אמר רבה מחלוקת בשל כפרים אבל בשל כרכים ד"ה מותרין מ"ט לנוי עבדי להו Rabba says: The dispute between Rabbi Meir and the Rabbis is only with regard to statues that are erected in villages. But with regard to those that are erected in cities, all agree that they are permitted, i.e., that it is permitted to derive benefit from them. What is the reason? It is because they were fashioned for ornamental purposes and not for worship.
ודכפרים מי איכא למ"ד לנוי קעבדי להו דכפרים ודאי למיפלחינהו עבדי להו The Gemara asks: But with regard to those erected in villages, is there anyone who says that they are fashioned for ornamental purposes? Those in villages were certainly fashioned for idol worship. How, then, can the Rabbis maintain that such statues are permitted?
אלא אי אתמר הכי אתמר אמר רבה מחלוקת בשל כרכים אבל בשל כפרים ד"ה אסורים: The Gemara answers: Rather, if such a distinction was stated, this is what was stated: Rabba says that the dispute between Rabbi Meir and the Rabbis is only with regard to statues that are erected in cities, where they may have been fashioned simply for ornamental purposes. But with regard to those erected in villages, all agree that they are used for idol worship and are therefore forbidden.
וחכ"א אינן אסורין וכו': מקל שרודה את עצמו תחת כל העולם כולו כמקל: צפור שתופש את עצמו תחת כל העולם כולו כצפור: כדור שתופש את עצמו תחת כל העולם כולו ככדור § The mishna teaches: And the Rabbis say: The only statues that are forbidden are: Any statue that has in its hand a staff, or a bird, or an orb, as these are indications that this statue is designated for idolatry. The Gemara explains that each of these items symbolizes the statue’s supposed divinity, indicating its dominion over the world: A staff symbolizes dominion as the idol rules itself under the entire world, i.e., it rules the entire world, like one rules over an animal with a staff. A bird symbolizes dominion as the idol grasps itself under the entire world, i.e., it grasps the entire world, as one grasps a bird in his hand. An orb symbolizes dominion as the idol grasps itself under the entire world, i.e., it grasps the entire world, as one grasps a ball in his hand.
תנא הוסיפו עליהן סייף עטרה וטבעת The Sages taught in the Tosefta (6:1) that they added the following to the list of items that, when added to a statue, indicate that it is worshipped as an idol: A sword in its hand, a crown on its head, and a ring on its finger.
סייף מעיקרא סבור לסטים בעלמא ולבסוף סבור שהורג את עצמו תחת כל העולם כולו The Gemara explains why these items were initially believed to be insignificant and were later understood as symbolizing idol worship. With regard to a statue holding a sword, the Sages initially thought that this merely indicates that it is a statue of a bandit. But in the end they reasoned that it symbolizes the notion that the idol has the power to kill itself under the whole world, i.e., to kill the entire world.
עטרה מעיקרא סבור גדיל כלילי בעלמא ולבסוף סבור כעטרה למלך טבעת מעיקרא סבור אישתיימא בעלמא ולבסוף סבור שחותם את עצמו תחת כל העולם כולו למיתה: With regard to a crown, the Sages initially thought that it is merely a woven wreath. But in the end they reasoned that it is like the crown of a king. With regard to a ring, the Sages initially thought that this merely symbolizes the bearer of a signet ring [ishtayema]. But in the end they reasoned that it is symbolic of the idol’s supposed ability to seal its fate under the whole world, i.e., to seal the fate of the entire world, for death.
רבן שמעון בן גמליאל כו': תנא אפילו צרור אפי' קיסם § The mishna teaches that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: It is prohibited to derive benefit even from any statue that has any item whatsoever in its hand. The Sages taught in a baraita: It is prohibited to derive benefit from a statue even if it is merely holding a stone, or even a twig.
בעי רב אשי תפש בידו צואה מהו מי אמרינן כ"ע זילו באפיה כי צואה א"ד הוא מיהו דזיל באפי כ"ע כצואה תיקו: Rav Ashi raises a dilemma: If the idol is grasping excrement in its hand, what is the halakha? Is this meant to honor the statue, indicating that it is an object of idol worship? Do we say that the statue is forbidden, as this indicates that the entire world is inferior to it like excrement, or perhaps does this indicate that the idol itself is inferior to the entire world like excrement? The Gemara concludes: The question shall stand unresolved.
מתני׳ המוצא שברי צלמים הרי אלו מותרין מצא תבנית יד או תבנית רגל הרי אלו אסורין מפני שכיוצא בהן נעבד: MISHNA: In the case of one who finds unidentifiable fragments of statues, these are permitted, i.e., one may derive benefit from them. If one found an object in the figure of a hand or in the figure of a foot, these are forbidden, as objects similar to those are worshipped.
גמ׳ אמר שמואל אפי' שברי עבודת כוכבים והאנן תנן שברי צלמים GEMARA: Shmuel says: It is permitted to derive benefit even from fragments of objects that have been seen used in idol worship. The Gemara asks: But didn’t we learn in the mishna that fragments of nondescript statues are permitted? This indicates that it is prohibited to derive benefit from fragments of idols that were known to be worshipped.
ה"ה דאפי' שברי עבודת כוכבים והא דקתני שברי צלמים משום דקבעי למיתנא סיפא מצא תבנית יד תבנית רגל הרי אלו אסורין מפני שכיוצא בהן נעבד The Gemara answers: The mishna means that fragments of statues are permitted, and the same is true even of fragments of objects of idol worship. And that which is taught in the mishna: Fragments of statues, is not meant to exclude fragments of idols. Rather, this expression is used because the mishna sought to teach in the last clause: If one found an object in the figure of a hand or in the figure of a foot, these are forbidden, even if they are not known to be objects of idol worship, as objects similar to those are worshipped. If the first clause in the mishna had referred to fragments of idols, it would have been inferred that the latter clause was referring specifically to the figure of a hand or foot that was known to have been worshipped, and that otherwise such figures would not be forbidden.
תנן מצא תבנית יד תבנית רגל הרי אלו אסורין מפני שכיוצא בו נעבד אמאי We learned in the mishna: If one found an object in the figure of a hand or in the figure of a foot, these are forbidden, as objects similar to those are worshipped. The Gemara asks: Why?