Avodah Zarah 4aעבודה זרה ד׳ א
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בה דכתיב (מלאכי ג, יט) [כי] הנה היום בא בוער כתנור והיו כל זדים וכל עושה רשעה קש ולהט אותם היום הבא אמר ה' צבאות אשר לא יעזוב להם שורש וענף לא שורש בעולם הזה ולא ענף לעולם הבא

by it, as it is written: “For, behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that comes shall set them ablaze, said the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 3:19). This verse is interpreted as follows: Neither a root shall remain for them in this world, nor will a branch grow for them in the World-to-Come. This teaches that the sun itself will burn and consume the wicked in the future.

צדיקים מתרפאין בה דכתיב (מלאכי ג, כ) וזרחה לכם יראי שמי שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה וגו' ולא עוד אלא שמתעדנין בה שנאמר (מלאכי ג, כ) ויצאתם ופשתם כעגלי מרבק

And the righteous will be healed by it, as it is written in the next verse: “But to you that fear My Name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 3:20). And moreover, not only will they be healed by it, but they will even be rejuvenated by it, as it is stated in the continuation of that verse: “And you shall go forth and leap as calves of the stall.”

דבר אחר מה דגים שבים כל הגדול מחבירו בולע את חבירו אף בני אדם אלמלא מוראה של מלכות כל הגדול מחבירו בולע את חבירו והיינו דתנן רבי חנינא סגן הכהנים אומר הוי מתפלל בשלומה של מלכות שאלמלא מוראה של מלכות איש את רעהו חיים בלעו

Alternatively, just as in the case of fish of the sea, any fish that is bigger than another swallows the other, so too in the case of people, were it not for the fear of the ruling government, anyone who is bigger than another would swallow the other. And this is as we learned in a mishna (Avot 3:2) that Rabbi Ḥanina, the deputy High Priest, says: One should pray for the continued welfare of the government, as were it not for the fear of the government, every man would swallow his neighbor alive.

רב חיננא בר פפא רמי כתיב (איוב לז, כג) שדי לא מצאנוהו שגיא כח וכתיב (תהלים קמז, ה) גדול אדונינו ורב כח וכתיב (שמות טו, ו) ימינך ה' נאדרי בכח לא קשיא כאן בשעת הדין כאן בשעת מלחמה

§ Rav Ḥinnana bar Pappa raises a contradiction between the following verses. It is written: “The Almighty, Whom we have not found out His excellent power” (Job 37:23), which indicates that His power has not been seen. And it is written elsewhere: “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power” (Psalms 147:5), and it is also written: “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Exodus 15:6), from which it may be inferred that His power is discernable. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult; here, in the first verse, God’s strength is not seen at a time of judgment, where He acts mercifully, whereas there, in the other verses, they are referring to a time of war, when He wages war against His enemies and His power is seen.

רבי חמא בר' חנינא רמי כתיב (ישעיהו כז, ד) חימה אין לי וכתיב (נחום א, ב) נוקם ה' ובעל חימה לא קשיא כאן בישראל כאן בעובדי כוכבים רב חיננא בר פפא אמר חימה אין לי שכבר נשבעתי מי יתנני שלא נשבעתי אהיה שמיר ושית וגו'

Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, raises a contradiction between the following verses. It is written: “Fury is not in Me” (Isaiah 27:4), and it is written: “The Lord is a jealous and furious God” (Nahum 1:2). The Gemara answers: This is not difficult; here, where it states that God has no fury, it is speaking with regard to the Jewish people, whereas there, where it says that God has fury, it is speaking with regard to the nations of the world. Rav Ḥinnana bar Pappa says in explanation of the verse: “Fury is not in Me; would that I were as the briers and thorns in flame! I would with one step burn it altogether” (Isaiah 27:4). “Fury is not in Me,” as I have already taken an oath that I will not destroy the Jewish people; “would that I” had not taken this oath, since then I would be active “as the briers and thorns in flame! I would with one step burn it altogether.”

והיינו דאמר רבי אלכסנדרי מאי דכתיב (זכריה יב, ט) והיה ביום ההוא אבקש להשמיד את כל הגוים אבקש ממי אמר הקב"ה אבקש בניגני שלהם אם יש להם זכות אפדם ואם לאו אשמידם

And this is the same as that which Rabbi Alexandri says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations” (Zechariah 12:9)? “I will seek” from whom? Does God need to seek permission? Rather, the Holy One, Blessed be He, says: I will seek and search in their records [benigeni]; if they have merit, I will redeem them, and if not, I will destroy them.

והיינו דאמר רבא מאי דכתיב (איוב ל, כד) אך לא בעי ישלח יד אם בפידו להן שוע אמר להן הקב"ה לישראל כשאני דן את ישראל אין אני דן אותם כעובדי כוכבים דכתיב (יחזקאל כא, לב) עוה עוה עוה אשימנה וגו' אלא אני נפרע מהן כפיד של תרנגולת

And this is the same as that which Rava says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Surely none shall put forth his hand to a ruinous heap, neither because of these things shall help come in one’s calamity [befido]” (Job 30:24)? The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to the Jewish people: When I judge the Jewish people, I do not judge them as I judge the nations of the world. When judging the nations of the world, I punish them for all of their transgressions together, as it is written: “A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, will I make it, this also shall be no more” (Ezekiel 21:32). Rather, I punish the Jewish people like the pecking [kefid] of a hen, which picks up only a tiny amount each time it pecks.

דבר אחר אפילו אין ישראל עושין מצוה לפני כי אם מעט כפיד של תרנגולין שמנקרין באשפה אני מצרפן לחשבון גדול [שנאמר אם בפידו] להן שוע [דבר אחר] בשכר שמשוועין לפני אני מושיע אותם

Alternatively, even if the Jewish people perform but a few mitzvot before Me, like the pecking of hens that peck in a dunghill, I will combine them to a large reckoning, as it is stated: “Though they peck [befido],” i.e., perform mitzvot a little at a time, “they will be saved [lahen shua]” (Job 30:24). Alternatively, in reward for the manner in which they cry out [shua] and pray before Me, I will save [moshia] them. In other words, God punishes the Jewish people for each individual infraction, but He does not destroy them entirely in a moment of fury.

והיינו דאמר ר' אבא מאי דכתיב (הושע ז, יג) ואנכי אפדם והמה דברו עלי כזבים אני אמרתי אפדם בממונם בעוה"ז כדי שיזכו לעולם הבא והמה דברו עלי כזבים

And this is the same as that which Rabbi Abba says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And though I will redeem them, they have spoken lies against Me” (Hosea 7:13)? I said that I would redeem them through taking away their money in this world so that they should merit the World-to-Come, but they have spoken lies against Me, by saying that I am angry and uninterested in them.

והיינו דאמר רב פפי משמיה דרבא מאי דכתיב (הושע ז, טו) ואני יסרתי חזקתי זרועותם ואלי יחשבו רע אמר הקב"ה אני אמרתי איסרם ביסורין בעולם הזה כדי שיחזקו זרועותם לעוה"ב ואלי יחשבו רע

And this is the same as that which Rav Pappi says in the name of Rava: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Though I have trained [yissarti] and strengthened their arms, yet they consider evil against Me” (Hosea 7:15)? The Holy One, Blessed be He, says: I said that I would visit them [ayasserem] with afflictions in this world for their benefit, so that their arms would be strengthened in the World-to-Come, but they consider that which I have done as evil.

משתבח להו ר' אבהו למיני ברב ספרא דאדם גדול הוא שבקו ליה מיכסא דתליסר שנין יומא חד אשכחוהו אמרו ליה כתיב (עמוס ג, ב) רק אתכם ידעתי מכל משפחות האדמה על כן אפקוד עליכם את כל עונותיכם מאן דאית ליה סיסיא ברחמיה מסיק ליה אישתיק ולא אמר להו ולא מידי רמו ליה סודרא בצואריה וקא מצערו ליה

With regard to the afflictions of the Jewish people, the Gemara relates: Rabbi Abbahu would praise Rav Safra to the heretics by saying that he is a great man. Therefore, they remitted Rav Safra’s obligation to pay taxes for thirteen years, as they relied upon Rabbi Abbahu’s word and wanted to reward a great man. One day they found Rav Safra and said to him: It is written: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). The meaning of this verse is unclear, as why would God punish specifically the Jewish people because He loves them? One who has wrath [siseya], does he raise it against his beloved? Rav Safra was silent and did not say anything in response to them. They threw a scarf around his neck and tormented him, by pulling and denigrating him.

אתא רבי אבהו אשכחינהו אמר להו אמאי מצעריתו ליה אמרו ליה ולאו אמרת לן דאדם גדול הוא [ולא ידע למימר לן פירושא דהאי פסוקא] אמר להו אימר דאמרי לכו בתנאי בקראי מי אמרי לכו

Rabbi Abbahu came and found them doing this to Rav Safra. Rabbi Abbahu said to them: Why are you tormenting him? They said to him: And didn’t you say to us that he is a great man? But he did not even know how to tell us the explanation of this verse. Rabbi Abbahu said to them: You can say that I said this praise of Rav Safra to you only with regard to the Oral Law and the statements of tanna’im, but did I say to you that he is knowledgeable with regard to the Bible?

אמרו ליה מ"ש אתון דידעיתון אמר להו אנן דשכיחינן גביכון רמינן אנפשין ומעיינן אינהו לא מעייני

They said to Rabbi Abbahu: What is different about you Sages of Eretz Yisrael, that you know the Bible as well? Rabbi Abbahu said to them: We, who are situated among you heretics and are forced to debate the meaning of verses, we impose upon ourselves this obligation and analyze verses in depth. By contrast, those Sages of Babylonia, who are not forced to debate you, do not analyze the Bible in such depth.

אמרו ליה לימא לן את אמר להו אמשול לכם משל למה"ד לאדם שנושה משני בנ"א אחד אוהבו ואחד שונאו אוהבו נפרע ממנו מעט מעט שונאו נפרע ממנו בבת אחת

The heretics said to Rabbi Abbahu: In that case, you should tell us the meaning of this verse. Rabbi Abbahu said to them: I will relate a parable to you. To what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a person who lends money to two people, one of whom is his beloved, and the other one is his enemy. In the case of his beloved, he collects the debt from him little by little, whereas in the case of his enemy he collects the debt from him all at once. So too, with regard to the Jewish people, God punishes them for each transgression as it occurs, so that they should not receive one severe punishment on a single occasion.

א"ר אבא בר כהנא מאי דכתיב (בראשית יח, כה) חלילה לך מעשות כדבר הזה להמית צדיק עם רשע אמר אברהם לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע חולין הוא מעשות כדבר הזה להמית צדיק עם רשע

§ The Gemara continues discussing the manner in which God metes out punishment. Rabbi Abba Bar Kahana says: What is the meaning of that which is written as part of Abraham’s prayer to God, when God informed him that He was going to destroy Sodom: “That be far [ḥalila] from You to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked” (Genesis 18:25)? This is what Abraham said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, it is a sacrilege [ḥullin] for You to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked.

ולא והכתיב (יחזקאל כא, ח) והכרתי ממך צדיק ורשע בצדיק שאינו גמור

The Gemara asks: And does God not act in this manner? But isn’t it written: “And I will cut off from You the righteous and the wicked” (Ezekiel 21:8)? The Gemara answers: There the verse is referring to a righteous person who is not completely righteous, and he will therefore be destroyed along with the wicked.

אבל בצדיק גמור לא והכתיב (יחזקאל ט, ו) וממקדשי תחלו ותני רב יוסף אל תקרי ממקדשי אלא ממקודשי אלו בני אדם שקיימו את התורה מאל"ף ועד תי"ו התם נמי כיון שהיה בידם למחות ולא מיחו הוו להו כצדיקים שאינן גמורים

The Gemara raises a difficulty: But is it true that one who is completely righteous cannot be destroyed along with the wicked? But isn’t it written in a prophecy about the destruction of the Temple that God says to the destroyers: “And begin at My Sanctuary [mimmikdashi]” (Ezekiel 9:6); and Rav Yosef teaches: Do not read the word as mimmikdashi,” but rather read it as mimmekudashai, those sanctified to Me. He explains: These are people who observed the Torah in its entirety, from the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet alef through its final letter tav. These people observed every mitzva in the Torah, and yet they were destroyed along with the wicked. The Gemara answers the difficulty: There too, since they had the power to protest against the wicked and prevent them from sinning and they did not protest, they are considered as righteous people who are not completely righteous.

רב פפא רמי כתיב (תהלים ז, יב) אל זועם בכל יום וכתיב (נחום א, ו) לפני זעמו מי יעמוד לא קשיא כאן ביחיד כאן בצבור

Rav Pappa raises a contradiction between the following verses. It is written: “A God that has indignation every day” (Psalms 7:12), and yet the world still exists, and it is written: “Who can stand before His indignation?” (Nahum 1:6). The Gemara answers: This is not difficult; here, where the verse states that no one can stand before His indignation, it is referring to an individual, whereas there, when it is written that God is indignant every day, it is referring to the community, which can withstand the indignation of God, due to its cumulative merits.

ת"ר אל זועם בכל יום וכמה זעמו רגע וכמה רגע אחת מחמש ריבוא ושלשת אלפים ושמונה מאות וארבעים ושמנה בשעה זו היא רגע ואין כל בריה יכולה לכוין אותה רגע חוץ מבלעם הרשע דכתיב ביה

The Sages taught with regard to the verse: A God that has indignation every day. And how long does His indignation last? It lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? One in 53,848 parts of an hour, a very small amount of time, that is a moment. The Gemara adds: And no entity can precisely determine that moment when God is indignant, except for Balaam the wicked, that it is written concerning him: