THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Avodah Zarah, 41
AVODAH ZARAH 41 - dedicated by Rabbi Kornfeld's father in memory of his
aunt, Malka Gitel bas Reb Yakov Mordechai (Malvina Marmorstein), who took
him into her home and raised him like her own child after the Holocaust. Her
Yahrzeit is 20 Nisan.
1) BROKEN PIECES OF AN IDOL
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that when one finds broken pieces of statues,
he is permitted to derive benefit from them. In the Gemara, Shmuel comments
that even if the statue was definitely used for Avodah Zarah, it is
permitted to derive benefit from the broken fragments.
The Gemara later (41b) relates an argument between Rebbi Yochanan and Reish
Lakish concerning whether or not it is permitted to benefit from an idol
that broke apart by itself. Reish Lakish says that the pieces are permitted
to be used, while Rebbi Yochanan prohibits using the pieces, since no one
actively annulled the statue's status of Avodah Zarah. Whose opinion does
(a) TOSFOS (DH Amar Shmuel) quotes the RI who says that Shmuel must follow
the view of Reish Lakish, and Reish Lakish must follow the view of Shmuel.
This is apparent from the question of Rebbi Yochanan on the opinion of Reish
Lakish. Rebbi Yochanan asks that the Mishnah states that pieces of "statues"
are permitted, and it does not say that that pieces of "Avodas Kochachim"
are permitted. This implies that when we know for certain that the statue
had been worshipped as an Avodah Zarah, the pieces are forbidden. This
assertion is exactly the opposite of the statement of Shmuel, who says that
broken pieces of an Avodah Zarah are permitted! It therefore seems logical
to say that Shmuel argues with Rebbi Yochanan in this regard. This is also
the opinion of the TOSFOS SHANTZ.
What is the logic of Shmuel and Reish Lakish in a case where the Avodah
Zarah breaks by itself? After all, no Nochri actively nullified his Avodah
Zarah, which is necessary in order to permit using an object that was served
as an Avodah Zarah. Why is it not still forbidden like any Avodah Zarah?
The SEDER YAKOV explains that perhaps when the Nochri sees his Avodah Zarah
lying broken, he thinks to himself that if it cannot protect itself, then
certainly it cannot protect me? After a few minutes of these thoughts, he
will be Mevatel the Avodah Zarah. Even if the Nochri did not see his Avodah
Zarah break, we may still assume that since the Nochri will be Mevatel this
statue from being an idol when he finds out that it fell apart, a broken
idol no longer qualifies as an Avodah Zarah.
(b) The RIF, ROSH, and RITVA learn that Shmuel agrees with Rebbi Yochanan
and maintains that when an idol broke by itself, the pieces are prohibited.
Shmuel's ruling that the pieces are permitted applies only when someone
actively broke the idol. The RAMBAN here explains that when one finds a
broken piece of an Avodah Zarah, he may assume that it was broken in order
to exchange it for a different Avodah Zarah, or simply by an unsatisfied
customer who was Mevatel the Avodah Zarah, and thus it is permitted.
However, when one sees that the idol simply broke apart by itself (and no
one was Mevatel it), even Shmuel agrees that it remains forbidden.
Shmuel and Rebbi Yochanan are following the basic concept of Bitul of Avodah
Zarah. Rebbi Yochanan maintains that a Nochri must be Mevatel his Avodah
Zarah, for otherwise it retains its status of being forbidden from benefit.
Shmuel maintains that because the broken pieces of Avodah Zarah probably
were from the Avodah Zarah of a Nochri that was Mevatel his Avodah Zarah, it
is now permitted to benefit from it. (Y. Montrose)
2) CAN A DOUBT OVERRIDE A CERTAINTY
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the principle of "Ein Safek Motzi Midei
Vadai," a doubt does not override a certainty. The Gemara challenges this
concept from a Beraisa which states that if a Chaver (a person who is
trustworthy with regard to separating Terumos and Ma'aseros from his fruit)
dies and we do not know if he had separated Ma'aser from the fruit that he
left, we may assume that the Ma'aser was separated. However, the obligation
to separate Ma'aser is a definite obligation, while the assumption that
Ma'aser was removed from this fruit is only a doubt, and yet the Beraisa
states that the doubt overrides the definite assumption! Why should we say
that the doubt removes the status of Tevel from the fruit?
The Gemara, in its second answer, states that the case of the Chaver who
died does not involve any definite factor ("Vadai"), because the Chaver
might have reaped his fruit in a way which does not obligate him to separate
Ma'aser from it (such as in order to feed it to his animal). Therefore, the
doubt of whether or not Ma'aser was separated overrides the possibility that
the fruit was obligated.
This logic seems difficult to understand. The fruit can not be gathered in
such a way that it becomes entirely exempt from Ma'aser. Rather, gathering
in this manner permits the fruit to be consumed in a temporary, informal
manner ("Achilas Arai"), such as feeding it to animals. In order to eat the
fruit in a permanent, normal manner ("Achilas Keva"), Ma'aser still needs to
be separated! Accordingly, there is still a definite factor of Tevel. How,
then, can the doubt (that the Chaver separated Ma'aser) override the
certainty (that this fruit certainly was obligated in Ma'aser)?
(a) RASHI (DH d'Avad Lehu) explains that the prohibition against eating
untithed produce in a permanent manner is only mid'Rabanan. The Rabanan
understood that there is a Chazakah that the Chaver always separates Ma'aser
from his fruit, and therefore they relied on this Chazakah (even though it
is still a doubt) when it opposes a prohibition which is only mid'Rabanan.
(b) TOSFOS in Pesachim (9a, DH Kedei) explains in the name of the RI that
the Gemara here is referring only to the allowance to feed the produce to an
animal, as the Beraisa states. The animal's consumption always has the
Halachic status of being a temporary meal, an "Achilas Arai." Therefore, the
animal is allowed to eat the produce, since with regard to the Halachah that
applies to the animal, there is indeed a doubt about the obligation to
separate Ma'aser from the produce (that is, since the Chaver might have
brought in the produce in such a manner). This explanation can also be found
in Tosfos here (DH u'Machnisah). Apparently, this opinion does not agree
that the Rabanan enabled a doubt to remove a certainty when the certainly is
only mid'Rabanan in nature.
The TZELACH (Berachos 21a, DH Mai Taima) uses this explanation of Tosfos as
a basis for his dispute with a ruling of the MAGEN AVRAHAM. The Magen
Avraham (OC 184:8) discusses a case in which a person eats bread in the
amount of a k'Zayis, which obligates him, mid'Rabanan, to recite Birkas
ha'Mazon. What is the Halachah when the person knows that he ate the small
amount of bread but does not remember whether or not he recited Birkas
ha'Mazon? The Magen Avraham rules that he does *not* recite Birkas ha'Mazon
now out of doubt, because his obligation to recite Birkas ha'Mazon is only
mid'Rabanan (since he did not eat a large enough amount of bread). The
Tzelach argues that we see from Tosfos that a doubt (such as whether or not
one recited Birkas ha'Mazon) does not override a certainty (that the person
ate bread and became obligated to recite Birkas ha'Mazon), even when that
certainty is only a d'Rabanan obligation, and most authorities agree with
Tosfos (see TUR OC 438, MISHNEH L'MELECH in Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 2:8,
and others)! (The Tzelach agrees that if the Rabbinic prohibition had no
root in the Torah at all, such as a blessing before eating food, then a
doubt indeed could override a certainty. Thus, had the case of the Magen
Avraham been discussing a fruit, then even the Tzelach would have agreed
that one would not need to recite a blessing out of doubt.) This is also the
opinion of the BIGDEI YESHA (OC 438). Since the person knows that he
certainly was obligated mid'Rabanan to recite Birkas ha'Mazon, his doubt
about whether or not he did so should not override his definite obligation
and exempt him from Birkas ha'Mazon; rather, he must recite Birkas ha'Mazon
again out of doubt.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 184:15) rules in accordance with the view of the
Magen Avraham. In the SHA'AR HA'TZIYON (#17) he records the Tzelach's
disagreement, yet he states that the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#430) supports the
opinion of the Magen Avraham.
The SEDER YAKOV is puzzled by the words if the Sha'ar ha'Tziyon. If the
Tzelach maintains that *most* Poskim dispute the ruling of the Magen
Avraham, why is it relevant that the Sefer ha'Chinuch agrees with the Magen
Avraham? How can the Sefer ha'Chinuch's opinion decide the argument?
The Seder Yakov presents a different argument to question the position of
the Tzelach. We find that the guidelines of the laws of Berachos differ from
the guidelines of other areas of Halachah. For example, the Mishnah Berurah
(OC 215:20) rules that in a case of a doubt, even if there are two possible
reasons why the person should say a Berachah, we invoke the rule of "Safek
Berachos l'Hakel" (a doubt regarding a Berachah is resolved leniently, and
one does *not* recite the Berachah out of doubt). Accordingly, the laws of
Berachos cannot be compared with other Halachos, as we see that a doubt
regarding Berachos is almost always resolved leniently. This questions the
basis of the Tzelach's question, whereby he compares the topic of a doubt
regarding Berachos with the topic of our Gemara, a doubt regarding the
separation of Ma'aser. (Y. Montrose)