Avodah Zarah 25bעבודה זרה כ״ה ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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25bכ״ה ב

אלא בתלתא דכוותה גבי ישראל בפרוצים מי שרי והתנן אבל אשה אחת מתייחדת עם שני אנשים ואמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל לא שנו אלא בכשרים אבל בפרוצים אפילו עשרה נמי לא מעשה היה והוציאוה עשרה במטה

Rather, the mishna is referring to a case in which a woman secludes herself with three gentiles. The Gemara asks: Is this permitted in the corresponding situation involving Jews steeped in sexual immorality? But didn’t we learn in a mishna (Kiddushin 80b): But one woman may be secluded with two men; and Rav Yehuda says that Shmuel says: They taught this halakha only with regard to men of fit morals; but with regard to those steeped in sexual immorality, she may not be secluded even with ten men. There was an incident where ten men carried a woman out of the city on a bier, as though she were dead, and they engaged in intercourse with her.

לא צריכא באשתו עמו עובד כוכבים אין אשתו משמרתו אבל ישראל אשתו משמרתו

The Gemara answers: No, the ruling of the mishna here is necessary in a case where the gentile’s wife is with him. The differences between the two rulings is that in the case of a gentile, it is assumed that his wife does not guard him against sinning with another, but with regard to a Jew, his wife does guard him against sinning with another.

ותיפוק ליה משום שפיכות דמים א"ר ירמיה באשה חשובה עסקינן דמירתתי מינה רב אידי אמר אשה כלי זיינה עליה

§ The mishna teaches that a woman may not seclude herself with a gentile due to the concern that they might engage in illicit sexual relations. The Gemara challenges: And let us derive that a woman may not seclude herself with a gentile due to the concern about bloodshed. The Gemara cites two responses. Rabbi Yirmeya says: We are dealing with a distinguished woman, whom gentiles will not kill, as they are fearful of her status. Nevertheless, there is a concern with regard to illicit sexual relations. Rav Idi bar Avin says: A woman carries her weapons upon her. In other words, there is no need to be concerned that a woman might be killed by gentiles; rather, the very fact that she is a woman protects her, as they would most likely rape her and not kill her.

מאי בינייהו איכא בינייהו אשה חשובה בין אנשים ושאינה חשובה בין הנשים

The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference between these two answers? The Gemara answers: The difference between them is with regard to a woman who is distinguished among men due to her political position, but is not distinguished among the women, i.e., she is unattractive. According to Rabbi Yirmeya, there is no concern that she will be killed, as she is distinguished, nor is there a concern that they will engage in illicit sexual relations. Therefore, it would be permitted for her to seclude herself with them. By contrast, as Rav Idi bar Avin stated his explanation in general terms, he evidently holds that the concern of illicit sexual relations always applies, regardless of the woman’s appearance.

תניא כוותיה דרב אידי בר אבין האשה אע"פ שהשלום עמה לא תתייחד עמהן מפני שחשודין על העריות:

The Gemara notes that it is taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rav Idi bar Avin: With regard to a woman, even though her protection accompanies her, i.e., she is not in danger of being killed, she may not seclude herself with gentiles because they are suspected of engaging in forbidden sexual relations.

לא יתייחד אדם עמהן: ת"ר ישראל שנזדמן לו עובד כוכבים בדרך טופלו לימינו ר' ישמעאל בנו של ר' יוחנן בן ברוקה אומר בסייף טופלו לימינו במקל טופלו לשמאלו

§ The mishna further teaches that a person may not seclude himself with gentiles because they are suspected of bloodshed. The Sages taught: A Jew who encounters a gentile on the road and continues his travels with him should position the gentile to his right, so that the Jew’s dominant hand is closest to the gentile, which will enable him to defend himself against a potential attack. Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Beroka, says: If the gentile is armed with a sword, the Jew positions him to his right, because a blade is usually carried on one’s left side. But if the gentile is armed with a stick, the Jew should steer him to his left, as a stick is usually carried in one’s right hand. By walking on the same side as the gentile’s weapon, the Jew can best prevent him from drawing it.

היו עולין במעלה או יורדין בירידה לא יהא ישראל למטה ועובד כוכבים למעלה אלא ישראל למעלה ועובד כוכבים למטה ואל ישוח לפניו שמא ירוץ את גולגלתו

The Gemara continues: If the Jew and gentile were ascending an incline or descending a decline, the Jew should not be positioned below while the gentile is above, so that the gentile will not have the advantage of height if he decides to attack. Rather, the Jew should be located above while the gentile is below. And the Jew should not bend down before him, lest the gentile break his skull.

שאלו להיכן הולך ירחיב לו את הדרך כדרך שעשה יעקב אבינו לעשו הרשע דכתיב (בראשית לג, יד) עד אשר אבא אל אדוני שעירה

Furthermore, if the gentile asks him where he is going, the Jew should extend the journey when relating his destination to him, i.e., he should claim that he is traveling to a place beyond his actual destination, in the manner that Jacob our father did to the wicked Esau. As it is written that Jacob said to Esau: “Let my lord pass over before his servant and I will journey on gently, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come unto my lord unto Seir” (Genesis 33:14).

וכתיב (בראשית לג, יז) ויעקב נסע סכותה

The Gemara continues: And it is written subsequently: “And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house” (Genesis 33:17). Rather than meeting Esau in Seir, Jacob traveled to the nearer location of Succoth. Telling a gentile that one is traveling to a farther destination might cause the gentile to defer his attack due to the assumption that he has a longer period of time to plan and execute it. As a result of the delay, the Jew has a better chance of reaching his true destination safely.

מעשה בתלמידי ר"ע שהיו הולכים לכזיב פגעו בהן ליסטים אמרו להן לאן אתם הולכים אמרו להן לעכו כיון שהגיעו לכזיב פירשו אמרו להן תלמידי מי אתם אמרו להן תלמידי ר"ע אמרו להן אשרי ר"ע ותלמידיו שלא פגע בהן אדם רע מעולם

The Gemara illustrates this idea through a relevant story. An incident occurred involving several students of Rabbi Akiva who were traveling to Keziv. Along the way, bandits encountered them and said to them: Where are you going? Rabbi Akiva’s students said to them: To Akko. Once they reached Keziv, Rabbi Akiva’s students separated from the bandits. At this point the bandits said to them: Whose students are you? The students said to the bandits: We are students of Rabbi Akiva. The bandits said to them: Fortunate are Rabbi Akiva and his students, as they were never harmed by an evil person. The bandits were impressed with the wisdom that the students demonstrated in evading harm.

רב מנשה הוה אזל

The Gemara relates another incident: Rav Menashe was traveling