Avodah Zarah 50a:10עבודה זרה נ׳ א:י
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50aנ׳ א

במקורבות נמי דאיכא למימר מיניה נפל ד"ה אסורות כי פליגי במרוחקות

Furthermore, everyone agrees that also in the case of stones that are near the stone pile dedicated to Mercury, with regard to which it can be said that they fell from it, they are prohibited. Rabbi Yishmael and the Rabbis disagree only when the stones are distant.

והא בצד מרקוליס קתני מאי בצד בצד ארבע אמות דידיה

The Gemara challenges: But the mishna teaches that the stones are at the side of Mercury, indicating that they are nearby. The Gemara explains: What is meant by the term: At the side of Mercury? It means at the side of its four cubits.

רבי ישמעאל סבר עושין מרקוליס קטן בצד מרקוליס גדול שלש דדמיין למרקוליס אסורות שתים מותרות רבנן סברי אין עושין מרקוליס קטן בצד מרקוליס גדול לא שנא שלש ולא שנא שתים נראות עמו אסורות שאין נראות עמו מותרות:

The Gemara clarifies the dispute: Rabbi Yishmael holds that at times, idol worshippers initially construct a small stone pile dedicated to Mercury at the side of a large stone pile dedicated to Mercury. Therefore, three stones, which resemble a complete pile dedicated to Mercury, are prohibited. Two stones, which do not resemble a stone pile dedicated to Mercury, are permitted. Conversely, the Rabbis hold that idol worshippers do not construct a small stone pile dedicated to Mercury at the side of a large stone pile dedicated to Mercury. Therefore, the halakha is not different in a case where there are three stones, and it is not different in a case where there are two stones. In both cases those stones that can be seen together with the pile dedicated to Mercury are prohibited, as they may have fallen from it, whereas those that cannot be seen together with the stone pile are permitted.

אמר מר בידוע שנשרו ממנו דברי הכל אסורות ורמינהי אבנים שנשרו מן המרקוליס נראות עמו אסורות שאין נראות עמו מותרות ור' ישמעאל אומר שלש אסורות שתים מותרות אמר רבא לא תימא שנשרו אלא אימא שנמצאו

§ The Master said: In a case where it is known that these stones fell from it, everyone agrees that they are prohibited. And the Gemara raises a contradiction to Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement from his statement presented in a baraita: With regard to stones that fell from a pile dedicated to Mercury, those that can be seen together with it are prohibited; those that cannot be seen together with it are permitted. And Rabbi Yishmael says: Three stones are prohibited, but two stones are permitted. The baraita indicates that Rabbi Yishmael and the Rabbis also disagree where it is known that the stones fell from the stone pile. Rava said: Do not say in the baraita: Stones that fell from a pile. Rather, say: Stones that were found adjacent to the pile. There is no certainty that they fell from the pile.

וסבר ר' ישמעאל שתים מותרות והתניא ר' ישמעאל אומר שתים בתפיסה לו אסורות שלש אפילו מרוחקות אסורות

The Gemara asks: And does Rabbi Yishmael actually hold that two stones that are found adjacent to the pile are permitted? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yishmael says: Two stones that are found in the area of the pile dedicated to Mercury are prohibited. Three stones are prohibited, even if they are found at a distance.

אמר רבא לא קשיא כאן בתפיסה אחת כאן בשתי תפיסות וה"ד דאיכא גובהה ביני וביני

Rava said: It is not difficult. Here, in the second baraita, it is referring to a case where both the pile and the adjacent stones are in the same area, in which case the stones are forbidden. There, in the first baraita, it is referring to a case where they are in two adjacent areas, in which case they are permitted. And what is considered two adjacent areas? This is referring to a case where there is an elevated area between them, and evidently the stones did not fall from the pile.

ומרקוליס כה"ג מי הוי והא תניא אלו הן אבני בית קוליס אחת מכאן ואחת מכאן ואחת על גביהן אמר רבא כי תניא ההיא בעיקר מרקוליס

The Gemara asks: And are stones that are merely adjacent to each other in this way considered a pile dedicated to Mercury? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: These are the stones of a place of worship dedicated to Mercury: One stone is situated on one side and one is situated on the other side, and one is situated atop of them, but not where the stones are merely adjacent to each other? Rava said: When that baraita is taught, it is with regard to the main pile of stones dedicated to Mercury, but the stones that are added to it are not necessarily arranged in this way.

בי ינאי מלכא חרוב אתו עובדי כוכבים אוקימו ביה מרקוליס אתו עובדי כוכבים אחריני דלא פלחי למרקוליס שקלינהו וחיפו בהן דרכים וסטרטאות איכא רבנן דפרשי ואיכא רבנן דלא פרשי

§ The Gemara relates: The house of King Yannai was destroyed, and gentiles came and placed stones dedicated to Mercury in it. Later, other gentiles who did not worship Mercury came and took those stones and paved paths and streets with them. There were Rabbis who withdrew from these paths, and there were other Rabbis who did not withdraw from these paths.

א"ר יוחנן בנן של קדושים מהלך עליהן ואנן נפרוש מהן מאן ניהו בנן של קדושים רבי מנחם ברבי סימאי ואמאי קרו ליה בנן של קדושים דאפי' בצורתא דזוזא לא מיסתכל

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The son of holy ones walks on them. Should we withdraw from them? The Gemara asks: Who is the person referred to as the son of holy ones? The Gemara answers: It is Rabbi Menaḥem, son of Rabbi Simai. And why did they call him the son of holy ones? They did so because Rabbi Menaḥem would not even gaze at the form on a coin, as it was sometimes an idolatrous symbol.

מ"ט דמאן דפריש סבר לה כי הא דאמר רב גידל א"ר חייא בר יוסף א"ר מנין לתקרובת עבודת כוכבים שאין לה בטילה עולמית שנאמר (תהלים קו, כח) ויצמדו לבעל פעור ויאכלו זבחי מתים מה מת אין לו בטילה לעולם אף תקרובת עבודת כוכבים אין לה בטילה לעולם

The Gemara asks: What is the reason of the one who withdraws from those paths? He holds in accordance with that which Rav Giddel says that Rav Ḥiyya bar Yosef says that Rav says: From where is it derived that with regard to an offering brought in idolatrous worship, there can never be any nullification of its prohibited status? This is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “They joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and ate the offerings to the dead” (Psalms 106:28). Just as the prohibited status of a corpse has no nullification, and it is forever prohibited to derive benefit from it, so too, the prohibited status of an offering brought in idolatrous worship has no nullification ever.

ומאן דלא פריש אמר בעינא כעין פנים וליכא

And the one who does not withdraw from those paths says: In order for idol worship to prohibit an offering I require the offering to be like those offerings sacrificed inside the Temple, and there is no parallel to this offering in the Temple service, as stones are not brought as offerings.

אמר רב יוסף בר אבא איקלע רבה בר ירמיה לאתרין ואתא ואייתי מתניתא בידיה עובד כוכבים שהביא אבנים מן המרקוליס וחיפה בהן דרכים וטרטיאות

Rav Yosef bar Abba said: Rabba bar Yirmeya happened to come to our locale, and when he came he brought the following baraita with him: In the case of a gentile who brought stones from a pile dedicated to Mercury and paved paths and theaters with them,