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Today's Daf Yomi

September 17, 2017 | כ״ו באלול תשע״ז

  • This month's learning is sponsored by Ron and Shira Krebs to commemorate the 73rd yahrzeit of Shira's grandfather (Yitzchak Leib Ben David Ber HaCohen v'Malka), the 1st yahrzeit of Shira's father (Gershon Pinya Ben Yitzchak Leib HaCohen v'Menucha Sara), and the bar mitzvah of their son Eytan who will be making a siyum on Mishna Shas this month.

  • This month's learning is sponsored for the refuah shleima of Naama bat Yael Esther.

Sanhedrin 63

If one does various forbidden acts to another god and doesn’t know that it is forbidden and then finds out, is one obligated to bring several sin offerings for each act or is it all considered one act? Does one get lashes for acts that he does relating to idols mentioned in the mishna for which one does not receive the death penalty?  Is one allowed to mention the name of other gods or cause others (non Jews) to swear in the name of other gods?  Can one go into a partnership with an idol worshipper?

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אמר רבי אמי זיבח וקיטר וניסך בהעלם אחד אינו חייב אלא אחת אמר אביי מאי טעמא דרבי אמי אמר קרא לא תעבדם הכתוב עשאן כולן עבודה אחת

Rabbi Ami says: If one sacrificed an animal as an idolatrous offering and burned incense and poured a libation, all in the course of one lapse of awareness, he is obligated to bring only one sin-offering. Abaye says: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Ami? The verse states: “Nor worship them” (Exodus 20:5). The verse renders all the various rites of worship as one rite.

ומי אמר אביי הכי והאמר אביי שלש השתחואות בעבודה זרה למה

The Gemara asks: And does Abaye actually say this? But doesn’t Abaye say: Why are there three mentions in the Torah of the prohibition against bowing to an object of idol worship? The prohibition against bowing to an idol appears three times: “You shall not bow to them nor worship them” (Exodus 20:5), “You shall not bow to their gods nor worship them” (Exodus 23:24), and “For you shall bow to no other god” (Exodus 34:14).

אחת לכדרכה ואחת שלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

The reason is that one mention is for an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship, and one mention is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if bowing is not its standard manner of worship, and one mention is to divide idol worship into categories, as one is obligated to bring an offering for every type of worship that he performed. Evidently, Abaye’s opinion is not in accordance with Rabbi Ami’s statement that one is obligated to bring one sin-offering for all of his acts of idol worship.

לדבריו דרבי אמי קאמר וליה לא סבירא ליה

The Gemara answers: Abaye stated his reason in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Ami, but he himself does not hold accordingly.

גופא אמר אביי שלש השתחואות בעבודה זרה למה אחת לכדרכה ואחת שלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

The Gemara discusses the matter itself that Abaye says: Why are there three mentions of the prohibition against bowing to an object of idol worship? One is for an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship, and one is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if bowing is not its standard manner of worship, and one mention is to divide idol worship into categories.

לכדרכה מאיכה יעבדו הגוים האלה נפקא

The Gemara asks: Why is a verse necessary for the prohibition against bowing to an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship? That prohibition is already derived from the verse: “Take heed to yourself that you not be ensnared to follow them…saying, how do these nations serve their gods, so I will do likewise” (Deuteronomy 12:30), which indicates that one is liable for worshipping an idol in the manner that the gentiles worship it.

אלא אחת כדרכה ושלא כדרכה ואחת לשלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

Rather, Abaye’s statement should be understood as follows: One mention of the prohibition is for an idol for which its typical manner of worship is similar to bowing in that the idol is worshipped in an honorable manner, but bowing is not its typical manner of worship, as it is not typically worshipped by bowing. And one mention is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if it is not similar to its standard manner of worship at all. And one mention is to divide idol worship into categories.

המקבלו עליו באלוה האומר לו ׳אלי אתה׳ אמר רב נחמן אמר רבה בר אבוה אמר רב כיון שאמר לו אלי אתה חייב

§ The mishna includes among those liable for idol worship one who declares that he accepts an idol upon himself as a god and one who says to an idol: You are my god. Rav Naḥman says that Rabba bar Avuh says that Rav says: Once a person said to an idol: You are my god, he is liable even if he did not worship it.

למאי אי לקטלא מתניתין היא אלא לקרבן

The Gemara asks: The transgressor is liable to receive what punishment? If he is liable to receive the death penalty, Rav’s statement is superfluous, as this is stated in the mishna. Rather, Rav means that one who does so unwittingly is obligated to bring an offering.

ואפילו לרבנן והתניא אינו חייב אלא על דבר שיש בו מעשה כגון זיבוח וקיטור וניסוך והשתחואה ואמר ריש לקיש מאן תנא השתחואה רבי עקיבא היא דאמר לא בעינן מעשה מכלל דרבנן סברי בעינן מעשה

The Gemara asks: And is this statement true even according to the opinion of the Rabbis? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: One is obligated to bring a sin-offering for unwitting idol worship only for a matter, a transgression, that involves an action, e.g., sacrificing an offering, or burning incense, or pouring a libation, or bowing? And Reish Lakish says: Who is the tanna who taught bowing among these examples? It is Rabbi Akiva, who says that we do not require a significant action in order to render one liable to bring a sin-offering; a minimal action is sufficient. By inference, the Rabbis, who disagree with Rabbi Akiva, maintain that we require a significant action. If bowing is not considered a significant action, then all the more so speech alone is not considered a significant action.

כי קאמר רב נמי לרבי עקיבא קאמר

The Gemara answers: Rav, too, when he states that one who says to an idol: You are my god, is obligated to bring a sin-offering, he states this according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva.

לרבי עקיבא פשיטא היינו מגדף

The Gemara asks: If Rav states this according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, isn’t it obvious that the transgressor is obligated to bring a sin-offering? This is identical to the halakha of a blasphemer, whom Rabbi Akiva obligates to bring an offering despite the lack of an action.

מהו דתימא עד כאן לא מחייב רבי עקיבא קרבן אלא במגדף דכתיב ביה כרת אבל הכא דלא כתיב ביה כרת אימא לא

The Gemara answers: Rav states this lest you say that Rabbi Akiva obligates one to bring an offering for a transgression that does not involve an action only in the case of a blasphemer, as it is written explicitly with regard to a blasphemer that he receives karet in the verse: “He blasphemes the Lord, and that soul shall be excised [nikhreta] from among his people” (Numbers 15:30). But here, with regard to one who accepts an idol as his god, where karet is not written explicitly, one might say that he is not obligated to bring an offering.

קא משמע לן דאתקושי אתקוש דכתיב וישתחוו לו ויזבחו לו ויאמרו וגו׳

Therefore, Rav teaches us that he is obligated to bring an offering, as the Torah compares the acceptance of an idol as a god to a case of active idol worship; as it is written: “They have made themselves a molten calf, and have bowed to it, and have sacrificed to it, and said: These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:8).

אמר רבי יוחנן אלמלא ויו שבהעלוך נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כלייה

With regard to the aforementioned verse, Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Were it not for the vav in the term: “Which brought you up [he’elukha],” giving it a plural form, the haters of the Jewish people, a euphemism used to refer to the Jewish people themselves, would have been sentenced to destruction for their idol worship. Since they recognized that God had taken them out of Egypt, and thought that He had merely made the golden calf His partner, the Jewish people were spared.

כתנאי אחרים אומרים אלמלא ויו שב׳העלוך׳ נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כלייה

The Gemara comments: Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion is like one side of the following dispute between tanna’im: Others say: Were it not for the vav in the term: “Which brought you up [he’elukha],” the haters of the Jewish people would have been sentenced to destruction.

אמר לו רבי שמעון בן יוחאי והלא כל המשתף שם שמים ודבר אחר נעקר מן העולם שנאמר ׳בלתי לה׳ לבדו׳ אלא מה תלמוד לומר ׳אשר העלוך׳ שאיוו אלוהות הרבה

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai to him: But isn’t anyone who links the name of Heaven and something else, a euphemism for an idol, uprooted from the world? As it is stated: “He who sacrifices to the gods, save to the Lord only, shall be utterly destroyed” (Exodus 22:19). The fact that the Jewish people included God in their idolatrous statement could not have saved them from destruction. Rather, what is the meaning when the verse states: “Which brought you up” in the plural? The verse teaches that the Jewish people desired many gods; they were not satisfied with the golden calf alone.

אבל המגפף והמנשק המכבד והמרבץ כו׳ כי אתא רב דימי אמר רבי אלעזר על כולם לוקה חוץ מהנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו

§ The mishna teaches: But with regard to one who hugs an idol, or one who kisses it, or one who cleans it, or one who sprays water before it, he transgresses a prohibition but is not liable to receive capital punishment. When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Elazar says: For all of these actions one is flogged, with the exception of the cases stated later in the mishna of one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name.

מאי שנא הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו דלא לקי משום דהוה ליה לאו שאין בו מעשה הני נמי לאו שבכללות הוא ואין לוקין על לאו שבכללות

The Gemara asks: What is different about these cases, one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name, that the transgressors are not flogged? It is because they are each an example of a prohibition that does not involve an action. These actions too, namely, hugging or kissing an idol and the like, are not punishable by lashes; one who performs them violates a general prohibition, and one is not flogged for violating a general prohibition, i.e., one that contains several prohibitions.

דתניא מנין לאוכל מן הבהמה קודם שתצא נפשה שהוא בלא תעשה תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

As this principle is taught in a baraita: From where is it derived that one who eats from an animal before its soul departs is in transgression of a prohibition? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood” (Leviticus 19:26), meaning, you shall not eat from the animal while its soul, which is referred to in the Torah as blood, is still within it.

דבר אחר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳ לא תאכלו בשר ועדין דם במזרק

The baraita adds: Another matter is derived from the verse “You shall not eat with the blood”: You shall not eat the meat of an offering while its blood is still in the bowl, as it has not yet been sprinkled on the altar. The meat of an offering may be eaten by the priests only after its blood is sprinkled.

רבי דוסא אומר מניין שאין מברין על הרוגי בית דין תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

The baraita continues: Rabbi Dosa says: From where is it derived that although in general, after a deceased person is buried, the mourners are provided by others with a meal, others do not provide the mourners with a meal after the burial of those executed by the court? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood,” which is interpreted to mean: You shall not eat a mourners’ meal after the burial of one who was executed.

רבי עקיבא אומר מנין לסנהדרין שהרגו את הנפש שאין טועמין כלום כל אותו היום תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

Rabbi Akiva says: From where is it derived with regard to a Sanhedrin that killed a soul, i.e., that sentenced a person to death, that the judges may not taste anything that entire day that they sentenced him? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood.”

אמר רבי יוחנן אזהרה לבן סורר ומורה מנין תלמוד לומר לא תאכלו על הדם

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: From where is the prohibition against the behavior of a stubborn and rebellious son derived? While the Torah states the punishment given to a stubborn and rebellious son, the prohibition against his actions, namely, stealing money from his parents in order to eat a gluttonous meal of meat and wine in the company of lowly men, is not explicit. The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood,” which is interpreted to mean that one may not eat in a manner that is punishable by death. This concludes the baraita.

ואמר רבי אבין בר חייא ואיתימא רבי אבין בר כהנא על כולם אינו לוקה משום דהוה ליה לאו שבכללות

And Rabbi Avin bar Ḥiyya says, and some say it is Rabbi Avin bar Kahana who says this: For all of the prohibitions that the Sages derive from this verse, one is not flogged for transgressing them, as it is a general prohibition that is referring to several different actions. Therefore, since the prohibition against hugging or kissing an idol is also derived from a general prohibition, it should not be punishable by lashes, contrary to the opinion of Rav Dimi.

אלא כי אתא רבין אמר רבי אלעזר על כולן אינו לוקה חוץ מן הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו

Rather, when Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he related a different version of what Rabbi Elazar says: For all of the transgressions listed in the mishna one is not flogged, with the exception of one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name.

מאי שנא אהנך דלא לקי דהוה ליה לאו שבכללות הני נמי לאו שאין בו מעשה נינהו

The Gemara asks: What is different about transgressing those prohibitions for which one is not flogged? It is that they are each an example of a general prohibition, as explained previously. These cases too, namely, one who vows or takes an oath in the name of an idol, are included in a prohibition that does not involve an action, and therefore the transgressors are not punishable by lashes.

ההוא כרבי יהודה דאמר לאו שאין בו מעשה לוקין עליו

The Gemara answers: That halakha of Rabbi Eliezer’s is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who says with regard to a prohibition that does not involve an action that one is flogged for violating it.

דתניא ׳לא תותירו ממנו עד בקר׳ בא הכתוב ליתן עשה אחר לא תעשה

As it is taught in a baraita with regard to the Paschal offering: The verse states: “And you shall not leave any of it until morning; but that which remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire” (Exodus 12:10). The verse comes to provide a positive mitzva to burn the leftover meat after the prohibition against leaving it over was violated,

לומר שאין לוקין עליו דברי רבי יהודה

to say that one is not flogged for transgressing the prohibition, as any prohibition that can be rectified by the performance of a positive mitzva does not carry a punishment of lashes. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda.

רבי יעקב אומר לא מן השם הוא זה אלא משום דהוה ליה לאו שאין בו מעשה וכל לאו שאין בו מעשה אין לוקין עליו

Rabbi Ya’akov says: This is not for that reason. Rather, it is because it is a prohibition that does not involve an action. The transgression is simply the failure to consume all the meat during the allotted time rather than the performance of an action. And one is not flogged for the violation of any prohibition that does not involve an action.

מכלל דרבי יהודה סבר לוקין עליו

The Gemara concludes: By inference, Rabbi Yehuda holds that in general, one is flogged for the violation of a prohibition that does not involve an action. It can therefore be inferred that one who vows or takes an oath in the name of an idol is liable to be flogged according to Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion, even though no action is involved.

הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו הרי זה בלא תעשה הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו מנלן

§ The mishna teaches with regard to one who vows in the name of an idol and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name, that this person is in transgression of a prohibition. The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that one who vows in the name of an idol and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name transgresses a prohibition?

דתניא ׳ושם אלהים אחרים לא תזכירו׳ שלא יאמר אדם לחבירו ׳שמור לי בצד עבודה זרה פלונית׳ ׳לא ישמע על פיך׳ שלא ידור בשמו ולא יקיים בשמו ולא יגרום לאחרים שידרו בשמו ושיקיימו בשמו

The Gemara answers: As it is taught in a baraita that the meaning of the verse: “And make no mention of the name of the other gods, neither let it be heard out of your mouth” (Exodus 23:13), is that a person may not say to another: Wait for me next to such and such an object of idol worship. The meaning of the statement “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” is that one may not vow in the name of an idol, nor affirm his statement by an oath in its name, nor cause others, i.e., gentiles, to vow in its name or affirm their statements by an oath in its name.

דבר אחר ׳לא ישמע על פיך׳ אזהרה למסית ולמדיח

Alternatively, the statement “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” can be interpreted as a prohibition against one who incites another to worship idols and against one who subverts an entire city to do so. The prohibition against inciting others to engage in idol worship can be derived from this verse.

מסית בהדיא כתיב ביה וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו וגו׳ אלא אזהרה למדיח

The Gemara asks: Why must the prohibition against an inciter be derived from here? It is written explicitly in that regard, in the verse concerning the inciter’s punishment: “And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more of any such wickedness as this is in your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:12). This is clearly a prohibition against inciting others to worship idols. Rather, the verse “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” is a prohibition against one who subverts an entire city to engage in idol worship; this prohibition is not stated elsewhere.

ולא יגרום לאחרים שידרו בשמו ושיקיימו בשמו מסייעא ליה לאבוה דשמואל דאמר אבוה דשמואל אסור לאדם שיעשה שותפות עם הנכרי שמא יתחייב לו שבועה ונשבע בעבודה זרה שלו והתורה אמרה לא ישמע על פיך

The baraita teaches: And one may not cause others, i.e., gentiles, to vow in the name of an idol or affirm their statements by an oath in its name. The Gemara comments: The baraita supports the opinion of Shmuel’s father, as Shmuel’s father says: It is prohibited for a person to enter into a partnership with a gentile, lest their joint ventures lead them to quarrel, and his gentile partner will be obligated to take an oath to him, and he will take an oath in the name of his object of idol worship; and the Torah states: “Neither let it be heard out of your mouth,” which includes causing a gentile to take an oath in the name of an idol.

כי אתא עולא בת בקלנבו אמר ליה רבא והיכא בת מר אמר ליה בקלנבו אמר ליה והכתיב ׳ושם אלהים אחרים לא תזכירו׳ אמר ליה הכי אמר רבי יוחנן כל עבודה זרה הכתובה בתורה מותר להזכיר שמה והא היכא כתיבא דכתיב ׳כרע בל קרס נבו׳

When Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he lodged in a place called Kalnevo. Rava said to him: And where did the Master lodge? Ulla said to him: In Kalnevo. Rava said to him: But isn’t it written: “And make no mention of the name of the other gods”? Kalnevo is the name of an idol. Ulla said to him: This is what Rabbi Yoḥanan said: With regard to any object of idol worship that is written in the Torah, it is permitted to mention its name. Since one may mention the idol while reading the Torah, it is permitted to mention it altogether. Rava asked: And where is this idol written? Ulla answered: As it is written: “Bel bows down, Nevo stoops” (Isaiah 46:1).

ואי לא כתיבא לא מתיב רב משרשיא ראה אחת מרובה כשלש שהיא כמגדיון לשילה שהן שתי טבילות ושני ספוגין הרי זה זב גמור אמר רבינא גד נמי מכתב כתיב דכתיב הערכים לגד שלחן

The Gemara asks: And does this mean that if an idol is not written in the Torah, it is not permitted to mention its name? Rav Mesharshiyya raises an objection to this premise from a mishna in tractate Zavim (1:5): If a man saw, i.e., experienced, one gonorrhea-like discharge that lasted as long as three regular gonorrhea-like discharges, which is like the amount of time it takes to walk from the location of the idol Gadyon to Shiloh, which is the amount of time it takes to perform two immersions and two dryings with a towel, he is ritually impure with the impurity status of a full-fledged zav, even though a man generally becomes a zav only after three separate discharges. In any event, the mishna mentions the idol Gadyon. Ravina says: The idol Gad is also written in the Bible; as it is written: “That prepare a table for Gad” (Isaiah 65:11).

אמר רב נחמן כל ליצנותא אסירא חוץ מליצנותא דעבודה זרה דשריא דכתיב כרע בל קרס נבו קרסו כרעו יחדו לא יכלו מלט משא

§ Rav Naḥman says: All types of mockery are forbidden, except for mockery of idol worship, which is permitted, as it is written: “Bel crouches down, Nevo stoops…they stoop, they crouch down together, they could not hold back the burden” (Isiah 46:1–2). The verse is interpreted as meaning that they crouch in order to defecate and cannot retain their excrement.

וכתיב דברו לעגלות בית און יגורו שכן שמרון כי אבל עליו עמו וכמריו עליו יגילו על כבודו כי גלה ממנו אל תקרי כבודו אלא כבידו

And it is similarly written: “They speak…the inhabitants of Samaria shall be in dread for the calves of Beth Aven; for its people shall mourn over it, and its priests shall tremble for it, for its glory [kevodo], because it has departed from it” (Hosea 10:4–5). Do not read it as “its glory [kevodo]”; rather, read it as its burden [keveido], meaning that the idol is unable to restrain itself from defecating. These are examples of derogatory statements that are permitted only in reference to idols.

אמר רבי יצחק מאי דכתיב ועתה יוספו לחטא ויעשו להם מסכה מכספם כתבונם עצבים וגו׳ מאי כתבונם עצבים מלמד שכל אחד ואחד עשה דמות יראתו ומניחה בכיסו בשעה שזוכרה מוציאה מתוך חיקו ומחבקה ומנשקה

Rav Yitzḥak says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And now they continue to sin, and have made for themselves molten images of their silver, according to their own understanding, idols, all of them the work of the craftsmen; of them they say: Those who sacrifice men kiss calves” (Hosea 13:2)? What is the meaning of the expression: “According to their own understanding [kitvunam], idols”? The word kitvunam is interpreted as meaning: According to their image [ketavnitam], and the verse teaches that each and every person would make an image of his god and place it in his pocket. When he would remember it, he would remove it from his bosom and embrace it and kiss it.

מאי זבחי אדם עגלים ישקון אמר רבי יצחק דבי רבי אמי שהיו כומרים נותנים עיניהם בבעלי ממון ומרעיבים את העגלים ועושין דמות עצבים ומעמידין בצד אבוסיהן ומוציאין אותן לחוץ כיון שראו אותן רצין אחריהן וממשמשין בהן אומרים לו עבודה זרה חפץ בך יבא ויזבח עצמו לו

What is the meaning of the statement: “Those who sacrifice men kiss calves”? Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: It means that priests of idol worship would set their eyes on the wealthy, and they would starve the calves that were objects of idol worship, and make statues in the image of those wealthy people, and place those statues next to the troughs of the calves, and they would take those calves outside. When the calves would see those wealthy people, whose image they were used to seeing near their troughs, they would run after them and paw them. At this point the priests would say to that wealthy person: The object of idol worship, the calf, desires you; let the Master come and sacrifice himself to it. The priests would inherit his property.

אמר רבא האי זבחי אדם עגלים ישקון עגלים ישקון לזבח אדם מיבעי ליה אלא אמר רבא כל הזובח את בנו לעבודה זרה אמר לו דורון גדול הקריב לו יבא וישק לו

Rava says: That is not the correct interpretation of the verse, as the wording “those who sacrifice men kiss calves” is unsuitable for that interpretation, since in that case the verse should have stated: They make calves kiss to sacrifice men. Rather, Rava says that the verse is to be understood as follows: Whenever anyone sacrifices his son to an object of idol worship, the priest says to him: The Master has sacrificed a great gift [doron] to the idol; therefore, he has the right to come and kiss it. The verse means that the reward of “those who sacrifice men” is to kiss calves.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב ואנשי בבל עשו את סכות בנות ומאי ניהו תרנגולת ואנשי כות עשו את נרגל ומאי ניהו תרנגול ואנשי חמת עשו את אשימא ומאי ניהו ברחא קרחא והעוים עשו את נבחן ואת תרתק ומאי ניהו כלב וחמור

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says with regard to the verse describ-ing the peoples that were settled in Samaria by the Assyrians: “And the men of Babylonia made Succoth-Benoth” (II Kings 17:30); and what is this idol? It is the image of a hen. “And the men of Cuth made Nergal” (II Kings 17:30); and what is it? It is the image of a rooster. “And the men of Hamath made Ashima” (II Kings 17:30); and what is it? It is the image of a bald billy goat. “And the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak” (II Kings 17:31); and what are they? The image of a dog and a donkey.

והספרוים שרפים את בניהם ואת בנותיהם באש לאדרמלך וענמלך אלהי ספרוים ומאי ניהו הפרד והסוס אדרמלך דאדר ליה למריה בטעינה וענמלך דעני ליה למריה בקרבא

“And the Sepharvites burned their sons and their daughters in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim” (II Kings 17:31); and what are they? The mule and the horse. And why are they called that? A mule is called Adrammelech because it honors [addar] its master with its load, i.e., because it carries the master’s load, and a horse is called Anammelech because it responds [anei] to its master, assisting him in battle.

אף חזקיה מלך יהודה ביקש אביו לעשות לו כן אלא שסכתו אמו סלמנדרא

The Gemara relates: The father of Hezekiah, king of Judea, also attempted to do so to him, i.e., to burn him as an offering to an idol, but his mother rubbed him with the blood of a salamander [salamandera], a creature created out of fire and immune to the effects of fire, whose blood is fireproof.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב יודעין היו ישראל בעבודה זרה שאין בה ממש ולא עבדו עבודה זרה אלא להתיר להם עריות בפרהסיא

§ Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The Jewish people knew that idol worship is of no substance; they did not actually believe in it. And they worshipped idols only in order to permit themselves to engage in forbidden sexual relations in public, since most rituals of idol worship would include public displays of forbidden sexual intercourse.

מתיב רב משרשיא כזכר בניהם מזבחותם וגו׳ ואמר רבי אלעזר כאדם שיש לו געגועין על בנו

Rav Mesharshiyya raises an objection to this statement from the following verse: “Like the memory of their sons are their altars, and their Asherim are by the leafy trees, upon the high hills” (Jeremiah 17:2). And Rabbi Elazar says that this means that the Jewish people would recall their idol worship like a person who misses his child. This interpretation indicates that they were truly attached to idol worship.

בתר דאביקו ביה

The Gemara answers: This was the case after the Jewish people became attached to idol worship, at which point they began to actually believe in it. At first, they were drawn to idol worship only due to their lust.

תא שמע ׳ונתתי פגריכם על פגרי גלוליכם׳ אמר אליהו הצדיק היה מחזר על תפוחי רעב שבירושלים פעם אחת מצא תינוק שהיה תפוח ומוטל באשפה

The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof that the Jewish people engaged in idol worship for its own sake and not for the sake of engaging in forbidden sexual relations: In interpretation of the verse: “And I shall cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols” (Leviticus 26:30), the Sages say that Elijah the Righteous, the prophet, would search for those who were swollen with hunger in Jerusalem. He once found a child who was swollen with hunger and lying in the garbage.

אמר לו מאיזה משפחה אתה אמר לו ׳ממשפחה פלונית אני׳ אמר לו ׳כלום נשתייר מאותה משפחה׳ אמר לו ׳לאו חוץ ממני׳ אמר לו ׳אם אני מלמדך דבר שאתה חי בו אתה למד׳ אמר לו ׳הן׳ אמר לו ׳אמור בכל יום שמע ישראל ה׳ אלהינו ה׳ אחד׳ אמר לו

Elijah said to the child: From which family are you? The child said to him: I am from such and such family. Elijah said to him: Isn’t there anyone left from that family? The child said to him: No one is left besides me. Elijah said to him: If I teach you something through which you will live, will you learn it? The child said to him: Yes. Elijah said to him: Say every day “Listen Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The child said to him:

  • This month's learning is sponsored by Ron and Shira Krebs to commemorate the 73rd yahrzeit of Shira's grandfather (Yitzchak Leib Ben David Ber HaCohen v'Malka), the 1st yahrzeit of Shira's father (Gershon Pinya Ben Yitzchak Leib HaCohen v'Menucha Sara), and the bar mitzvah of their son Eytan who will be making a siyum on Mishna Shas this month.

  • This month's learning is sponsored for the refuah shleima of Naama bat Yael Esther.

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Sanhedrin 63

The William Davidson Talmud | Powered by Sefaria

Sanhedrin 63

אמר רבי אמי זיבח וקיטר וניסך בהעלם אחד אינו חייב אלא אחת אמר אביי מאי טעמא דרבי אמי אמר קרא לא תעבדם הכתוב עשאן כולן עבודה אחת

Rabbi Ami says: If one sacrificed an animal as an idolatrous offering and burned incense and poured a libation, all in the course of one lapse of awareness, he is obligated to bring only one sin-offering. Abaye says: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Ami? The verse states: “Nor worship them” (Exodus 20:5). The verse renders all the various rites of worship as one rite.

ומי אמר אביי הכי והאמר אביי שלש השתחואות בעבודה זרה למה

The Gemara asks: And does Abaye actually say this? But doesn’t Abaye say: Why are there three mentions in the Torah of the prohibition against bowing to an object of idol worship? The prohibition against bowing to an idol appears three times: “You shall not bow to them nor worship them” (Exodus 20:5), “You shall not bow to their gods nor worship them” (Exodus 23:24), and “For you shall bow to no other god” (Exodus 34:14).

אחת לכדרכה ואחת שלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

The reason is that one mention is for an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship, and one mention is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if bowing is not its standard manner of worship, and one mention is to divide idol worship into categories, as one is obligated to bring an offering for every type of worship that he performed. Evidently, Abaye’s opinion is not in accordance with Rabbi Ami’s statement that one is obligated to bring one sin-offering for all of his acts of idol worship.

לדבריו דרבי אמי קאמר וליה לא סבירא ליה

The Gemara answers: Abaye stated his reason in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Ami, but he himself does not hold accordingly.

גופא אמר אביי שלש השתחואות בעבודה זרה למה אחת לכדרכה ואחת שלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

The Gemara discusses the matter itself that Abaye says: Why are there three mentions of the prohibition against bowing to an object of idol worship? One is for an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship, and one is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if bowing is not its standard manner of worship, and one mention is to divide idol worship into categories.

לכדרכה מאיכה יעבדו הגוים האלה נפקא

The Gemara asks: Why is a verse necessary for the prohibition against bowing to an idol for which bowing is its standard manner of worship? That prohibition is already derived from the verse: “Take heed to yourself that you not be ensnared to follow them…saying, how do these nations serve their gods, so I will do likewise” (Deuteronomy 12:30), which indicates that one is liable for worshipping an idol in the manner that the gentiles worship it.

אלא אחת כדרכה ושלא כדרכה ואחת לשלא כדרכה ואחת לחלק

Rather, Abaye’s statement should be understood as follows: One mention of the prohibition is for an idol for which its typical manner of worship is similar to bowing in that the idol is worshipped in an honorable manner, but bowing is not its typical manner of worship, as it is not typically worshipped by bowing. And one mention is a prohibition against bowing to an idol even if it is not similar to its standard manner of worship at all. And one mention is to divide idol worship into categories.

המקבלו עליו באלוה האומר לו ׳אלי אתה׳ אמר רב נחמן אמר רבה בר אבוה אמר רב כיון שאמר לו אלי אתה חייב

§ The mishna includes among those liable for idol worship one who declares that he accepts an idol upon himself as a god and one who says to an idol: You are my god. Rav Naḥman says that Rabba bar Avuh says that Rav says: Once a person said to an idol: You are my god, he is liable even if he did not worship it.

למאי אי לקטלא מתניתין היא אלא לקרבן

The Gemara asks: The transgressor is liable to receive what punishment? If he is liable to receive the death penalty, Rav’s statement is superfluous, as this is stated in the mishna. Rather, Rav means that one who does so unwittingly is obligated to bring an offering.

ואפילו לרבנן והתניא אינו חייב אלא על דבר שיש בו מעשה כגון זיבוח וקיטור וניסוך והשתחואה ואמר ריש לקיש מאן תנא השתחואה רבי עקיבא היא דאמר לא בעינן מעשה מכלל דרבנן סברי בעינן מעשה

The Gemara asks: And is this statement true even according to the opinion of the Rabbis? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: One is obligated to bring a sin-offering for unwitting idol worship only for a matter, a transgression, that involves an action, e.g., sacrificing an offering, or burning incense, or pouring a libation, or bowing? And Reish Lakish says: Who is the tanna who taught bowing among these examples? It is Rabbi Akiva, who says that we do not require a significant action in order to render one liable to bring a sin-offering; a minimal action is sufficient. By inference, the Rabbis, who disagree with Rabbi Akiva, maintain that we require a significant action. If bowing is not considered a significant action, then all the more so speech alone is not considered a significant action.

כי קאמר רב נמי לרבי עקיבא קאמר

The Gemara answers: Rav, too, when he states that one who says to an idol: You are my god, is obligated to bring a sin-offering, he states this according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva.

לרבי עקיבא פשיטא היינו מגדף

The Gemara asks: If Rav states this according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, isn’t it obvious that the transgressor is obligated to bring a sin-offering? This is identical to the halakha of a blasphemer, whom Rabbi Akiva obligates to bring an offering despite the lack of an action.

מהו דתימא עד כאן לא מחייב רבי עקיבא קרבן אלא במגדף דכתיב ביה כרת אבל הכא דלא כתיב ביה כרת אימא לא

The Gemara answers: Rav states this lest you say that Rabbi Akiva obligates one to bring an offering for a transgression that does not involve an action only in the case of a blasphemer, as it is written explicitly with regard to a blasphemer that he receives karet in the verse: “He blasphemes the Lord, and that soul shall be excised [nikhreta] from among his people” (Numbers 15:30). But here, with regard to one who accepts an idol as his god, where karet is not written explicitly, one might say that he is not obligated to bring an offering.

קא משמע לן דאתקושי אתקוש דכתיב וישתחוו לו ויזבחו לו ויאמרו וגו׳

Therefore, Rav teaches us that he is obligated to bring an offering, as the Torah compares the acceptance of an idol as a god to a case of active idol worship; as it is written: “They have made themselves a molten calf, and have bowed to it, and have sacrificed to it, and said: These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:8).

אמר רבי יוחנן אלמלא ויו שבהעלוך נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כלייה

With regard to the aforementioned verse, Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Were it not for the vav in the term: “Which brought you up [he’elukha],” giving it a plural form, the haters of the Jewish people, a euphemism used to refer to the Jewish people themselves, would have been sentenced to destruction for their idol worship. Since they recognized that God had taken them out of Egypt, and thought that He had merely made the golden calf His partner, the Jewish people were spared.

כתנאי אחרים אומרים אלמלא ויו שב׳העלוך׳ נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כלייה

The Gemara comments: Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion is like one side of the following dispute between tanna’im: Others say: Were it not for the vav in the term: “Which brought you up [he’elukha],” the haters of the Jewish people would have been sentenced to destruction.

אמר לו רבי שמעון בן יוחאי והלא כל המשתף שם שמים ודבר אחר נעקר מן העולם שנאמר ׳בלתי לה׳ לבדו׳ אלא מה תלמוד לומר ׳אשר העלוך׳ שאיוו אלוהות הרבה

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai to him: But isn’t anyone who links the name of Heaven and something else, a euphemism for an idol, uprooted from the world? As it is stated: “He who sacrifices to the gods, save to the Lord only, shall be utterly destroyed” (Exodus 22:19). The fact that the Jewish people included God in their idolatrous statement could not have saved them from destruction. Rather, what is the meaning when the verse states: “Which brought you up” in the plural? The verse teaches that the Jewish people desired many gods; they were not satisfied with the golden calf alone.

אבל המגפף והמנשק המכבד והמרבץ כו׳ כי אתא רב דימי אמר רבי אלעזר על כולם לוקה חוץ מהנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו

§ The mishna teaches: But with regard to one who hugs an idol, or one who kisses it, or one who cleans it, or one who sprays water before it, he transgresses a prohibition but is not liable to receive capital punishment. When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Elazar says: For all of these actions one is flogged, with the exception of the cases stated later in the mishna of one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name.

מאי שנא הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו דלא לקי משום דהוה ליה לאו שאין בו מעשה הני נמי לאו שבכללות הוא ואין לוקין על לאו שבכללות

The Gemara asks: What is different about these cases, one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name, that the transgressors are not flogged? It is because they are each an example of a prohibition that does not involve an action. These actions too, namely, hugging or kissing an idol and the like, are not punishable by lashes; one who performs them violates a general prohibition, and one is not flogged for violating a general prohibition, i.e., one that contains several prohibitions.

דתניא מנין לאוכל מן הבהמה קודם שתצא נפשה שהוא בלא תעשה תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

As this principle is taught in a baraita: From where is it derived that one who eats from an animal before its soul departs is in transgression of a prohibition? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood” (Leviticus 19:26), meaning, you shall not eat from the animal while its soul, which is referred to in the Torah as blood, is still within it.

דבר אחר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳ לא תאכלו בשר ועדין דם במזרק

The baraita adds: Another matter is derived from the verse “You shall not eat with the blood”: You shall not eat the meat of an offering while its blood is still in the bowl, as it has not yet been sprinkled on the altar. The meat of an offering may be eaten by the priests only after its blood is sprinkled.

רבי דוסא אומר מניין שאין מברין על הרוגי בית דין תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

The baraita continues: Rabbi Dosa says: From where is it derived that although in general, after a deceased person is buried, the mourners are provided by others with a meal, others do not provide the mourners with a meal after the burial of those executed by the court? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood,” which is interpreted to mean: You shall not eat a mourners’ meal after the burial of one who was executed.

רבי עקיבא אומר מנין לסנהדרין שהרגו את הנפש שאין טועמין כלום כל אותו היום תלמוד לומר ׳לא תאכלו על הדם׳

Rabbi Akiva says: From where is it derived with regard to a Sanhedrin that killed a soul, i.e., that sentenced a person to death, that the judges may not taste anything that entire day that they sentenced him? The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood.”

אמר רבי יוחנן אזהרה לבן סורר ומורה מנין תלמוד לומר לא תאכלו על הדם

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: From where is the prohibition against the behavior of a stubborn and rebellious son derived? While the Torah states the punishment given to a stubborn and rebellious son, the prohibition against his actions, namely, stealing money from his parents in order to eat a gluttonous meal of meat and wine in the company of lowly men, is not explicit. The verse states: “You shall not eat with the blood,” which is interpreted to mean that one may not eat in a manner that is punishable by death. This concludes the baraita.

ואמר רבי אבין בר חייא ואיתימא רבי אבין בר כהנא על כולם אינו לוקה משום דהוה ליה לאו שבכללות

And Rabbi Avin bar Ḥiyya says, and some say it is Rabbi Avin bar Kahana who says this: For all of the prohibitions that the Sages derive from this verse, one is not flogged for transgressing them, as it is a general prohibition that is referring to several different actions. Therefore, since the prohibition against hugging or kissing an idol is also derived from a general prohibition, it should not be punishable by lashes, contrary to the opinion of Rav Dimi.

אלא כי אתא רבין אמר רבי אלעזר על כולן אינו לוקה חוץ מן הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו

Rather, when Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he related a different version of what Rabbi Elazar says: For all of the transgressions listed in the mishna one is not flogged, with the exception of one who vows in an idol’s name and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name.

מאי שנא אהנך דלא לקי דהוה ליה לאו שבכללות הני נמי לאו שאין בו מעשה נינהו

The Gemara asks: What is different about transgressing those prohibitions for which one is not flogged? It is that they are each an example of a general prohibition, as explained previously. These cases too, namely, one who vows or takes an oath in the name of an idol, are included in a prohibition that does not involve an action, and therefore the transgressors are not punishable by lashes.

ההוא כרבי יהודה דאמר לאו שאין בו מעשה לוקין עליו

The Gemara answers: That halakha of Rabbi Eliezer’s is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who says with regard to a prohibition that does not involve an action that one is flogged for violating it.

דתניא ׳לא תותירו ממנו עד בקר׳ בא הכתוב ליתן עשה אחר לא תעשה

As it is taught in a baraita with regard to the Paschal offering: The verse states: “And you shall not leave any of it until morning; but that which remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire” (Exodus 12:10). The verse comes to provide a positive mitzva to burn the leftover meat after the prohibition against leaving it over was violated,

לומר שאין לוקין עליו דברי רבי יהודה

to say that one is not flogged for transgressing the prohibition, as any prohibition that can be rectified by the performance of a positive mitzva does not carry a punishment of lashes. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda.

רבי יעקב אומר לא מן השם הוא זה אלא משום דהוה ליה לאו שאין בו מעשה וכל לאו שאין בו מעשה אין לוקין עליו

Rabbi Ya’akov says: This is not for that reason. Rather, it is because it is a prohibition that does not involve an action. The transgression is simply the failure to consume all the meat during the allotted time rather than the performance of an action. And one is not flogged for the violation of any prohibition that does not involve an action.

מכלל דרבי יהודה סבר לוקין עליו

The Gemara concludes: By inference, Rabbi Yehuda holds that in general, one is flogged for the violation of a prohibition that does not involve an action. It can therefore be inferred that one who vows or takes an oath in the name of an idol is liable to be flogged according to Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion, even though no action is involved.

הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו הרי זה בלא תעשה הנודר בשמו והמקיים בשמו מנלן

§ The mishna teaches with regard to one who vows in the name of an idol and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name, that this person is in transgression of a prohibition. The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that one who vows in the name of an idol and one who affirms his statement by an oath in its name transgresses a prohibition?

דתניא ׳ושם אלהים אחרים לא תזכירו׳ שלא יאמר אדם לחבירו ׳שמור לי בצד עבודה זרה פלונית׳ ׳לא ישמע על פיך׳ שלא ידור בשמו ולא יקיים בשמו ולא יגרום לאחרים שידרו בשמו ושיקיימו בשמו

The Gemara answers: As it is taught in a baraita that the meaning of the verse: “And make no mention of the name of the other gods, neither let it be heard out of your mouth” (Exodus 23:13), is that a person may not say to another: Wait for me next to such and such an object of idol worship. The meaning of the statement “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” is that one may not vow in the name of an idol, nor affirm his statement by an oath in its name, nor cause others, i.e., gentiles, to vow in its name or affirm their statements by an oath in its name.

דבר אחר ׳לא ישמע על פיך׳ אזהרה למסית ולמדיח

Alternatively, the statement “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” can be interpreted as a prohibition against one who incites another to worship idols and against one who subverts an entire city to do so. The prohibition against inciting others to engage in idol worship can be derived from this verse.

מסית בהדיא כתיב ביה וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו וגו׳ אלא אזהרה למדיח

The Gemara asks: Why must the prohibition against an inciter be derived from here? It is written explicitly in that regard, in the verse concerning the inciter’s punishment: “And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more of any such wickedness as this is in your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:12). This is clearly a prohibition against inciting others to worship idols. Rather, the verse “neither let it be heard out of your mouth” is a prohibition against one who subverts an entire city to engage in idol worship; this prohibition is not stated elsewhere.

ולא יגרום לאחרים שידרו בשמו ושיקיימו בשמו מסייעא ליה לאבוה דשמואל דאמר אבוה דשמואל אסור לאדם שיעשה שותפות עם הנכרי שמא יתחייב לו שבועה ונשבע בעבודה זרה שלו והתורה אמרה לא ישמע על פיך

The baraita teaches: And one may not cause others, i.e., gentiles, to vow in the name of an idol or affirm their statements by an oath in its name. The Gemara comments: The baraita supports the opinion of Shmuel’s father, as Shmuel’s father says: It is prohibited for a person to enter into a partnership with a gentile, lest their joint ventures lead them to quarrel, and his gentile partner will be obligated to take an oath to him, and he will take an oath in the name of his object of idol worship; and the Torah states: “Neither let it be heard out of your mouth,” which includes causing a gentile to take an oath in the name of an idol.

כי אתא עולא בת בקלנבו אמר ליה רבא והיכא בת מר אמר ליה בקלנבו אמר ליה והכתיב ׳ושם אלהים אחרים לא תזכירו׳ אמר ליה הכי אמר רבי יוחנן כל עבודה זרה הכתובה בתורה מותר להזכיר שמה והא היכא כתיבא דכתיב ׳כרע בל קרס נבו׳

When Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he lodged in a place called Kalnevo. Rava said to him: And where did the Master lodge? Ulla said to him: In Kalnevo. Rava said to him: But isn’t it written: “And make no mention of the name of the other gods”? Kalnevo is the name of an idol. Ulla said to him: This is what Rabbi Yoḥanan said: With regard to any object of idol worship that is written in the Torah, it is permitted to mention its name. Since one may mention the idol while reading the Torah, it is permitted to mention it altogether. Rava asked: And where is this idol written? Ulla answered: As it is written: “Bel bows down, Nevo stoops” (Isaiah 46:1).

ואי לא כתיבא לא מתיב רב משרשיא ראה אחת מרובה כשלש שהיא כמגדיון לשילה שהן שתי טבילות ושני ספוגין הרי זה זב גמור אמר רבינא גד נמי מכתב כתיב דכתיב הערכים לגד שלחן

The Gemara asks: And does this mean that if an idol is not written in the Torah, it is not permitted to mention its name? Rav Mesharshiyya raises an objection to this premise from a mishna in tractate Zavim (1:5): If a man saw, i.e., experienced, one gonorrhea-like discharge that lasted as long as three regular gonorrhea-like discharges, which is like the amount of time it takes to walk from the location of the idol Gadyon to Shiloh, which is the amount of time it takes to perform two immersions and two dryings with a towel, he is ritually impure with the impurity status of a full-fledged zav, even though a man generally becomes a zav only after three separate discharges. In any event, the mishna mentions the idol Gadyon. Ravina says: The idol Gad is also written in the Bible; as it is written: “That prepare a table for Gad” (Isaiah 65:11).

אמר רב נחמן כל ליצנותא אסירא חוץ מליצנותא דעבודה זרה דשריא דכתיב כרע בל קרס נבו קרסו כרעו יחדו לא יכלו מלט משא

§ Rav Naḥman says: All types of mockery are forbidden, except for mockery of idol worship, which is permitted, as it is written: “Bel crouches down, Nevo stoops…they stoop, they crouch down together, they could not hold back the burden” (Isiah 46:1–2). The verse is interpreted as meaning that they crouch in order to defecate and cannot retain their excrement.

וכתיב דברו לעגלות בית און יגורו שכן שמרון כי אבל עליו עמו וכמריו עליו יגילו על כבודו כי גלה ממנו אל תקרי כבודו אלא כבידו

And it is similarly written: “They speak…the inhabitants of Samaria shall be in dread for the calves of Beth Aven; for its people shall mourn over it, and its priests shall tremble for it, for its glory [kevodo], because it has departed from it” (Hosea 10:4–5). Do not read it as “its glory [kevodo]”; rather, read it as its burden [keveido], meaning that the idol is unable to restrain itself from defecating. These are examples of derogatory statements that are permitted only in reference to idols.

אמר רבי יצחק מאי דכתיב ועתה יוספו לחטא ויעשו להם מסכה מכספם כתבונם עצבים וגו׳ מאי כתבונם עצבים מלמד שכל אחד ואחד עשה דמות יראתו ומניחה בכיסו בשעה שזוכרה מוציאה מתוך חיקו ומחבקה ומנשקה

Rav Yitzḥak says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And now they continue to sin, and have made for themselves molten images of their silver, according to their own understanding, idols, all of them the work of the craftsmen; of them they say: Those who sacrifice men kiss calves” (Hosea 13:2)? What is the meaning of the expression: “According to their own understanding [kitvunam], idols”? The word kitvunam is interpreted as meaning: According to their image [ketavnitam], and the verse teaches that each and every person would make an image of his god and place it in his pocket. When he would remember it, he would remove it from his bosom and embrace it and kiss it.

מאי זבחי אדם עגלים ישקון אמר רבי יצחק דבי רבי אמי שהיו כומרים נותנים עיניהם בבעלי ממון ומרעיבים את העגלים ועושין דמות עצבים ומעמידין בצד אבוסיהן ומוציאין אותן לחוץ כיון שראו אותן רצין אחריהן וממשמשין בהן אומרים לו עבודה זרה חפץ בך יבא ויזבח עצמו לו

What is the meaning of the statement: “Those who sacrifice men kiss calves”? Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: It means that priests of idol worship would set their eyes on the wealthy, and they would starve the calves that were objects of idol worship, and make statues in the image of those wealthy people, and place those statues next to the troughs of the calves, and they would take those calves outside. When the calves would see those wealthy people, whose image they were used to seeing near their troughs, they would run after them and paw them. At this point the priests would say to that wealthy person: The object of idol worship, the calf, desires you; let the Master come and sacrifice himself to it. The priests would inherit his property.

אמר רבא האי זבחי אדם עגלים ישקון עגלים ישקון לזבח אדם מיבעי ליה אלא אמר רבא כל הזובח את בנו לעבודה זרה אמר לו דורון גדול הקריב לו יבא וישק לו

Rava says: That is not the correct interpretation of the verse, as the wording “those who sacrifice men kiss calves” is unsuitable for that interpretation, since in that case the verse should have stated: They make calves kiss to sacrifice men. Rather, Rava says that the verse is to be understood as follows: Whenever anyone sacrifices his son to an object of idol worship, the priest says to him: The Master has sacrificed a great gift [doron] to the idol; therefore, he has the right to come and kiss it. The verse means that the reward of “those who sacrifice men” is to kiss calves.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב ואנשי בבל עשו את סכות בנות ומאי ניהו תרנגולת ואנשי כות עשו את נרגל ומאי ניהו תרנגול ואנשי חמת עשו את אשימא ומאי ניהו ברחא קרחא והעוים עשו את נבחן ואת תרתק ומאי ניהו כלב וחמור

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says with regard to the verse describ-ing the peoples that were settled in Samaria by the Assyrians: “And the men of Babylonia made Succoth-Benoth” (II Kings 17:30); and what is this idol? It is the image of a hen. “And the men of Cuth made Nergal” (II Kings 17:30); and what is it? It is the image of a rooster. “And the men of Hamath made Ashima” (II Kings 17:30); and what is it? It is the image of a bald billy goat. “And the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak” (II Kings 17:31); and what are they? The image of a dog and a donkey.

והספרוים שרפים את בניהם ואת בנותיהם באש לאדרמלך וענמלך אלהי ספרוים ומאי ניהו הפרד והסוס אדרמלך דאדר ליה למריה בטעינה וענמלך דעני ליה למריה בקרבא

“And the Sepharvites burned their sons and their daughters in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim” (II Kings 17:31); and what are they? The mule and the horse. And why are they called that? A mule is called Adrammelech because it honors [addar] its master with its load, i.e., because it carries the master’s load, and a horse is called Anammelech because it responds [anei] to its master, assisting him in battle.

אף חזקיה מלך יהודה ביקש אביו לעשות לו כן אלא שסכתו אמו סלמנדרא

The Gemara relates: The father of Hezekiah, king of Judea, also attempted to do so to him, i.e., to burn him as an offering to an idol, but his mother rubbed him with the blood of a salamander [salamandera], a creature created out of fire and immune to the effects of fire, whose blood is fireproof.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב יודעין היו ישראל בעבודה זרה שאין בה ממש ולא עבדו עבודה זרה אלא להתיר להם עריות בפרהסיא

§ Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The Jewish people knew that idol worship is of no substance; they did not actually believe in it. And they worshipped idols only in order to permit themselves to engage in forbidden sexual relations in public, since most rituals of idol worship would include public displays of forbidden sexual intercourse.

מתיב רב משרשיא כזכר בניהם מזבחותם וגו׳ ואמר רבי אלעזר כאדם שיש לו געגועין על בנו

Rav Mesharshiyya raises an objection to this statement from the following verse: “Like the memory of their sons are their altars, and their Asherim are by the leafy trees, upon the high hills” (Jeremiah 17:2). And Rabbi Elazar says that this means that the Jewish people would recall their idol worship like a person who misses his child. This interpretation indicates that they were truly attached to idol worship.

בתר דאביקו ביה

The Gemara answers: This was the case after the Jewish people became attached to idol worship, at which point they began to actually believe in it. At first, they were drawn to idol worship only due to their lust.

תא שמע ׳ונתתי פגריכם על פגרי גלוליכם׳ אמר אליהו הצדיק היה מחזר על תפוחי רעב שבירושלים פעם אחת מצא תינוק שהיה תפוח ומוטל באשפה

The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof that the Jewish people engaged in idol worship for its own sake and not for the sake of engaging in forbidden sexual relations: In interpretation of the verse: “And I shall cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols” (Leviticus 26:30), the Sages say that Elijah the Righteous, the prophet, would search for those who were swollen with hunger in Jerusalem. He once found a child who was swollen with hunger and lying in the garbage.

אמר לו מאיזה משפחה אתה אמר לו ׳ממשפחה פלונית אני׳ אמר לו ׳כלום נשתייר מאותה משפחה׳ אמר לו ׳לאו חוץ ממני׳ אמר לו ׳אם אני מלמדך דבר שאתה חי בו אתה למד׳ אמר לו ׳הן׳ אמר לו ׳אמור בכל יום שמע ישראל ה׳ אלהינו ה׳ אחד׳ אמר לו

Elijah said to the child: From which family are you? The child said to him: I am from such and such family. Elijah said to him: Isn’t there anyone left from that family? The child said to him: No one is left besides me. Elijah said to him: If I teach you something through which you will live, will you learn it? The child said to him: Yes. Elijah said to him: Say every day “Listen Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The child said to him:

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