אם עתידין לחזור כמלחמת יהושע אינה בטילה In any of these cases, if the owners will return in the future, as was the case in the war of Joshua when he conquered Eretz Yisrael, then the status of the object of idol worship is not revoked.
וצריכא דאי תנא לוה עליה מדלא זבנה לא בטלה אבל נפלה עליה מפולת מדלא קא מפני לה אימא בטולי בטלה צריכא The Gemara comments: And it is necessary for the baraita to state all of these cases. As, had the baraita taught only the case where the gentile borrowed money against the object of idol worship, one would say that in that case the gentile did not revoke its status, as he did not sell it, and he did not indicate that he intended to relinquish it. But in the case where a rockslide fell on it, since he did not clear the rocks, say that he revoked the status of the object of idol worship. It is therefore necessary to teach this case as well.
ואי תנא נפלה עליה מפולת משום דסבר הא מנחת כל אימת דבעינא לה שקילנא לה אבל גנבוה לסטים מדלא קא מהדר אבתרה בטולי בטלה צריכא And had the baraita taught only the case where a rockslide fell on the idol, one would say that in that case its status is not revoked because the owner thinks to himself: The idol lies under the rocks safely; whenever I want it, I shall take it, and he feels no need to clear the rockslide immediately. But in the case where robbers stole it, since he is not searching after it, this indicates that he revoked its status. It is therefore necessary to teach this case as well.
ואי תנא גנבוה לסטין משום דסבר אי עובד כוכבים שקיל לה מפלח פלח לה אי ישראל שקלה איידי דדמיה יקרין מזבין לה לעובד כוכבים ופלח לה אבל הניחוה הבעלים והלכו למדינת הים מדלא שקלו בהדייהו בטולי בטלוה צריכא And had the baraita taught only the case where robbers stole the idol, one would say that in that case its status is not revoked because the owner thinks to himself: If a gentile took it, he will worship it. If a Jew took it, since it is of great monetary value, he will sell it to a gentile and the buyer will worship it. There is therefore no indication that the gentile intends to revoke its status. But in the case where the owners abandoned the idol and went overseas, since they did not take it with them, this indicates that they revoked its status. It is therefore necessary to teach this case as well.
אם עתידין לחזור כמלחמת יהושע אינה בטילה מידי מלחמת יהושע מיהדר הדור ה"ק אם עתידין לחזור הרי הוא כמלחמת יהושע ואין לה בטילה The baraita states: If the owners will return in the future, as was the case in the war of Joshua when he conquered Eretz Yisrael, then the status of the object of idol worship is not revoked. The Gemara asks: Is it so, that after the war of Joshua the gentiles returned home? They were defeated and killed and did not return home. The Gemara explains: This is what the baraita is saying: If the owners will return in the future, the idol has the same status as did the idols of the gentiles killed in the war of Joshua, who intended to return and did not revoke the status of their idols, and therefore its status is not revoked.
ולמה לי למיתלייה במלחמת יהושע מלתא אגב אורחא קמ"ל כי הא דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ישראל שזקף לבינה להשתחות לה ובא עובד כוכבים והשתחוה לה אסרה The Gemara asks: And why should I associate this halakha with the war of Joshua? The Gemara answers: It teaches us a matter in passing, that the halakhot of idol worship may be derived from the war of Joshua, as may be illustrated by that which Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: In the case of a Jew who set a brick upright in order to bow to it but did not actually bow to it, and a gentile then came and bowed to it, the gentile rendered it prohibited even though it was not his brick.
מנלן דאסרה א"ר אלעזר כתחילה של א"י דאמר רחמנא (דברים יב, ג) ואשריהם תשרפון באש מכדי ירושה היא להם מאבותיהם ואין אדם אוסר דבר שאינו שלו The Gemara explains: From where do we derive that he rendered it prohibited? Rabbi Elazar says: This halakha is like the halakha that applied at the outset of the Jewish people’s conquest of Eretz Yisrael, when the Torah commanded them to destroy any trees that were used as part of idolatrous rites [asherim], as the Merciful One states: “And you shall break down their altars…and you shall burn their asherim with fire” (Deuteronomy 12:3). Now, Eretz Yisrael is the inheritance of the Jewish people from their ancestors, and a person does not render forbidden an item that is not his. If so, how could the gentiles render the trees forbidden, as the land was not theirs?
ואי משום הנך דמעיקרא בביטולא בעלמא סגי להו If the trees were forbidden because some of them might have been those trees that were worshipped initially, before God gave the land to Abraham, it would not have been necessary to destroy them. Rather, the Jews could have forced the gentiles to revoke their status, and since the asherim were objects of gentiles’ idol worship, a mere revocation would be sufficient to render them permitted.
אלא מדפלחו ישראל לעגל גלו אדעתייהו דניחא להו בעבודת כוכבים וכי אתו עובדי כוכבים שליחותא דידהו עבדי ה"נ ישראל שזקף לבינה גליא דעתיה דניחא ליה בעבודת כוכבים וכי אתא עובד כוכבים ופלח לה שליחותא דידיה קעביד Rather, since the Jewish people worshipped the Golden Calf, they revealed their intentions and indicated that they were amenable to idol worship. And when the gentiles came and engaged in idol worship, they were, in effect, carrying out their agency on behalf of the Jewish people. The asherim were therefore considered objects of Jews’ idol worship, whose status cannot be revoked. So too, in the case of a Jew who set a brick upright in order to bow to it, he thereby revealed his intentions and indicated that he is amenable to idol worship. And when a gentile came and worshipped it, he was carrying out the agency on behalf of the Jew.
ודלמא בעגל הוא דניחא להו במידי אחרינא לא אמר קרא (שמות לב, ד) אלה אלהיך ישראל מלמד שאיוו לאלוהות הרבה The Gemara challenges: But perhaps it is only with regard to the Golden Calf that the Jewish people were amenable to worshipping it, but not with regard to any other type of idol worship. The Gemara counters: The verse states with regard to the Golden Calf: “And they said: These are your gods, O Israel” (Exodus 32:4), in the plural. This teaches that they desired many gods, and they did not desire to worship only the Golden Calf.
אימא כל דבהדי עגל ניתסרו מכאן ואילך נישתרי מאן מוכח: The Gemara suggests: Say that whatever asherim were worshipped by the gentiles simultaneously with the Jewish people’s worship of the Golden Calf should be prohibited, because at that time they acted as agents of the Jewish people. But any ashera that was worshipped from that point forward, after the Jewish people repented and no longer engaged in idol worship, should be permitted. The Gemara answers: Who can prove when each ashera was worshipped? Since it is impossible to determine which asherim were worshipped at the time of the Golden Calf, they are all forbidden.
מתני׳ עבודת כוכבים שהניחוה עובדיה בשעת שלום מותרת בשעת מלחמה אסורה בימוסיאות של מלכים הרי אלו מותרות מפני שמעמידין אותה בשעה שהמלכים עוברים: MISHNA: With regard to an object of idol worship that was abandoned by its worshippers, if it was abandoned in peacetime, it is permitted, as it was evidently abandoned by choice and this constitutes an implicit revocation of its status as an object of idol worship. If it was abandoned in wartime, it is prohibited, as it was not abandoned by choice. With regard to the stone platforms of kings upon which idols are placed in honor of the kings, these are permitted, due to the fact that the idol is placed on these platforms only at the time that the kings pass by.
גמ׳ אמר רבי ירמיה בר אבא אמר רב בית נמרוד הרי היא כעבודת כוכבים שהניחוה עובדיה בשעת שלום ומותר אע"ג דכי בדרינהו רחמנא כשעת מלחמה דמי אי בעיא למיהדר הדור מדלא הדור בטולי בטלה: GEMARA: Rabbi Yirmeya bar Abba says that Rav says: The temple of Nimrod, i.e., the remnants of the tower of Babel (see Genesis 11:1–9), is considered a place of idol worship whose worshippers abandoned it in peacetime, and it is therefore permitted. This is despite the fact that when the Merciful One scattered the builders of the tower, the situation resembled wartime, as they were compelled to leave. Nevertheless, if they had desired to return, they could have returned. Since they did not return, they evidently chose to abandon the place of idol worship and thereby revoked its status.
בימוסיאות של מלכים הרי אלו מותרות: וכי מפני שמעמידין אותה בשעה שהמלכים עוברין מותרין § The mishna teaches: With regard to the stone platforms of kings, these are permitted, due to the fact that the idol is placed on these platforms only at the time that the kings pass by. The Gemara asks: But should the platforms be permitted because idols are placed on them at the time that the kings pass by?
אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן ה"ק מפני שמעמידין אותן בשעה שהמלכים עוברין ומלכים מניחין דרך זו והולכין בדרך אחרת Rabba bar bar Ḥana said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This is what the mishna is saying: The platforms are permitted because the idol is placed on them at the time that the kings pass by, and sometimes the kings abandon this path where the platform has been placed and choose to walk on a different path. Since the kings do not impart any importance to the platforms, they are not considered accessories of idol worship.
כי אתא עולא יתיב אבימסא פגימא א"ל רב יהודה לעולא והא רב ושמואל דאמרי תרוייהו בימוס שנפגם אסור ואפי' למ"ד אין עובדים לשברים ה"מ עבודת כוכבים דזילא ביה מלתא למפלח לשברים אבל האי לא איכפת ליה § When Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he sat on a damaged platform of idol worship. Rav Yehuda said to Ulla: But don’t Rav and Shmuel both say: A platform that was damaged remains prohibited? And even according to the one who says that idol worshippers do not worship fragments of idols, that statement applies only to an object of idol worship, as it is a degrading matter to a person to worship fragments. But in this case, with regard to the platform, it does not matter to him if it is damaged, as it is still fit for use.
א"ל מאן יהיב לן מעפרא דרב ושמואל ומלאינן עיינין הא רבי יוחנן ור"ל דאמרי תרוייהו בימוס שנפגם מותר ואפי' למ"ד עובדין לשברים ה"מ עבודת כוכבים דכיון דפלחה זילא ביה מילת' לבטולה אבל הני שקלי להאי ומייתו בימוס אחרינא Ulla said to Rav Yehuda: Who shall give us of the dust of the graves covering Rav and Shmuel? We would fill our eyes with that dust, as they were great and holy men. Nevertheless, with regard to the halakha in this case, don’t Rabbi Yoḥanan and Reish Lakish both say: A platform that was damaged is permitted? And even according to the one who says that idol worshippers worship fragments of idols, that statement applies only to an object of idol worship, due to the fact that since he already worshipped it, it is a degrading matter to him to revoke its status. But in the case of these platforms, idol worshippers take this platform and throw it away and bring another platform that is not defective to replace it.
תניא כוותיה דר' יוחנן ור"ל בימוס שנפגם מותר מזבח שנפגם אסור עד שינתץ רובו ה"ד בימוס ה"ד מזבח א"ר יעקב בר אידי אמר ר' יוחנן בימוס אבן אחת מזבח אבנים הרבה It is taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan and Reish Lakish: A platform that was damaged is permitted. Conversely, an altar of idol worship that was damaged remains prohibited until most of it is destroyed. What is considered a platform, and what is considered an altar? Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: A platform consists of one stone; an altar consists of many stones.