Avodah Zarah 52aעבודה זרה נ״ב א
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52aנ״ב א

תנהו ענין לכלים מכאן אמרו עבודת כוכבים של עובד כוכבים אינה אסורה אלא עד שתעבד ושל ישראל מיד

Since the verse does not apply to places that were themselves worshipped, apply it to the matter of vessels that were used for idol worship. It is from here that the Sages stated: A gentile’s object of idol worship is not prohibited until it is worshipped, but a Jew’s object of idol worship is forbidden immediately.

והא בכלים אוקימנא לה אמר קרא (דברים יב, ב) אשר אתם יורשים אותם את אלהיהם מקיש אלהיהם לכלים מה כלים עד שיעבדו אף אלהיהם נמי עד שיעבדו ור"ע דלא מקיש אמר לך את הפסיק הענין

The Gemara questions how the halakha with regard to an object of idol worship is derived from this verse. But didn’t we interpret this verse as being stated with regard to vessels used in idolatrous worship, and not to an object of idol worship? The Gemara answers: The verse states: “You shall destroy all the places, where the nations that you are to dispossess served their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:2). The verse juxtaposes “their gods” to “the places,” i.e., the vessels used to serve them. Just as the vessels are not forbidden until they are used for worship, so too their gods, the idols, are also not forbidden until they are worshipped. And Rabbi Akiva, who does not consider the terms juxtaposed, he could say to you that the word et,” written in the verse before the term “their gods,” separates the matter of their gods from the matter of the vessels.

ורבי ישמעאל אשכחן עבודת כוכבים של עובד כוכבים דאין אסורה עד שתעבד דישראל דאסורה מיד מנא ליה סברא הוא מדעובד כוכבים עד שתעבד דישראל אסורה מיד אימא דישראל כלל וכלל לא השתא גניזה בעיא איתסורי לא מיתסרא

The Gemara asks: And as for the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, we found a source for the halakha that a gentile’s object of idol worship is not prohibited until it is worshipped. From where does he derive that a Jew’s object of idol worship is prohibited immediately? The Gemara answers: It is based on logical reasoning. From the fact that a gentile’s idol is not forbidden until it is worshipped, it stands to reason that a Jew’s idol is prohibited immediately. The Gemara asks: Why not say that a Jew’s idol is not forbidden at all? The Gemara answers: Now, the status of a Jew’s idol cannot be revoked and the idol requires interment. Is it possible that it does not become prohibited?

ואימא כדעובד כוכבים אמר קרא (דברים ט, כא) ואת חטאתכם אשר עשיתם את העגל משעת עשייה קם ליה בחטא

The Gemara challenges: But one could say that a Jew’s idol is forbidden only once it is worshipped, just as a gentile’s idol is forbidden only once it is worshipped. The Gemara answers: The verse states: “And I took your sin, the calf that you had made, and I burned it with fire” (Deuteronomy 9:21), which indicates that from the time of its making its worshippers were liable for the sin.

אימא ה"מ למיקם גברא בחטא איתסורי לא מיתסרא אמר קרא (דברים כז, טו) ארור האיש אשר יעשה פסל ומסכה משעת עשייה קם ליה בארור

The Gemara asks: Why not say that this matter applies only with regard to rendering the man who made the idol liable for the sin, but the object of idol worship does not become prohibited until it is worshipped? The Gemara answers: The verse states: “Cursed be the man who shall make a graven or molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and shall set it up in a hidden place” (Deuteronomy 27:15), which indicates that from the time of its making the person who made the idol is liable to be cursed.

אימא ה"מ למיקם גברא בארור איתסורי לא מיתסרא תועבת ה' כתיב

The Gemara asks: Why not say that this matter applies only with regard to rendering the man who made the idol liable to be cursed, but the object of idol worship does not become prohibited until it is worshipped? The Gemara answers: It is written: “An abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 27:15). This indicates that the idol itself is an abomination and is therefore prohibited from the time that it is made.

ור"ע דבר המביא לידי תועבה

The Gemara asks: And as for Rabbi Akiva, who does not maintain that a Jew’s idol is forbidden from the time that it is made, how does he interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Akiva explains that the term “an abomination” means an object that leads to abomination but itself is not considered an abomination before it is worshipped.

ור"ע עבודת כוכבים של עובד כוכבים דאסורה מיד מנא ליה אמר עולא אמר קרא (דברים ז, כה) פסילי אלהיהם תשרפון באש משפסלו נעשה אלוה

The Gemara explains the opinion of Rabbi Akiva: And as for the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, from where does he derive that a gentile’s object of idol worship is prohibited immediately? Ulla said: The verse states: “The graven images of their gods you shall burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, lest you be snared thereby, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 7:25). The term “graven images” indicates that from the time that the gentile engraves and carves the stone into an idol it becomes a god and is forbidden.

ואידך ההוא מיבעי ליה לכדתני רב יוסף דתני רב יוסף מנין לעובד כוכבים שפוסל אלוהו שנאמר פסילי אלהיהם תשרפון באש

The Gemara asks: And the other tanna, Rabbi Yishmael, how does he interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yishmael requires that verse for that which Rav Yosef teaches in a baraita, as Rav Yosef teaches: From where is it derived that a gentile may revoke [sheposel] the status of an object as his god? This is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “The graven images of [pesilei] their gods you shall burn with fire” (Deuteronomy 7:25).

ואידך נפקא ליה מדשמואל דשמואל רמי כתיב (דברים ז, כה) לא תחמוד כסף וזהב עליהם וכתיב ולקחת לך הא כיצד פסלו לאלוה לא תחמוד פסלו מאלוה ולקחת לך

The Gemara asks: And the other tanna, Rabbi Akiva, from where does he derive this halakha? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Akiva derives it from the interpretation of Shmuel, as Shmuel raises a contradiction: It is written: “The graven images of [pesilei] their gods you shall burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them” (Deuteronomy 7:25), and in the continuation of the verse it is written: “And take it for yourself,” indicating that one is permitted to take the silver and gold. How can these texts be reconciled? If the gentile engraved and carved the stone as a god, it is immediately rendered forbidden and the prohibition “you shall not covet” applies. If the gentile revoked [pesalo] the idol’s status as a god, the continuation of the verse: “And take it for yourself,” applies.

ור"ע אשכחן עבודת כוכבים של עובד כוכבים דאסורה מיד דישראל עד שתעבד מנלן אמר רב יהודה אמר קרא (דברים כז, טו) ושם בסתר עד שיעשה לה דברים שבסתר

The Gemara asks: And as for the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, we found a source for the halakha that a gentile’s object of idol worship is prohibited immediately. From where do we derive that a Jew’s object of idol worship is not forbidden until it is worshipped? Rav Yehuda said that the verse states: “Cursed be the man who shall make a graven or molten image…and shall set it up in a hidden place” (Deuteronomy 27:15). This indicates that the idol is not rendered forbidden until the idolater performs in service of the idol those matters, i.e., rites, that are performed in a hidden place.

ואידך ההוא מיבעיא ליה לכדרבי יצחק דא"ר יצחק מנין לעבודת כוכבים של ישראל שטעונה גניזה שנאמר ושם בסתר

The Gemara asks: And the other tanna, Rabbi Yishmael, how does he interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yishmael requires that verse for that which Rabbi Yitzḥak says, as Rabbi Yitzḥak says: From where is it derived that a Jew’s object of idol worship requires interment? This is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “And shall set it up in a hidden place” (Deuteronomy 27:15), which Rabbi Yitzḥak interprets as requiring one to inter the idol in a hidden place.

ואידך נפקא ליה מדרב חסדא אמר רב דאמר רב חסדא אמר רב מנין לעבודת כוכבים של ישראל שטעונה גניזה שנאמר (דברים טז, כא) לא תטע לך אשרה כל עץ אצל מזבח מה מזבח טעון גניזה אף אשרה טעונה גניזה

The Gemara asks: And the other tanna, Rabbi Akiva, from where does he derive this halakha? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Akiva derives it from that which Rav Ḥisda says that Rav says, as Rav Ḥisda says that Rav says: From where is it derived that a Jew’s object of idol worship requires interment? This is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “You shall not plant for yourself an ashera of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 16:21). The verse juxtaposes an ashera, a tree used as part of idolatrous rites, to the altar. This indicates that just as the altar requires interment, so too an ashera requires interment.

ואידך ההוא מיבעי ליה לכדר"ל דאמר ר"ל כל המעמיד דיין שאינו הגון כאילו נוטע אשרה בישראל שנאמר (דברים טז, יח) שופטים ושוטרים תתן לך בכל שעריך וסמיך ליה לא תטע לך אשרה כל עץ

The Gemara asks: And the other tanna, Rabbi Yishmael, how does he interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yishmael requires that verse for that which Reish Lakish says, as Reish Lakish says: Anyone who appoints over the community a judge who is unfit for the position, due to his lack of knowledge or wickedness, is considered as though he plants an ashera among the Jewish people, as it is stated: “Judges and officers you shall make for yourself in all of your gates” (Deuteronomy 16:18), and juxtaposed to it is the verse: “You shall not plant for yourself an ashera of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 16:21).

אמר רב אשי ובמקום תלמידי חכמים כאילו נטעו אצל מזבח שנאמר אצל מזבח

Rav Ashi says: And if one appoints an unsuitable individual as a judge in a place where there are Torah scholars, it is as though he planted an ashera next to the altar, as it is stated: “Beside the altar of the Lord your God.”

בעי רב המנונא ריתך כלי לעבודת כוכבים מהו עבודת כוכבים דמאן אילימא עבודת כוכבים דעובד כוכבים בין לר' ישמעאל ובין לר"ע משמשי עבודת כוכבים הן ומשמשי עבודת כוכבים אין אסורין עד שיעבדו ואלא עבודת כוכבים דישראל

§ Rav Hamnuna raises a dilemma: If one welded [ritekh] a broken vessel for idol worship, what is the halakha? The Gemara asks: With regard to whose idol worship does Rav Hamnuna raise the dilemma? If we say that Rav Hamnuna is referring to a gentile’s idol worship, that is difficult, as both according to Rabbi Yishmael and according to Rabbi Akiva vessels used in idolatrous worship are considered accessories of idol worship, and accessories of idol worship are not prohibited until they are used for worship. Rather, Rav Hamnuna is referring to a Jews’ idol worship.

אליבא דמאן אילימא אליבא דר"ע השתא היא גופה לא מיתסר' עד שתעבד משמשיה מיבעיא ואלא אליבא דרבי ישמעאל דאמר אסורה מיד

The Gemara asks: In accordance with whose opinion does Rav Hamnuna raise the dilemma? If we say that he raises the dilemma in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, this is difficult. Now that the idol itself is not prohibited until it is worshipped, is it necessary to state that its accessories are not forbidden until they are used for idol worship? Rather, perhaps Rav Hamnuna raises the dilemma in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, who says that a Jew’s idol is prohibited immediately.

מאי משמשין ממשמשין גמרינן מה התם עד שיעבדו אף הכא עד שיעבדו או דלמא מינה גמר מה היא אסורה מיד אף משמשיה אסורין מיד

The Gemara suggest an explanation of the dilemma: What is the halakha with regard to a Jew’s accessories of idol worship? Do we learn the halakha with regard to a Jew’s accessories from the halakha with regard to a gentile’s accessories? Just as there, in the case of a gentile’s accessories of idol worship, they are not forbidden until they are used for idol worship, so too here, in the case of a Jew’s accessories of idol worship, they are not forbidden until they are used for idol worship. Or perhaps the halakha is learned from the halakha with regard to a Jew’s object of idol worship itself. Just as the idol itself is prohibited immediately, so too its accessories are prohibited immediately.

מאי איריא דקא מיבעיא ליה ריתך כלי תיבעי ליה עשה

The Gemara rejects this explanation: If that is the explanation of Rav Hamnuna’s dilemma, why does he specifically raise the dilemma with regard to one who welded a broken vessel? Let him raise the dilemma with regard to one who fashioned a vessel for idolatrous worship.

רב המנונא משום טומאה ישנה קמיבעיא ליה דתנן כלי מתכות פשוטיהן ומקבליהן טמאין נשתברו טהרו חזר ועשאן כלים יחזרו לטומאה ישנה

The Gemara answers: Rav Hamnuna is referring to a vessel that was used for idol worship before it broke, and he is raising the dilemma with regard to the matter of previous ritual impurity. As we learned in a mishna (Kelim 11:1): With regard to metal vessels, both their flat vessels, which have no repositories, and their receptacles, vessels that have repositories, are all impure if they came into contact with a primary source of ritual impurity. If they broke, they thereby became purified. But if one remade the broken vessels into new vessels, they reassume their previous impurity.

והכי קמיבעיא ליה כי הדרא טומאה ה"מ לטומאה דאורייתא אבל טומאה דרבנן לא או דלמא ל"ש ותיבעי ליה שאר טומאות דרבנן

And this is the dilemma that Rav Hamnuna is raising: When the mishna teaches that a vessel that is remade reassumes its impurity, does this matter apply only to impurity by Torah law, but in the case of impurity by rabbinic law, such as the impurity of an object of idol worship, it does not apply? Or perhaps there is no difference between impurity by Torah law and impurity by rabbinic law. The Gemara asks: If that is the explanation of Rav Hamnuna’s dilemma, why does he specifically discuss a vessel used for idol worship? Let him raise the dilemma with regard to any other type of impurity by rabbinic law.

חדא מגו חדא קמיבעיא ליה טומאה דרבנן מי הדרא או לא הדרא את"ל לא הדרא טומאה דעבודת כוכבים משום חומרא דעבודת כוכבים מי שויוה רבנן כטומאה דאורייתא או לא תיקו

The Gemara answers: Rav Hamnuna is raising two dilemmas, one of which stems from the other. Is impurity by rabbinic law reassumed, or is it not reassumed? And if you say that it is not reassumed, what is the halakha with regard to the impurity of an object of idol worship? Did the Sages render its status like that of impurity by Torah law, due to the stringency of idol worship, or not? The Gemara concludes: The dilemmas shall stand unresolved.

בעי מיניה ר' יוחנן מר' ינאי תקרובת עבודת כוכבים של אוכלים מהו מי מהניא להו ביטול לטהרינהו מטומאה או לא

§ Rabbi Yoḥanan raised a dilemma to Rabbi Yannai: With regard to an offering consisting of food brought in idolatrous worship, what is the halakha? Is the revocation of their status as an object of idol worship by a gentile effective to purify them from the ritual impurity of an offering brought in idolatrous worship or is it not effective?

ותיבעי ליה כלים כלים לא קמיבעיא ליה כיון דאית להו טהרה במקוה טומאה נמי בטלה כי קמיבעיא ליה אוכלין

The Gemara suggests: And let him raise the dilemma with regard to whether revocation of vessels’ status purifies vessels used in idol worship from their impurity. The Gemara explains: Rabbi Yoḥanan does not raise the dilemma with regard to vessels, since they have the ability to attain purity by being immersed in a ritual bath, and therefore their impurity can certainly also be nullified. When he raises the dilemma, it is only with regard to food, which cannot be purified in a ritual bath.

ותיבעי ליה עבודת כוכבי' גופה עבודת כוכבים גופה לא מיבעיא ליה

The Gemara suggests: Let him raise the dilemma with regard to whether revoking its status purifies the object of idol worship itself in a case where it consists of food. The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yoḥanan does not raise the dilemma with regard to the object of idol worship itself,