Avodah Zarah 18b:5עבודה זרה י״ח ב:ה
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18bי״ח ב

ומי יימר דהכי איכא [א"ל השתא חזית] הוו הנהו כלבי דהוו קא אכלי אינשי שקל קלא שדא בהו הוו קאתו למיכליה אמר אלהא דמאיר ענני שבקוה ויהבה ליה

And who can say that this is the case, that I will be saved by this utterance? Rabbi Meir said to him: You will now see. There were these carnivorous dogs that would devour people; Rabbi Meir took a clod of earth, threw it at them, and when they came to devour him, he said: God of Meir answer me! The dogs then left him alone, and after seeing this the guard gave the daughter of Rabbi Ḥanina ben Teradyon to Rabbi Meir.

לסוף אשתמע מילתא בי מלכא אתיוה אסקוה לזקיפה אמר אלהא דמאיר ענני אחתוה אמרו ליה מאי האי אמר להו הכי הוה מעשה

Ultimately the matter was heard in the king’s court, and the guard, who was brought and taken to be hanged, said: God of Meir answer me! They then lowered him down, as they were unable to hang him. They said to him: What is this? He said to them: This was the incident that occurred, and he proceeded to relate the entire story to them.

אתו חקקו לדמותיה דר' מאיר אפיתחא דרומי אמרי כל דחזי לפרצופא הדין לייתיה יומא חדא חזיוהי רהט אבתריה רהט מקמייהו על לבי זונות איכא דאמרי בשולי עובדי כוכבים חזא טמש בהא ומתק בהא איכא דאמרי אתא אליהו אדמי להו כזונה כרכתיה אמרי חס ושלום אי ר' מאיר הוה לא הוה עביד הכי

They then went and engraved the image of Rabbi Meir at the entrance of Rome where it would be seen by everyone, and they said: Anyone who sees a man with this face should bring him here. One day, Romans saw Rabbi Meir and ran after him, and he ran away from them and entered a brothel to hide. Some say he then escaped capture because he saw food cooked by gentiles and dipped [temash] this finger in the food and tasted it with that other finger, and thereby fooled them into thinking that he was eating their food, which they knew Rabbi Meir would not do. And some say that he escaped detection because Elijah came, appeared to them as a prostitute and embraced Rabbi Meir. The Romans who were chasing him said: Heaven forbid, if this were Rabbi Meir, he would not act in that manner.

קם ערק אתא לבבל איכא דאמרי מהאי מעשה ואיכא דאמרי ממעשה דברוריא:

Rabbi Meir arose, fled, and arrived in Babylonia. The Gemara notes: There are those who say that he fled because of this inci-dent, and there are those who say that he fled due to embarrassment from the incident involving his wife Berurya.

תנו רבנן ההולך לאיצטדינין ולכרקום וראה שם את הנחשים ואת החברין בוקיון ומוקיון ומוליון ולוליון בלורין סלגורין הרי זה מושב לצים ועליהם הכתוב אומר (תהלים א, א) אשרי האיש אשר לא הלך וגו' כי אם בתורת ה' חפצו הא למדת. שדברים הללו מביאין את האדם לידי ביטול תורה

§ The Sages taught: With regard to one who goes to stadiums [le’itztadinin] where people are killed in contests with gladiators or beasts, or to a camp of besiegers [ulkharkom] where different forms of entertainment are provided for the besieging army, and he sees there the acts of the diviners and those who cast spells, or the acts of the clowns known as bukiyon, or mukiyon, or muliyon, or luliyon, or belurin, or salgurin, this is categorized as “the seat of the scornful”; and with regard to such places the verse states: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the council of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord” (Psalms 1:1–2). You learn from here that these matters bring a person to dereliction of the study of Torah, since had he not sat in “the seat of the scornful,” he would delight in the study of Torah.

ורמינהי [הולכין] לאיצטדינין מותר מפני שצווח ומציל ולכרקום מותר מפני ישוב מדינה ובלבד שלא יתחשב עמהם ואם נתחשב עמהם אסור קשיא איצטדינין אאיצטדינין קשיא כרקום אכרקום

And the Gemara raises a contradiction from another baraita: One is permitted to go to stadiums, because he can scream and save the life of a Jew who would otherwise be killed there; and it is permitted to go to a camp of besiegers, because at times one can provide for the public welfare by petitioning the besiegers and saving the residents of the town, provided that he is not counted as one of them; but if he is counted as one of them, it is prohibited. This is difficult, as there is a contradiction between the statement about attending stadiums in the first baraita and the statement about attending stadiums in the second baraita, and is similarly difficult as there is a contradiction between the statement about a camp of besiegers in the first baraita and the statement about a camp of besiegers in the second baraita.

בשלמא כרקום אכרקום ל"ק כאן במתחשב עמהן כאן בשאין מתחשב עמהן אלא איצטדינין אאיצטדינין קשיא

The Gemara continues: Granted, the apparent contradiction between one statement about a camp of besiegers and the other statement about a camp of besiegers is not difficult, as here, the first baraita is referring to a case where he is counted as one of them, and there, the second baraita is referring to a case where he is not counted as one of them. But with regard to the contradiction between the ruling about attending stadiums in the first baraita and the ruling about attending stadiums in the second baraita, it is difficult.

תנאי היא דתניא אין הולכין לאיצטדינין מפני מושב לצים ור' נתן מתיר מפני שני דברים אחד מפני שצווח ומציל ואחד מפני שמעיד עדות אשה להשיאה

The Gemara answers: This issue is a dispute between tanna’im, as it is taught in a baraita: One may not go to stadiums, because they are considered “the seat of the scornful.” And Rabbi Natan permits attending stadiums due to two reasons; one is because he can scream and save the life of someone who would otherwise be killed, and the other one is because even if he cannot save the man’s life, he can provide testimony that a woman’s husband died, which will enable her to marry again.

תנו רבנן אין הולכין לטרטיאות ולקרקסיאות מפני שמזבלין שם זיבול לעבודת כוכבים דברי ר' מאיר וחכמים אומרים מקום שמזבלין אסור מפני חשד עבודת כוכבים ומקום שאין מזבלין שם אסור מפני מושב לצים

The Sages taught: One may not go to theaters [letarteiot] or circuses [ulkirkaseiot] because they sacrifice offerings there to objects of idol worship; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: It is prohibited to go to a place where they sacrifice offerings, due to a suspicion of idol worship, and it is also prohibited to go to a place where they do not sacrifice offerings, due to it being considered “the seat of the scornful.”

מאי בינייהו אמר ר' חנינא מסורא נשא ונתן איכא בינייהו

The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference between the opinion of the Rabbis and that of Rabbi Meir? After all, according to both opinions it is prohibited to attend theaters or circuses. Rabbi Ḥanina of Sura said: The difference between them arises in the case of one who engaged in business there. According to Rabbi Meir, the profits are forbidden as the proceeds of idol worship, as Rabbi Meir maintains that the gentiles certainly worship idols at theaters or circuses. Conversely, according to the Rabbis, the profits are forbidden only if it is established that they worshipped idols there.

דרש ר' שמעון בן פזי מאי דכתיב אשרי האיש אשר לא הלך בעצת רשעים ובדרך חטאים לא עמד ובמושב לצים לא ישב וכי מאחר שלא הלך היכן עמד ומאחר שלא עמד היכן ישב ומאחר שלא ישב היכן לץ

§ Apropos the earlier discussion of the evils of scornfulness, the Gemara cites several statements that criticize such behavior. Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1)? Since he did not walk in the counsel of the wicked, how could he stand with them? And since he did not stand, how could he sit with them? And since he did not sit with them, how could he have scorned? Since he never joined the company of the wicked, he would have no reason to be involved with them in any manner.

אלא לומר לך שאם הלך סופו לעמוד ואם עמד סופו לישב ואם ישב סופו ללוץ ואם לץ עליו הכתוב אומר (משלי ט, יב) אם חכמת חכמת לך ואם לצת לבדך תשא

Rather, the verse serves to say to you that if he walked with the wicked, he will ultimately stand with them. And if he stood with them, he will ultimately sit in their company, and if he sat, he will ultimately scorn along with them. And if he scorned, the verse says about him: “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; and if you scorn, you alone shall bear it” (Proverbs 9:12).

א"ר אליעזר כל המתלוצץ יסורין באין עליו שנאמר (ישעיהו כח, כב) ועתה אל תתלוצצו פן יחזקו מוסריכם אמר להו רבא לרבנן במטותא בעינא מינייכו דלא תתלוצצו דלא ליתו עלייכו יסורין

Rabbi Eliezer says: Concerning anyone who scoffs, suffering will befall him, as it is stated: “Now therefore do not be scoffers, lest your suffering be made strong” (Isaiah 28:22). Similarly, Rava said to the Sages who were sitting before him: Please, I ask of you that you not scoff, so that suffering will not befall you.

אמר רב קטינא כל המתלוצץ מזונותיו מתמעטין שנאמר (הושע ז, ה) משך ידו את לוצצים אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש כל המתלוצץ נופל בגיהנם שנאמר (משלי כא, כד) זד יהיר לץ שמו עושה בעברת זדון ואין עברה אלא גיהנם שנאמר (צפניה א, טו) יום עברה היום ההוא

Rav Ketina says: Concerning anyone who scoffs, his sustenance is lessened, as it is stated: “He stretches out his hand with scorners” (Hosea 7:5), meaning that God withdraws His providence from scoffers and does not provide for them. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish says: Anyone who scoffs falls into Gehenna, as it is stated: “A proud and haughty man, scorner is his name, he acts in arrogant wrath” (Proverbs 21:24). And wrath means nothing other than Gehenna, as it is stated with regard to the Day of Judgment: “That day is a day of wrath” (Zephaniah 1:15).

אמר ר' אושעיא כל המתייהר נופל בגיהנם שנאמר זד יהיר לץ שמו עושה בעברת זדון ואין עברה אלא גיהנם שנאמר יום עברה היום ההוא אמר רבי חנילאי בר חנילאי כל המתלוצץ גורם כלייה לעולם שנאמר ועתה אל תתלוצצו פן יחזקו מוסריכם כי כלה ונחרצה שמעתי

Rabbi Oshaya says, based on the same verse: Anyone who is haughty falls into Gehenna, as it is stated: “A proud and haughty man, scorner is his name, he acts in arrogant wrath” (Proverbs 21:24). And wrath means nothing other than Gehenna, as it is stated: “That day is a day of wrath” (Zephaniah 1:15). Rabbi Ḥanilai bar Ḥanilai says: Anyone who scoffs causes extermination to be wrought upon the world, as it is stated: “Now therefore do not be scoffers, lest your suffering be made strong; for an extermination wholly determined have I heard from the Lord, the God of hosts, upon the whole land” (Isaiah 28:22).

אמר רבי אליעזר קשה היא שתחילת' יסורין וסופו כלייה דרש ר' שמעון בן פזי אשרי האיש אשר לא הלך לטרטיאות ולקרקסיאות של עובדי כוכבים ובדרך חטאים לא עמד זה שלא עמד בקנגיון ובמושב לצים לא ישב שלא ישב בתחבולות

Rabbi Eliezer says: Scoffing is a severe sin, as at first one is punished with suffering, and ultimately one is punished with extermination. Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi taught: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked,” this is referring to the theaters and circuses of gentiles; “nor stood in the way of sinners,” this is referring to one who has not stood as an observer at bestial contests [bekinigiyyon]; “nor sat in the seat of the scornful,” this is referring to one who has not sat in the bad company of people who engage in scoffing and jeering.

שמא יאמר אדם הואיל ולא הלכתי לטרטיאות ולקרקסיאות ולא עמדתי בקנגיון אלך ואתגרה בשינה ת"ל ובתורתו יהגה יומם ולילה

Lest a person say: Since I did not go to theaters and circuses, and did not stand in bestial contests, I will go and indulge in sleep, the verse states: “And he meditates in His law day and night” (Psalms 1:2). This demonstrates that it is not sufficient simply to avoid transgressions; rather, it is necessary to engage actively in Torah study.

אמר רב שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן אשרי האיש אשר לא הלך בעצת רשעים זה

§ The Gemara relates an alternative homiletic interpretation of the verse discussed above. Rav Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalms 1:1); this