של חמשה ושל ששה ושל שמונה ושל שבעה לא יעשה אפי' של שאר מיני מתכות רבי יוסי בר יהודה אומר אף של עץ לא יעשה כדרך שעשו מלכי בית חשמונאי
a candelabrum of five or of six or of eight lamps. But one may not fashion a candelabrum with seven lamps even if he constructs it from other kinds of metal rather than gold, as in exigent circumstances the candelabrum in the Temple may be fashioned from other metals. Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda says: Also, one may not fashion a candelabrum of wood, in the manner that the kings of the Hasmonean monarchy fashioned it. When they first purified the Temple they had to prepare the candelabrum out of wood, as no other material was available. Since this candelabrum is fit for the Temple, it is prohibited to fashion one of this kind for oneself.
אמרו לו משם ראייה שפודין של ברזל היו וחיפום בבעץ העשירו עשאום של כסף חזרו העשירו עשאום של זהב
The other Sages said to Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda: From there you seek to bring a proof? There the branches of the candelabrum were comprised of spits [shippudin] of iron and they covered them with tin. Later, when they grew richer and could afford a candelabrum of higher-quality material, they fashioned them from silver. When they grew even richer, they fashioned them from gold. Still, Abaye proves from this baraita that the prohibition against forming an image applies only to items that can be reconstructed in an accurate manner. Since this is not possible in the case of the moon, Rabban Gamliel’s forms were permitted.
ושמשין שאי אפשר לעשות כמותן מי שרי והתניא (שמות כ, יט) לא תעשון אתי לא תעשון כדמות שמשיי המשמשין לפני במרום אמר אביי לא אסרה תורה אלא דמות ארבעה פנים בהדי הדדי
The Gemara asks: And is it really permitted to form images of those attendants concerning which it is impossible to reproduce their likeness? Isn’t it taught in a baraita that the verse: “You shall not make with Me gods of silver” (Exodus 20:19), comes to teach: You shall not make images of My attendants that serve before Me on high. Apparently, this includes the sun and the moon. Abaye said: This does not include the sun and the moon, as the Torah prohibited only the fashioning of an image of all four faces of the creatures of the Heavenly Chariot together (see Ezekiel, chapter 1). However, all other images, which are not the likeness of the ministering angels, are permitted.
אלא מעתה פרצוף אדם לחודיה תשתרי אלמה תניא כל הפרצופות מותרין חוץ מפרצוף אדם א"ר הונא בריה דרב אידי מפרקיה דאביי שמיעא לי לא תעשון אתי לא תעשון אותי
The Gemara raises a difficulty: However, if that is so, let the fashioning of an image of a human face [partzuf ] alone be permitted. Why, then, is it taught in a baraita: All faces are permitted for ornamental purposes, except for the face of a person? Rav Huna, son of Rav Idi, said: From a lecture of Abaye I heard that there is a different reason why one may not form an image of a human face, as the verse states: “You shall not make with Me [iti]” (Exodus 20:19). This can be read as: You shall not make Me [oti]. Since man is created in the image of God, it is prohibited to form an image of a human being.
ושאר שמשין מי שרי והא תניא לא תעשון אתי לא תעשון כדמות שמשיי המשמשין לפני במרום כגון אופנים ושרפים וחיות הקודש ומלאכי השרת אמר אביי לא אסרה תורה אלא שמשין שבמדור העליון
The Gemara asks: And is it permitted to form images of other attendants? Isn’t it taught in another baraita that the verse: “You shall not make with Me gods of silver” (Exodus 20:19), teaches that you shall not make images of My attendants that serve before Me on high, for example, ofanim and seraphim and the sacred ḥayyot and the ministering angels. Abaye said: The Torah prohibited only those attendants that are found in the upper Heaven, i.e., the supreme angels in the highest firmament, but not the celestial bodies, e.g., the sun and the moon, despite the fact that they too are located in heaven.
ושבמדור התחתון מי שרי והתניא (שמות כ, ג) אשר בשמים לרבות חמה ולבנה כוכבים ומזלות ממעל לרבות מלאכי השרת כי תניא ההיא לעבדם
The Gemara raises another difficulty: And is it permitted to form images of those bodies found in the lower heaven? Isn’t it taught in a baraita: “You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:3). The phrase “that is in heaven” comes to include the sun, the moon, the stars, and the constellations. The term “above” serves to include the ministering angels. Apparently, it is prohibited to form an image even of the celestial bodies found in the lower Heaven. The Gemara answers: When that baraita is taught, it is in reference to the prohibition against worshipping them. However, there is no prohibition against forming an image in their likeness.
אי לעבדם אפילו שלשול קטן נמי אין ה"נ דתניא (שמות כ, ג) אשר בארץ לרבות הרים וגבעות ימים ונהרות אפיקים וגאיות מתחת לרבות שלשול קטן
The Gemara asks: If that baraita is referring to the prohibition against worshipping them, then even a tiny worm should also be prohibited. The Gemara answers: Yes, it is indeed so, as it is taught in the same baraita with regard to the continuation of the verse, “in the earth” comes to include mountains and hills, seas and rivers, streams and valleys; “beneath” comes to include a tiny worm. If so, it is indeed possible to explain that the entire baraita is referring to the prohibition against idol worship.
ועשייה גרידתא מי שרי והתניא לא תעשון אתי לא תעשון כדמות שמשיי המשמשין לפני כגון חמה ולבנה כוכבים ומזלות
The Gemara raises yet another objection: And is the mere fashioning of images of the celestial bodies permitted? Isn’t it taught in another baraita: “You shall not make with Me gods of silver” (Exodus 20:19). This verse teaches that you shall not make images of My attendants that serve before Me, for example the sun, the moon, the stars and the constellations. This is explicit proof that it is prohibited to form images of the sun and the moon; consequently, the solution proposed by Abaye is rejected, leaving the difficulty with Rabban Gamliel’s diagram unresolved.
שאני ר"ג דאחרים עשו לו והא רב יהודה דאחרים עשו לו וא"ל שמואל לרב יהודה שיננא סמי עיניה דדין
The Gemara proposes an alternative resolution: The case of Rabban Gamliel is different, as others, i.e., gentiles, fashioned those images for him, and it is prohibited only for a Jew to fashion such images; there is no prohibition against having them in one’s possession. The Gemara raises a difficulty: But there is the case of Rav Yehuda, as others fashioned for him a seal in the form of a human being, and Shmuel said to Rav Yehuda, who was his student: Sharp-witted one, blind this one’s eyes, i.e., disfigure the image, as it is prohibited even to have the image of a human being in one’s possession.
התם חותמו בולט הוה ומשום חשדא כדתניא טבעת חותמו בולט אסור להניחה ומותר לחתום בה חותמו שוקע מותר להניחה ואסור לחתום בה
The Gemara answers: There, in the case of Rav Yehuda, his was a protruding seal, i.e., the image projected from the ring, and Shmuel prohibited it due to the potential suspicion that he had an object of idol worship in his hand. As it is taught in a baraita: With regard to a ring, if its seal protrudes it is prohibited to place it on one’s finger, due to the suspicion of idol worship, but it is permitted to seal objects with it. In this case, the act of sealing creates an image that is sunken below the surface, which is not prohibited. However, if its seal is sunken, it is permitted to place it on one’s finger, but it is prohibited to seal objects with it, as that creates a protruding image.
ומי חיישינן לחשדא והא ההיא בי כנישתא דשף ויתיב בנהרדעא דהוה ביה אנדרטא והוו עיילי רב ושמואל ואבוה דשמואל ולוי ומצלו התם ולא חיישי לחשדא רבים שאני
The Gemara asks: And are we concerned about arousing suspicion in a case of this kind? But what about that certain synagogue that had been destroyed in Eretz Yisrael and its stones were relocated and it was rebuilt so that it sat in Neharde’a, and there was a statue [andarta] of the king in it. And nevertheless Rav and Shmuel and Shmuel’s father and Levi would all enter and pray there and they were not concerned about arousing suspicion. The Gemara answers: When many Jews are present it is different, as a large group is not suspected of having idolatrous intentions. Rather, it is assumed that the statue is there exclusively for purposes of ornamentation.
והא ר"ג יחיד הוא כיון דנשיא הוא שכיחי רבים גביה איבעית אימא דפרקים הוה
The Gemara asks: But isn’t Rabban Gamliel an individual? According to this reasoning, his images of the moon should have been prohibited, as they would have aroused suspicion. The Gemara answers: Since he is the Nasi, the head of the Great Sanhedrin, many people were always found with him, and therefore there was no room for suspicion. The Gemara suggests an alternative answer: If you wish, say that these images were not whole; rather, they were formed from pieces of images that had to be put together. Only complete images are prohibited.
ואיבעית אימא להתלמד עבד וכתיב (דברים יח, ט) לא תלמד לעשות אבל אתה למד להבין ולהורות:
The Gemara suggests yet another answer: If you wish, say: Rabban Gamliel did this to teach himself, which is not prohibited, as it is written: “You shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9), which indicates: However, you may learn to understand and to teach. In other words, it is permitted to do certain things for the sake of Torah study which would otherwise be prohibited.
מתני׳ מעשה שבאו שנים ואמרו ראינוהו שחרית במזרח
MISHNA: There was an incident in which two witnesses came to testify about the new moon, and they said: We saw the waning moon in the morning in the east,