot be used
  • all but Rashbam say that if the wine falls on dates or figs, they are only forbidden if the wine leaves a taste
  • clarified: if the wine leaves a good taste, then they are forbidden
  • they are permitted if the wine leaves a bad taste
A thought: How do we know whether or not the wine leaves a taste unless we taste the fruit?  

More points:
  • The Gemara considers an extension of the Mishna with additional details
  • whether or not the food can absorb taste is the issue
  • wheat, for example, is said to always be 'broken', or able to absorb

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Avodah Zara 64: Idol Worship Vs. Worshipping G-d

Today's blog will not include any type of detailed review of the day's daf.  Instead, I offer a few words about the topic that is introduced and discussed today.  

A number of rabbis question each other about what should be done if a Gentile who is about to convert sells his or her idols.  Is s/he permitted to benefit from their sale?  The rabbis consider a number of issues, including the intention of the person about to convert and precisely when one might nullify the 'power' of the idols.

Idolatry is a bizarre idea in today's world; believing in idols seems foreign to many in the western world.  But looking closer at the concept of idolatry, we might ask what an idol is, in its essence.  It must be a thing or a discreet idea.  It must be thought to carry some sort of power, whether that is the capacity to change our physical world or to affect change in more subtle, internal ways.  It would have to be worshipped - and how does one worship? In past passages, we learn that people defected in front of some idols as a form of worship.  So prayer is not the only way to show our devotion.  Would time spent meditating near the idol count as 'worship'?  What about preoccupation with the idol?

If those last questions are answered honestly, we might agree that modern idols include computers, phones, televisions and mirrors.  We are enveloped in a society that prostrates itself to technological tools and self-devotion.  What if we were not permitted to benefit from the sale of our cell phones? our computers? our self-indulgent thoughts?

Perhaps we participate in idolatry when we attach ourselves to our ideas of the 'self' and the 'other.  Perhaps all there is is G-d everywhere - in every being and every creation.  If we see G-d in all people, we might truly distance ourselves from idolatry.  

Monday, 19 March 2018

Avodah Zara 63:Timing of Payment and Using Credit

Some brief points from today's daf:

  • any payment made to a prostitute, even if it is an animal, becomes forbidden once they have intercourse
  • the rabbis argue about about when payment might be made, what might be used as payment, what might have been said regarding payment, etc.
  • when a person gives a dinar to another, and they spend it themselves, the rabbis are concerned about what might be bought with the dinar:
    • tevel without tithing
    • forbidden wine
    • shemita, Sabbatical year money which cannot buy more than three meals
  • normal patterns of selling are meaningful, for example a grocer who usually sells to a person on credit; it is as if the grocer receives the dinar immediately
  • this is compared with one who buys property using credit

Avodah Zara 62: Leniencies and Stringencies in Comparable Cases

A new Mishna frames Perek IV, our new perek.  It teaches that a Jew is prohibited from benefiting from labour done with wine for the libations of an idolatrous Gentile.  If the Jew was hired to do other work for this Gentile and the Jew was asked to move a barrel of wine – even if it is intended for idol worship – as one of many duties, then payment is allowed.  Similarly, if a Gentile rents a Jew’s donkey to carry wine that is to be used for libations, payment is forbidden.  However, if the Gentile rented the donkey just to transport himself and he happens to be carrying a jug of wine, the rental payment is permitted.

The rabbis analyze this Mishna according to other cases where the halacha is sometimes lenient regarding benefiting from payment.  The first case is that of orla, the forbidden first three years of a tree’s produce, produce being accepted as a symbol of betrothal.  The betrothal proves that one may benefit from the otherwise forbidden use of orla (Kidushin 56b).  The second case involves transferring the status of forbidden Sabbatical Year produce to the money with which it might have been exchanged.  If an owner offers a labourer a fee for collecting shemita, then payment is made for the labour itself and not for the Sabbatical produce. 

The Gemara stays with this second example for some time.  The rabbis debate how one might gather or otherwise use Sabbatical produce without transgressing the halacha of not using it for commerce.  They also note that the stringency regarding wine used for libations is extremely high; quite different from other circumstances. 

The obligations regarding idolatry are compared with those regarding capital punishment.  The rock that is used to stone a person, the tree that is used to hang a person, the sword used to kill a person, and the scarf that is used to strangle a person – all of these things are buried along with the person.  This is done to ensure that we do not benefit from those items.

The last example is particularly interesting.  The rabbis discuss whether or not we might benefit from direct or indirect payment made to a prostitute.  Mostly the rabbis discuss time in relation to payment.  If a man pays a woman for sex but does not actually have intercourse with her – yet- how do we understand his payment?  What if he has intercourse with her but delays payment?   This learning leads to questions about who was visiting prostitutes, who became prostitutes, how secret or known was the practice, how much stigma existed regarding this practice, and much more.  The example is used to help elucidate our understandings of what should be associated with idol worship and thus what is forbidden to us.  In its discussion, we are reminded about other parts of life that were regulated by our rabbis.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Avodah Zara 61: How Close Can We Get to Those Who Practice Idolatry?

Yesterday's daf focused on when we can benefit from - or drink, in some cases - something touched by an idolater in different scenarios.  Today's daf offers us a new Mishna with new information: The Jew who claims that a Gentile's wine is permitted -because he treaded on the grapes himself - may store the wine in the Gentile's domain in a house open to a public thoroughfare until it is sold.  If this happens in a city with Gentiles and Jews living together, the wine is permitted (the Gentile will not touch the wine, knowing that Jews might see this and declare the wine forbidden).  If this happens in a town of all Gentiles, the Jew must sit and safeguard the wine or else the wine is forbidden.

The Watchman is not required to sit and guard the wine; even if he leaves and returns many times, the wine is permitted.  Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar say that the domain of Gentiles is all one.  

When the Jew who renders the wine of a Gentile permitted by treading on the grapes himself so that the wine can be sold to Jews and then puts the wine in the Gentile's domain until it is sold, the halacha is different.  If the Gentile writes for the Jew that he received money from him as payment for the wine, even if he did not yet receive payment, then the wine is permitted.  If the Jew wants to remove the wine and the Gentile does not allow it until the Jew gives him the money owed, the wine is deemed forbidden.  The Gentile believes that a lien has been placed on the wine and thus he might touch it and cause it to be forbidden.  This last example is based on a case in Beit She'an. 

The Gemara explores what is meant by a "Gentile city".  They compare what is forbidden in similar cases - one where a palm tree's top is cut off, another where a Jew buys or rents a house where he stores barrels of wine in a Gentile's courtyard.  

The Gemara continues with questions about whether or not it matters who holds a key or a seal to the barrels of wine. And a watchman would have to visit without a schedule so that he would witness the true behaviour of the Gentile with the wine.  Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar's words in our Mishna might refer to the Gentiles being as one because they will collude with each other.  The rabbis argue whether Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar is stringent or lenient in his rulings.  They note that people might collude with each other if one has more power than the other, for example, a person might cover up for a vizier.

The very end of today's daf is also the end of Perek III.  We learn that if a Gentile is found alone with many barrels of wine, if he is tried as a thief, all of the wine is permitted.  Why?  Because in his haste to steal, there is no way that he would have time to make libations with that wine, and thus it has not been sullied.  

This final point is critical.  It is easy to forget that we are supposed to be learning about idolatry.  Most of our learning has been about contact with wine.  However, the larger questions are about idolatry.  Jews have always lived together with Gentiles; with people who worship idols.  That foundational difference was emphasized by focusing on halachic rules about contact.  We know that we don't believe in the powers of idols. But how closely are we permitted to associate ourselves with this different set of beliefs?  Can we be best friends with idolaters?  Can we share our meals?  Our homes? As the Jewish community continues to struggle with 'continuity', we should remember that isolating ourselves was never the solution of the rabbis.  We were and we are forced to live together across our differences.  

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Avodah Zara 59: Transfer Through Still Water

Today's daf offers another extension of the rabbis thoughts regarding the transfer of impurity through the touch of an idolater.  

We are told that a Gentile bowed to water and Jews drank from that water, which was subsequently forbidden.  But can public water be forbidden?  If the water was private, could it be forbidden? Was the water attached to the ground?  How did the Gentile behave near the water?  What if the Gentile put his hand into the water?  

The rabbis ask whether or not a Gentile is permitted to help a Jew carry grapes.  They also ask whether a Gentile who puts his hand into a Jew's wine to retrieve an etrog that fell into the vat.  Rav Ashi teaches that his hand should be held still so that the wine does not move.  He says that we should drain the wine from beneath the Gentile's hand, allowing that liquid that has not been touched to be permitted.  

It's this kind of logic that encourages me to see the rabbis as full participants in the thinking of their time and place.  The notion that water is still; that we could avoid water that has touched a person's immersed hand, seems almost ridiculous today.  However, in that time, it was reasonable to assume that water was a "block".

Avodah Zara 58: Rava's Rulings; Interacting with Gentiles

Rav Huna son of Chinena made a ruling that contradicted Rava's ruling regarding the viability of wine that was touched by a Gentile.  In today's daf we are told the story of what happened when Rav Huna son of Chinena came to Rava's town.

Rava learned of this visit and ordered the doors to his town closed.  Eventually, he allowed Rav Huna to enter and speak with him.  Rav Huna son of Chinena said that Rava was contradicting his own earlier ruling.  Rava tried to defend himself by suggesting that his ruling applied only to the remaining liquid and not all of the wine.  Part of the profits would be thrown away.  Rava rescinded this decision.  Different versions of this story are shared.

Another case describes a Gentile who put his hand into a barrel of wine thinking that it was oil.  The rabbis debate whether that wine is permitted for drinking or for libations.  Similar cases, like that of a Gentile who tastes a spoon that is returned to the barrel are debated as well.  In this case, the rabbis focus on the man's intention.  

Why are the rabbis so concerned with the minutiae of these bizarre cases?  My thinking is that the rabbis are not actually concerned with the law regarding purity and impurity.  Instead they are helping us understand how we should consider our interactions with other peoples.   Even small interactions are not mundane.  We should think through the ways that we present ourselves to others and how we receive from others as well.  Idolatry is one of the most serious transgressions.  When these actions are discussed within the context of avodah zara, the importance of each interaction is heightened for us.


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Avodah Zara 57: Permitting Touched Wine for Libations, for Drinking

Today's daf is a detailed exploration of who may drink from wine touched by a Gentile and who may use that wine for libations.  For each different category of person, the rabbis consider the possible outcomes.  The people mentioned include Gentiles, Gentile minors (those who do not understand idolatry), Gentile infants (those who have not been exposed to idolatry), Jewish slaves, Jewish maidservants, Gentile slaves, Gentile  maidservants, the sons of Gentile slaves and the sons of Gentile maidservants.  The acts include touching wine intentionally, touching wine unintentionally, touching wine with a hand, touching wine with a foot, touching wine with something else (a robe or a stick).  

Sometimes, the wine is permitted for libations and for drinking.  In other cases, the wine is only permitted for libations.  Rav holds lenient responses and Rav Chuna is more stringent regarding this issues. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Avodah Zara 56: When Do We Tithe Wine?, Hands or Feet

The rabbis begin today's daf with their conversation about when exactly one should tithe in the process of making wine.  If the hands of a Gentile touch the grape product before this time, perhaps the wine can still be used for libation.  We learn that the rabbis were particularly stringent about consecrating wine.  The rabbis speak of the wicker basket that was used to strain through the wine and grape product left after most of the wine had fallen through to the collection vat.

In their discussion, the rabbis note that there was a six year-old boy who learned this very tractate, Masechet Avodah Zara.  The child was asked whether or not a Jew could benefit from his work together with a Gentile, treading on grapes at a particular time.  The child said that this was permitted in accordance with the Mishna.  He explained the contradiction regarding the forbidden touch of a Gentile by noting that the touch of a Gentile's foot is different from the the touch of his hand. 

Today's daf ends with the beginning of another case example.  Here we learn that a Jew and Gentile trod on wine together.  Shmuel delayed his ruling on whether or not the Jew was permitted to benefit from his wages.  Tomorrow's daf begins with the his reasoning behind waiting for so long to rule on this case.

Avodah Zara 55: G-d's Jealousy, Benefitting from Other's Foolishness

Why isn’t G-d jealous of idols?  Another parable is used to explain this concept: When a man takes a second wife, his first wife is only jealous if the second wife is less distinguished that she.  She is not jealous of a second wife who is more distinguished than she, and she is not angry at her husband.

The Gemara asks why people come back from idol worship with their bodies healed.  Two parables are offered to explain this occurrence.  One man was trusted by everyone to hold their belongings without proper witnesses present.  One man did not trust him and brought witnesses to his transaction.  Later he did not require witnesses for a second agreement.  His wife suggested that they make demands.  The man replied that he should not benefit from this trusted man’s foolishness.

A new Mishna teaches that we are permitted to buy a winepress from a Gentile even though the grapes have gone through the machine and the Gentile’s hands touched the grapes in the winepress and puts them into the vat to be trodden upon.   The grape juice only takes on the status of ‘wine’ once it is in the vat.  Only that wine is prohibited.  Stepping on the grapes together with Gentiles is permitted.  Harvesting is not permitted by some of the rabbis.  It is permitted by Rav Huna.   Similarly, a baker who is in a state of ritual impurity cannot knead or arrange bread, and others are not permitted to do so beside him.  However, it is permitted to carry the bread with him to the bread seller.

The Gemara takes note the details of winemaking and the reasons that rabbis belive that wine or juice might be permitted at different points in the process.  They quote a baraita that reinterprets a mnemonic so that it reflects a more stringent ruling.  That means that a Jew who is paid to tread on grapes with a Gentile is benefitting from a prohibited action.

Avodah Zara 54: Idols as symbols; G-d's Option to Destroy Idols

Some ideas that are discussed in today’s daf:
  •    If an animal is worshiped because of coercion, what are the repercussions?
  •    None – just like the betrothed maiden who is raped is not punished further
  •   “You shall not bow down to them nor shall you worship them” – is this intended to include coercion? Those words are followed by “You shall not profane my holy name”, suggesting that the Sages were speaking of coercion and of a public display of idol worship
  •    If one worships an idol in privacy, the “idol” is not forbidden
  •    The rabbis discuss the necessity of a kosher shemitah if that animal was worshiped privately (forced)
  •    How do the rabbis determine whether such an item is excluded if it is the exchange of an exchange of an item that was worshipped?
  •    Two verses that come as one  - teaching the same principal – do not dictate halacha to other similar cases
  •    Consecrated items exchanged for money do not transfer their status and the money is not sanctified

A new Mishna asks why G-d does not destroy objects of worship.  The rabbis answer: people worship the sun, moon and stars.  Should G-d destroy those objects and also destroy his entire world?  Of course not.  So why, ask the rabbis, does G-d not destroy only those items that are not required by our world?  The answer is equally simple: because those who worship nature would use this as proof of their belief.  Their idols were not destroyed, and thus they must be valuable.

The Gemara discusses the liability of those who are “fools” and worship idols.  How can they have multiple pregnancies, which seem to be a sign of G-d’s favour?  They will be punished later, the rabbis surmise.

Why doesn’t G-d punish the idols? A parable is used to explain the G-d’s reasoning.  A king had a son who named his dog after his father.  When he swore, he would swear on the life of his dog, the king.  The king was angry with the son and not the dog.  The son has the ability to choose whom to worship; the idol/dog do not have this ability.