Avodah Zarah 55aעבודה זרה נ״ה א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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55aנ״ה א

(צפניה א, ב) אסוף אסף כל מעל פני האדמה נאם ה' אסף אדם ובהמה אסף עוף השמים ודגי הים והמכשלות את הרשעים [וגו'] וכי מפני שהרשעים נכשלים בהן יאבדם מן העולם והלא לאדם הן עובדין (צפניה א, ג) והכרתי את האדם מעל פני האדמה [וגו']

“Shall I utterly consume all things from off the face of the earth? says the Lord. Shall I consume man and beast? Shall I consume the fowls of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks of the wicked, and shall I cut off man from off the face of the earth? says the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:2–3). Should God remove objects of idol worship from the world due to the fact that the wicked stumble because of them? If so, He would have to destroy all of humanity as well, as do not idol worshippers also worship people? This is expressed in the continuation of the verse: “And shall I cut off man from off the face of the earth? says the Lord.”

שאל אגריפס שר צבא את ר"ג כתיב בתורתכם (דברים ד, כד) כי ה' אלהיך אש אכלה הוא אל קנא כלום מתקנא אלא חכם בחכם וגבור בגבור ועשיר בעשיר

§ Agrippas the general asked Rabban Gamliel: It is written in your Torah with regard to idol worship: “For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). Doesn’t jealousy arise only in the following cases: A wise man might be jealous of another wise man, and a mighty man might be jealous of another mighty man, and a rich man might be jealous of another rich man? If so, why is God jealous of objects of idol worship, which are not gods?

אמר לו אמשול לך משל למה"ד לאדם שנשא אשה על אשתו חשובה ממנה אין מתקנאה בה פחותה ממנה מתקנאה בה

Rabban Gamliel said to Agrippas: I will relate a parable to you. To what is this matter comparable? It can be compared to a person who married a second wife in addition to his first wife. If the second wife is more distinguished than the first wife, the first wife is not jealous of her, and she does not feel anger toward her husband. But if the second wife is less distinguished than the first wife, she is jealous of her.

א"ל זונין לר"ע לבי ולבך ידע דעבודת כוכבים לית בה מששא והא קחזינן גברי דאזלי כי מתברי ואתו כי מצמדי מ"ט

Zunin said to Rabbi Akiva: Both my heart and your heart know that there is no substance to idol worship. Nevertheless, don’t we see people who go with broken limbs to worship idols and come back when they are whole? What is the reason for this?

אמר לו אמשול לך משל למה"ד לאדם נאמן שהיה בעיר וכל בני עירו היו מפקידין אצלו שלא בעדים ובא אדם אחד והפקיד לו בעדים פעם אחד שכח והפקיד אצלו שלא בעדים אמרה לו אשתו בוא ונכפרנו אמר לה וכי מפני ששוטה זה עשה שלא כהוגן אנו נאבד את אמונתינו

Rabbi Akiva said to Zunin: I will relate a parable to you. To what is this matter comparable? It can be compared to a trusted person who was in a certain city, and all the residents of his city would deposit items and money with him, even not in the presence of witnesses. And there was one man who did not trust him, who came and specifically deposited money with him in the presence of witnesses. On one occasion, that person forgot and deposited money with him not in the presence of witnesses. The trusted man’s wife said to him: Come, let us deny that he deposited the money with us, as there are no witnesses. The man said to her: Should we lose our credibility and act deceitfully just because this fool acted improperly and did not require the presence of witnesses?

אף כך יסורין בשעה שמשגרין אותן על האדם משביעין אותן שלא תלכו אלא ביום פלוני ולא תצאו אלא ביום פלוני ובשעה פלונית ועל ידי פלוני ועל ידי סם פלוני כיון שהגיע זמנן לצאת הלך זה לבית עבודת כוכבים אמרו יסורין דין הוא שלא נצא וחוזרין ואומרים וכי מפני ששוטה זה עושה שלא כהוגן אנו נאבד שבועתנו

So too, with regard to different forms of suffering, at the time when they are sent to afflict the person, an oath is administered to them as follows: Take an oath that you shall not go and afflict the person except on such and such a day. And you shall not leave him except on such and such a day, at such and such an hour, by means of so-and-so, a specific doctor, and by means of such and such a medicine. When the time came for the suffering to leave him, this sick man went to a temple of idol worship. The forms of suffering said: By right we should not leave him. But then they say: Should we lose the fulfillment of our oath just because this fool is acting improperly?

והיינו דא"ר יוחנן מאי דכתיב (דברים כח, נט) וחלים רעים ונאמנים רעים בשליחותן ונאמנים בשבועתן

And this is consistent with that which Rabbi Yoḥanan says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Then the Lord will make your plagues wonderful, and the plagues of your seed, even great plagues and faithful, and evil and faithful sicknesses” (Deuteronomy 28:59)? The term “evil” does not mean that the agent of sickness is in itself evil. Rather, this is referring to its mission, which is to cause harm. The term “and faithful sicknesses” indicates that the illnesses are faithful to their oath and adhere to the times designated for the affliction.

א"ל רבא בר רב יצחק לרב יהודה האיכא בית עבודת כוכבים באתרין דכי מצטריך עלמא למטרא מתחזי להו בחלמא ואמר להו שחטו לי גברא ואייתי מטרא שחטו לה גברא ואתי מטרא

Rava bar Rav Yitzḥak said to Rav Yehuda: Isn’t there a temple of idol worship in our locale, where, when the world is in need of rain, the idol appears to them in a dream, and it says to them: Slaughter a man as an offering to me, and I will bring rain. They then slaughter a man for it, and the rain comes.

א"ל השתא אי הוי שכיבנא לא אמרי לכו הא מלתא דאמר רב מאי דכתיב (דברים ד, יט) אשר חלק ה' אלהיך אותם לכל העמים מלמד שהחליקן בדברים כדי לטורדן מן העולם

Rav Yehuda said to Rava bar Rav Yitzḥak: Now, were I dead I would not have been able to tell you the explanation of this matter. It is therefore good that you reminded me of this matter while I am alive. The explanation is as Rav says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And lest you lift up your eyes to the heavens, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heavens, you are drawn away and worship them, and serve them, which the Lord your God has allotted [ḥalak] to all the nations under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19). The verse teaches that God allowed the nations to be misled [sheheḥelikan] by matters that seemingly indicate that idol worship is effective in order to expel the nations from the world due to their decision to engage in idol worship.

והיינו דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (משלי ג, לד) אם ללצים הוא יליץ ולענוים יתן חן בא לטמא פותחין לו בא לטהר מסייעין אותו:

And this is consistent with that which Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “If it concerns the scornful, He scorns them, but to the humble He gives grace” (Proverbs 3:34)? One who comes in order to become impure, i.e., to sin, they, in Heaven, provide him with an opening to do so, and he is not prevented from sinning. If one comes in order to become purified, not only is he allowed to do so, but they, in Heaven, assist him.

מתני׳ לוקחין גת בעוטה מן העובד כוכבים אף על פי שהוא נוטל בידו ונותן לתפוח ואינו עושה יין נסך עד שירד לבור ירד לבור מה שבבור אסור והשאר מותר

MISHNA: One may purchase from a gentile a winepress in which the grapes have been trodden on, despite the fact that the gentile takes grapes in his hand from the winepress and places them on the pile that remains to be trodden on. And the gentile’s touch does not render the juice of the grapes wine used for a libation in idol worship, which is forbidden, until it descends into the collection vat, because until then it does not have the status of wine. Once the wine descended into the collection vat, that which is in the vat is prohibited, and the rest, which did not yet descend into the vat, is permitted.

דורכין עם העובד כוכבים בגת

One may tread on grapes together with the gentile in the winepress,