Daddy, you'd better be super proud of me. Since I know there's no way I can study over this weekend, I'm doing this now, almost a week in advance. I love you!
THIS IS A CLASS TAUGHT BY RABBI KENNETH AUMAN. ALL SOURCES AND EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED BY HIM. ANYTHING THAT SEEMS ODD, OFF, MISQUOTED OR MISTAKEN IS MY FAULT. PAGE NUMBERS ARE REFERENCES TO A PACKET I HAVE THAT I MAY SCAN LATER (IF I'M NOT TOO TIRED.)
Modern Problems connected with Avodah Zara
Rabbi Kenneth Auman
page 5- V'sheim elohim acheirim lo tazkiru is a quote of a verse in Shemot 23. Literally, you should not mention the names of other gods. Even to say something as innocuous as "Wait for me by the statue of Jupiter"- you shouldn't even do that! Lo yishama al picha-It should not be heard on your mouth. You should not take a neder in the name of the avodah zara or swear by it and you shouldn't cause other people to do it, either.
Now, how did we get that- how did we get that you shouldn't cause other people to do it either? Where did we get that in this verse? Could be the words "lo yishama al picha" as in, because of your mouth, because of what you said.
[Lifnei Iver on a d'oraita level only applies if the person couldn't do the sin without you- "pass me the ham sandwich"- you don't violate a lifnei iver if you pass it because they could get it anyway. It's different if the room is locked and I open the door for them to let them into the room to get the ham sandwich- then I am liable on lifnei iver according to the Torah.]
Most probably because of repetition of these words- if you wanted to look this up somewhere, you should check out the Torah Temimah. Often he'll tell you how the Gemara derived this. Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein wrote the Torah TEmimah. The Aruch HaShulchan was his father. R' Epstein was a businessman, not a professional Rebbe; he wrote the Mekor Baruch; his section on Volozhin is the banned Artscroll book My Uncle, the Netziv.
V'lo yigrom l'acheirim...
This baraisa support's a statement by Shmuel's father. This being:
Assur l'adam she'yaaseh shitfus im ha'oveid kochavim.
You can't have a business partnership with an idolater- because he won't swear he didn't take more than he should in the name of God but rather in the name of the gods or his idolatry. So apparently even by the gentiles- shouldn't case the name of avodah zara to be mentioned.
[Lifnei Iver, by the way, applies to non-Jews. For the mitzvot they are obligated on, that is.]
So Shmuel's father made a siyag- a Rabbinic prohibition- so you won't come to violate a Torah prohibition.
page 8- Lifnei (is first word of the masechta; printer put it in a box. Every masechta starts on the second side because the printer did it that way, because alef was the title page. The printer wasn't even Jewish. Incidentally, Daniel Bomberg printed the first full shas. It was good business. Either priests or Jews knew how to read in those days. So this was all designed by a non-Jew.)
This is a mishna- beginning of Avodah Zara. Three days before holidays of idolaters you can't do business with them/ lend or borrow money from them. Why not?
Rashi: They'll go praise their God because they had such a good business deal- what Gemara says. Azil u'modeh- they'll thank their Gods.
The second view in the Gemara is that this only applies to something they might use in sacrifices for their gods/ money that they might use to buy sacrifices (which means you'd have violated lifnei iver.) So there's a machlokes in the Gemara.
Tosfos: P"H means peirush ha'kuntres- this means Rashi. "The Notebook"= Rashi. He's going to go on his holiday and thank his God. But then even regular business with idolaters should be forbidden! Because any business, the idolaters will go and thank their gods. (That's how Rashi seems to understand it.) So how come in the world- everyone today does business with idolaters today? (This is relatively rare- that Tosfos brings an argument from reality.) Rashi's understanding seems glaringly at odds with actual practice.
Granted, most of their holidays are by the kadshin- saints.
Quotes Gemara in Hullin saying idolaters who don't live in Israel are not really idolaters because they only do it since it's the custom of their fathers. Since they're idolaters in milder form, it's only assur to do business with them the day before a holiday for them.
Tosfos comes up with a heter known as eivah. Eivah means enmity. So if a Jew refuses to sell to idolaters it will cause hatred/ enmity/ eivah. Now eivah is mattir on a prohibition that is d'rabanan (rabbinical in nature.)
[Lineage of Rabbi Yehuda Ha'Nasi. Hillel- Shimon- R' Gamliel HaKohen- R' Shimon B"G- R' Gamliel Dibnah- R' Shimon B"G- R' Yehuda Ha'Nasi.]
So Rabbi Yehuda Ha'Nasi was given this new coin minted by the emperor. He received it as a gift from a pagan on his holiday. Rabbi Yehuda Ha'Nasi said, "What should I do? If I don't take it, he's going to hate me!" So you see there is a heter due to eivah.
If the reason is eivah, then we'll understand lending them money/ other items/ paying back money you owe them. Why is there eivah? Couldn't Jews take a day off and say they don't want to do business that day?
Now, we know that they don't really worship avodah zara. Is Tosfos saying that Christianity isn't avodah zara? Possibly. So we know about them that they don't serve avodah zara.
Rabbi Yehuda sent a present (here korban means present) to non-Jew Aviderna on his holiday. You would think that's a violation! R' Yehuda said that he knew Aviderna's not really an idol-worshipper so you can do business with him and the rule doesn't apply. Same story by Rava. So we've got:
2. Gentiles who don't really worship avodah zara
Now, there's a statement in the Yerushalmi (Jerusalem or Palestinian Talmud. It was written in Israel during the same time Talmud Bavli was written.) So there's something in the Yerushalmi on this mishna here. So when does this apply? Only with a non-Jew you don't know. But with non-Jews who you know, similar to the idea of eivah, you know them and need to get on with them. Yerushalmi says if you know them, you can do business with them.
(Chanifa- insincere flattery. You are, incidentally, allowed to flatter a rasha.)
Rabeinu Tam says the only issur is to sell them things they could actually use to sacrifice (like animals) so it has nothing to do with buying things from them.
Two possibilities according to Tosfos/ Rabbeinu Tam:
1. Christianity is avodah zara (it's okay anyway)
2. Christianity isn't avodah zara
page 5- This Gemara is about not having partnerships between non-Jews (and Jews.) Look at Tosfos here:
Assur l'adam she'yaaseh shitfus-
Certainly a real shvuah you can't allow them to swear. Rabbeinu Tam says you care permitted to accept a shvuah rather than lose (There's another place where you're allowed to collect money from a non-Jew within three days.)
1. They swear in the names of the saints (so not actually avodah zara/ gods)
2. Even if they say "God" (no matter what they are actually thinking when they say the word "God,") they mean the God of the universe
page 29- This is a page of the standard edition of the Shulchan Aruch.
[You know it's not the Tur because the commentaries aren't the Beis Yosef and the Bach- which they would be if this was the Tur. Who wrote the Tur? R' Yaakov ben Ha'Rush. When did he live? 1300s (14th century). And what country did the Tur live in? They fled from Germany sometime in 1290s because Germany wasn't a hospitable place for Jews. Rush was a student of the Maharam of Rutenberg.
Students of the Maharam of Rutenberg- know this cold for the test!
1. The Mordechai
2. The Ha'Gaos Ma'moniyos
What did the Mordechai write? A book called the Mordechai- a collection of halachos on the back of every masechta. Who did the Rush model his sefer of halakhos after? The Rif- R' Yitzchak Alfasi- wrote the first comprehensive halakhic code, masechta by masechta. Rush followed his style. Rif left out whatever wasn't relevant to his time. When did the Rif live? Same time as Rashi. Rashi was born in 1040 and died in 1103 or 1105. One of the ironies of history is that Rashi and the Rif never knew each other. The Rif was born in North Africa in Fez in Morocco, moved to Spain- Rashi lived in Northern France in Troyes. Within 100 years after Rashi's death, commentary had pretty much reached the entire world.
Rashi- who were the students and descendants of Rashi?
1. Rabbeinu Tam- Name was Yaakov.
2. His older brother was R' Shmuel, known as the Rashbam. These two are the most prominent.
The Maharam of Rutenberg represents the end of the period of the Ba'alei HaTosfos.
The Rush's son, R' Yaakov, wrote the Tur, which was revolutionary because he created a code of Jewish Law organized by categories (four) and within each category, everything is arranged in a user-friendly kind of way. Very first halakha is- what do you do when you get up in the morning?
He was not the first to make a code according to the masechtas- Rambam did- Rambam put them in conceptual order- the first halakha in Yad Chazaka is "y'sod ha'ysodos." Namely, that you need to know there's a Creator (a prime cause) and you can't believe in avodah zara, etc.
Every given cheilek, Rambam tells you basic halakhot. Finding things is much easier in the Tur.
That's why when R' Yosef Kairo decided to write the Shulchan Aruch, he wrote based on the Tur so that it would be user-friendly. The Shulchan Aruch was written in the early 1500s.
What's interesting about the Rambam's layout is that you can sometimes tell how he understood halakha based on what he said.
What did R' Yosef Kairo use as a basis for the Shulchan Aruch? The Beis Yosef- which was his commentary on the Tur. Want to understand something, then you look at the Rama (R' Moshe Isserles.) He wrote the Ashkenaz additions to the Shulchan Aruch. Darchei Moshe is his commentary on the Tur.]
Shulchan Aruch is discussing this and the Rama has a bit of a caveat.
They are talking about selling incense to non-Jews. It says that you can't sell it to priests because they'll use it to serve their gods. But you can sell it to regular people because it is probably not designated for gods (it's like selling pots and pans to someone even though they might use them to cook on Shabbos.) So the Rama says you can sell them if you're not selling to priests.
Question: When are you not permitted to sell them things they may use in worship?
Only if the people in question didn't have other things like them- if they could buy this item anywhere else, then you are permitted to sell it to them (he quotes from the Mordechai.) Lifnei Iver only counts if they can't do it by themselves- the Gemara has a term for this- Trei Ivri Dinhara versus Chad Ivra Dinhara. Two sides of the river or one side of the river.
You only violate lifnei iver if it is Trei Ivrei Dinhara. If I have the only crucifix store in town and if I don't sell it to them, they can't worship, I am forbidden to sell it to them. This is as opposed to a case where there are plenty of crucifix stores, in which case you can sell the crucifixes.
One problem: Many Rishonim are of the opinion that Chad Ivra Dinhara, while you're not doing lifnei iver, you still are rabbinically not supposed to do this because of:
M'sayea y'dei ovrei aveirah
It's like you are endorsing this, saying it's okay- and that's not right!
Rama concludes "Kol ba'al nefesh yachmor l'atzmo." It's proper to be yachmir. That being said, Jews do lots of religious item selling- it's a very Jewish business.
The Rama seems to present two views as to whether they could sell items (assuming they are available otherwise.)
Comes the Shach with a major comment. The Shach (Sifsei Kohen is the name of his sefer- his name was Shabtai Kohen.) The Shach had tremendous knowledge and often disagrees with the m'chabeir and the Rama in the Shulchan Aruch.
The first line is important for our purposes. The Shach starts off by quoting the Darchei Moshe- in those days, we're meikil (lenient) l'hishtatef imahem. So why are we meikil to have partnerships with non-Jews?
It's based on Rabbeinu Tam (that Tosfos that is confusing.) So Rama says we are meikil to do business just like we are meikil to have partnerships with them. What does one have to do with the other?
The Shach is understanding Rabbeinu Tam as not only talking about swearing (shvua) but about the entire system of Christianity when he suggested it isn't really avodah zara because it has a real belief in God- therefore it's not real avodah zara. No issur to sell them items they'd use for avodah zara because it's not real avodah zara anyway.
page 30- This is the Shulchan Aruch, but it's Choshen Mishpat. Different commentaries- Shach is the same. Who are the standard commentaries in Orach Chaim? Taz and Magen Avraham. Yoreh De'ah is Taz and Shach. Choshen Mishpat is Shach and Sema (Sefer Meiras Eynayim. The author is R' Yehoshua Falk, also author of Derisha u'Perisha, which is on the Tur.) On Even Ha'Ezer you have the Chalakas Mechokek and the Beis Shmuel.
Now, the Shulchan Aruch here is talking about some very sensitive ideas. Ovdei avodah zara whose life is in danger- not supposed to save them (this is not a politically correct/ safe thing to say.) Look at Be'er Ha'Golah now. That is something that generally gives you sources for everything the Shulchan Aruch says- here he actually makes a comment.
Be'er Ha'Golah says that anytime says something bad about gentiles, this doesn't apply to the gentiles nowadays. In Christianity, after all, they believe in God and in His creating the world. (It seems like this was written for public consumptions; it reads like an exercise in apologetics- can't necessarily take it at face value.)
page 31- Actually have the Rama (xerox of Mishna Berurah) that the Shach was quoting earlier.
page 3- This is Sanhedrin 56. The Gemara here is talking about the issur of avodah zara for gentiles. And it says like this: Anything that Jews are chayav on, non-Jews are also not allowed to do. But anything a Beis Din wouldn't give a Jew death for, a ben Noach is not muzhar (not assur for him to do these things.) So equation between gentiles and Jews for avodah zara.
page 4- Sanhedrin 63. R' Yochanan says "If not for the vav in the word he'elucha, the enemies of the Jewish people deserve to be killed." This is a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves; he doesn't want to say that so he says "enemies of the Jewish people."
Talking about quote, "he'elucha" referring to "The gods took us out" (by the golden calf, when the Jews were saying, "These are your gods, O'Israel...")
If they had said "he'elicha" the Jews would have deserved to die (for then they would have meant just the golden calf.) But since they said "he'elucha" (plural) at least they included God in the equation (God + the calf) so they squeaked by.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says, "What are you talking about?! If you join God with an avodah zara, you are uprooted from the world! That's terrible! That wouldn't save them from death! As it says, "Bilti Hashem l'vado"- only worship God alone! God coupled with avodah zara is terrible!"
Others say "he'elucha" is not coming to include God but other gods.
Okay, now see the little beis on the side of the sheet- see Ayin Mishpat/ Neir Mitzvah. Quoted in the Rambam and Segag and not in Tur and Shulchan Aruch. Won't be quoted by Tur because the Tur doesn't quote halakhot we don't observe today. (And we don't kill people today- no capital punishment.) Look this up in the Rambam.
Rabbeinu Tam says we're allowed to have business partnerships with non-Jews and Rama said any form of avodah zara done b'shituf isn't really avodah zara. But now we have these Gemaras saying anything that is assur for Bnei Yisrael is muzhar for non-Jews! So we have a problem!
page 32- This is the Nodah B'Yehuda. Who wrote this? R' Yechezkel Landau who lived in Prague. He lived around the late 1700s- early 1800s. In response to a question that was asked him, he writes:
This person writing tied one string to another- this person is building castles in the air! Where did he get this idea that gentiles are not assur for shituf? It's a common thing that chachamim think nachrim are not chayav on shituf- write this in introduction to midrashim [this is done as a disclaimer. Be'er Ha'Golah did exactly that kind of thing.] But I looked very hard and I couldn't find it- I looked all over Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi and there is no such place! [This is a very bold statement.] Nor in any of the gedolei Rishonim that gentiles are not muzhar on shituf! [So now we are confused- what about the Rabbeinu Tam we learned?] And if this is truth, it should be in hilchos melachim of Rambam [that's where the Rambam writes things having to do with Benei Noach.] But what the Rambam wrote for Jews, what Jews have to tell non-Jews or make non-Jews do! And why didn't the Rambam write it's muttar for non-Jews to engage in shittuf if it is?
If there's an equation between avodah zara for Jews and non-Jews [like we just saw in Sanhedrin 56) then it appears to me that it's a mistake [he means that the idea that non-Jews are not chayav on shituf is a mistake.] Why? What's the mistake from? They misinterpreted Rabbeinu Tam. You're not allowed to have business partnerships with a non-Jew unless he swears, etc (that whole topic) and Tosfos writes that they only swear in the name of their saints. Saw in Rama. And this lashon fooled some of the chachamim- Rama's language misled them. What's the mistake in the way that people understood the Rama and Rabbeinu Tam? They misunderstood as being the actual avodah while Rama and Rabbeinu Tam were merely talking about shvua. No issur for a non-Jew to swear in the name of God and something else together. But avodah?! To worship? If worshipping God + something else (an idol), chayav misah so that is a problem!
So the Nodah B'Yehudah makes a firm distinction between shvua and avodah.
page 28- Pischei Teshuva Yoreh De'ah- [Summarizes the Nodah B'Yehudah and cites others who also think that it's a mistake to think that worship b'shituf is muttar for non-Jews] And according to my opinion, what they say is right, but you can't say that the Rama agrees with it because he says the opposite in Darchei Moshe.
page 33- R' Yosef Eliyahu Henkin (Leiv Ivra)- The reason for the negative attitude toward the gentiles is because of all the stuff they did to us over the years. But when they follow just laws and have equality for everyone, we have to treat them and their property properly too. When Chazal speak badly about them, it's because they didn't want people to take revenge against the gentiles and would rather they vent in speech than action and say that Hashem would take care of it, so that we wouldn't have to. But the non-Jews today are not included as ovdei avodah zara and the poskim explained (holding by the Rama, Shach, etc) people today shouldn't be critical of Israel because we shouldn't give the non-Jews reason to hate us.
page 35- Meiri in Avodah Zarah- It seems that the Gemara is only referring to people who worship real idols, but not today's people because they don't worship real idols, so we may do business with them [seems to imply that the issur of avodah zara is only about statues- if it's intangible, it isn't avodah zarah- but this is brief and not totally clear.]
page 36- Mishna in Bava Kama- If an ox owned by a Jew gores an ox owned by a non-Jew, you don't have to pay damages. But if vice versa, he does have to pay full damges. [This was knowing as a very discriminatory halakha.]
Meiri in Bava Kama- The reason why we fine them is because they don't care about anyone's property but their own- it's a punishment and it is only for the nations not bound by religion and proper behavior. Once they observe the 7 mitzvot, we have to treat them as equals in this regard. This certainly applies to non-Jews bound by religion and behavior. [Did not consider non-Jews of his time to be ovdei avodah zarah.]
page 21- Chesronos Ha'Shas- Removed by censors over the years and then put in again. Comes from masechtas Avodah Zarah- corrected based on old prints and works of scholars. From the Rambam's "Peirush HaMishnayos" in Chapter 1, Mishna 3.
These Christians go after Jesus- all the different types of Christianity are all considered ovdei avodah zara and for all of them- their holidays are assur. Rambam quite explicit that Christianity is avodah zara. (Most people didn't see this source- the Nodah B'Yehuda didn't see this.) Neither the Meiri nor the Rambam were accessible to most people.
The Meiri and the Rambam are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Rabbeinu Tam is on either side of the Meiri or Rambam depending on how he is interpreted (pivot in the middle.)
page 34- The Chazon Ish- In Sanhedrin, Tosfos on the words "Assur"- sheim avodah zarah. Is assur to say the name of an avodah zarah/ idol (such as Molech, Ba'al Pe'or)- something that refers to a specific term. (Difference between proper noun and common noun. Proper name of an avodah zara it is forbidden to say. But to just refer to a statue by a generic term, such as elohim- gold, lord- is not assur to mention that name, even if the non-Jew uses it to mean his God (not Hashem.) If he says swearing in the name of my god but doesn't specifically mention Pe'or (or the proper name of an idol) that is fine- Jew is allowed to be a part of this.
This is the Chazon Ish interpreting Rabbeinu Tam.
So non-Jew swears in the name of "my God" but not in the specific name of his God (didn't say Molech/ Ba'al Pe'or, etc)- it's okay for you to be part of a business relationship with him.
Christians in the time of the Ba'alei HaTosfos said "God" or "Lord." Mentioned shem shamayim but kavanasam l'acheir- their intention was for something else/ a different matter. Believe in God as creator but also believe these other things. When they say God, they mean our idea of God plus another aspect to God (the Trinity.) There is still an issur in terms of worship- just in saying it. For a non-Jew to say God and think of God as having all these components; bnei Noach are not muzhar on that.
It never occurred to the Ba'alei HaTosfos that if you worship a human being and say it's God, it's not avodah zarah. They would say- of course it's avodah zara! But Chazon Ish says that to have these two things in your mind at the same time when saying "God"- that's fine. So to actually worship a human being- is avodah zara according to the Chazon Ish. So okay b'shituf to say this but not otherwise (for a non-Jew.)
Look at part Chaf-Alef on the sheet: Worshipping a person who actually existed vs. inventing something and claiming that it's god- which is worse? Apparently making something up that never existed and claiming it is god is merely apikorsus, heresy, but when you worship it you are not chayav on avodah zara.
[Here he deals with the machlokes of whether or not believing God has a body is a problem. Rayvid says mistaken notion but not apikorsus to believe it.]
If you worship the soul of a person who did exist (who is already dead) like Christians- if you assume the picture or statue itself has power then the statue/ power becomes avodah zara.
So it's worse to worship something that actually existed than something you made up.
Some speculation now- The Meiri might be of the opinion that worshipping Jesus while he was alive would be avodah zara, but once he's dead, not so much. The Chazon Ish mantains that this is avodah zara even though Jesus is dead.
Here's an interesting question: Let's say you have a Christian who doesn't actually go to Church, so he accepts the beliefs and tenets of Christianity but never actually worships- what does that make him? By avodah zara- when you mekabel something as your God- you say to the statue, "Keili ata"- you are my god- but what if you don't do that?
Look at Chaf on the page: To be mekabel something as a God, when you say only "keil atah" - not keili- you're granting its existence as a god but not accepting it as your deity.
Rambam in hilchos melachim toward the end: Eino meichasidei umos ha'olam mei'chachmeha or it reads v'lo/ ela mei'chachmeha.
So why would the Rambam say something like that? Rambam was an Aristotelian; he thought God's existence could be proved. Therefore people were stupid if they did not accept God.
Non-Jew believes in Creator- not religious Christian but keeps 7 Noachide laws and never actually worships- Chazon Ish is not sure if this is a problem.
(I am not sure if the following information is on the test. This might be the start of the Islam section, in which case it is not.)
pages 22-23- This is a xerox of the Tur (you know because you see the Beis Yosef and the Bach on the sides.) The Tur quotes the Rashba- bottom of page 22-
A geir toshav that takes 7 mitzvot upon himself (geir toshav refers to a person who is permitted to live in Israel as opposed to a non-Jew who doesn't keep the seven Noachide laws) lo se'chaneim- the Gemara learns 3 things from this. 1) You can't sell them a house
[I don't think we learned the other two.]
A) Yayin Deoraisa- Assur per Deoraisa is non-Jew pouring wine libations (like they used to for Dionysus and Bacchus.) Non-Jew comes and touches wine makes it non-Kosher. Rambam says this doesn't apply by Yishmaelim/ Muslims. Now, if Yishmaelim were considered true ovdei avodah zara then it ought to be considered yayin nesach but the Rambam explains it is not yayin nesach. Hence we see that Yishmaelim don't have status of ovdei avodah zarah (at least per the Rambam.)