Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Avodah Zara 51: Near/On Idols, Decorating Idols, People Who Worship Idols

Some brief notes about today's daf:

  • the rabbis continue their conversation about found items that might have been signs of idolatry and whether those things are permitted or forbidden
  • slaughtered grasshoppers, broken sticks, thrown stones are discussed at length
  • we are reminded of some of the halachot regarding the Temple, like the required state of an animal that is consecrated (intact limbs, able to reproduce, etc.)
  • other details about offerings are discussed and repeated
A mishna teaches that if clothing, coins or kelim, vessels, were found near idols, they are permitted.  If clusters of grapes, ears of grain, wine, oil, or fine flour were found, they are forbidden.
  • The Gemara considers what might be on the idol and what might be near the idol
  • Examples include garments, gold, silver, stray coins, whatever is behind a curtain
  • bags of coins are permitted
Another new Mishna teaches that if there is a bathhouse or a garden dedicated to idolatry, we may benefit from it only if we do not give benefit.  This means that if it belongs to worshippers, we may benefit and they may give or not give benefit.  A Gentile's worship of an idol is forbidden immediately.  A Yisrael's worship is only forbidden once the idol is actually worshipped. 
  • the rabbis consider which people we can support - priests of idolatry? Commoners who worship idols?  
  • the mishna might be referring to vessels that are prepared for use in idolatry but they have not yet been used 
The rabbis are clearly looking to balance the need for people to work with Gentile communities while keeping halachot based on biblical direction.

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