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Avodah Zarah, 46

AVODAH ZARAH 46 (26 Nisan) - has been dedicated by Mr. Avi Berger in memory of his mother, Leah bas Michel Mordechai, in honor of her Yahrzeit.


QUESTION: The Gemara cites a dispute among Amora'im concerning what the Halachah is in a case in which stones that broke loose from a mountain are worshipped. One opinion states that the stones are permitted, because such stones have no human involvement in their creation ("Tefisas Yedei Adam"). Another opinion prohibits such stones based on a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that teaches that any object that is worshipped becomes prohibited, unless it is attached to the ground or unless it is a live animal.

The Gemara attempts to prove that it is Chizkiyah who permits such rocks that are worshipped. Chizkiyah asks what the Halachah is in a case in which a person stands an egg in a vertical position in order to worship it. The Gemara understands that Chizkiyah's question is whether or not such a minimal act can be considered "Tefisas Yedei Adam" to prohibit the egg. This implies that the egg is permitted if it is worshipped before it is stood upright, even though the egg is neither a living animal nor attached to the ground. It must be that Chizkiyah maintains that any object which did not have "Tefisas Yedei Adam" is permitted after being worshipped.

Chizkiyah's inquiry involves a person who stood an egg upright. This implies that if a person actually carried the egg to a different location, his act is certainly considered an act of "Tefisas Yedei Adam." We find further support for this from the Gemara later (59a) which states that if a person removes water from a pool with his hands and brings it to a different location, the water can become Asur because it now has "Tefisas Yedei Adam."

If moving an object is considered "Tefisas Yedei Adam," then it should be possible to prohibit an animal by bowing down to it if the animal was ever moved from place to place by a person! The Gemara, though, seems to assume that an animal never becomes prohibited by merely bowing down to it. Why is it not considered "Tefisas Yedei Adam" when a person moves an animal from place to place?


(a) The RITVA cites his Rebbi who explains that standing an egg upright in order to worship it is a significant action, while merely moving an egg from one place to another is not a significant action. By standing it upright, one makes it clear to all who see it that its position was intentionally altered (since such a position is not a natural position for an egg), and, in addition, the action was done for the purpose of worshipping the egg as an Avodah Zarah. In contrast, merely moving an animal (or an egg) from place to place is not considered "Tefisas Yedei Adam."

According to this answer, the Gemara (59a) which prohibits water that is removed from its source must be discussing water that is removed in order to worship it, or in a manner that makes it evident that it was manipulated by human hands.

(b) The Ritva further suggests that even if moving an egg or stone is considered "Tefisas Yedei Adam," moving an animal is not. The reason for this is because the animal is able to move of its own accord. In addition, even when a person carries the animal, the animal is considered to be contributing to the effort because of the principle of "Chay Nosei Es Atzmo" (according to the Halachic opinion; see Shabbos 94a), unless the animal is bound, in which case it does not contribute to the effort.

This also appears to be the opinion of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 8:1-2), who writes that if a person worships fruits "in the place in which they grew," the fruits do not become prohibited, and if a person worships stones "in their place," they do not become prohibited. Why does the Rambam add that these objects are "in their place?" Perhaps he means to teach that if the person carried them from where they originally grew, they become prohibited when they are worshipped because they had "Tefisas Yedei Adam." This seems to be the way the TAZ (YD 145:2) understands the Rambam's view.

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL explains that the Gemara's question about rocks that move from their place pertains to rocks that are only partially detached from the mountain, but not completely detached.

What is the source for Rabeinu Chananel's explanation? The Gemara seems to say to the contrary, that the stones should be permitted even if they are completely detached, since they had no human involvement!

Apparently, Rabeinu Chananel understands that the lack of "Tefisas Yedei Adam" is not enough to permit an object that is worshipped; it must also be attached. This Halachah is learned from a Tzad ha'Shaveh from the law of an animal and the law of a mountain. A mountain is obviously attached to the ground. Rabeinu Chananel considers an animal to be attached as well, since there is more to a live animal than the physical body that was worshipped (i.e. its "Nefesh"). The Gemara in Chulin (18a) writes that a person may not perform Shechitah with an object that is Mechubar, attached, such as with any part of a live animal (see RASHI there, DH Mechuberes). (This comparison can be refuted, though, because when the Gemara in Chulin says that a tooth of a live animal is considered Mechubar with regard to using it for Shechitah, it may mean that the tooth is secondary to the living animal, and the living animal cannot be considered as merely a "handle" for the tooth.)

According to Rabeinu Chananel, the reason an egg is compared to stones that broke loose from a mountain is apparently because an egg is in a state of being not fully alive, just as the stones are in a state of being not fully attached.

Regarding our original question, Rabeinu Chananel maintains that before an object is moved from place to place it can become prohibited when worshipped if it is fully detached from the ground.

With regard to the difference between moving an egg and moving an animal, Rabeinu Chananel might agree with one of the answers of the Ritva.


QUESTION: Rami bar Chama asks whether or not stones that were worshipped become prohibited for use for purposes of Korbanos (such as to use for building a Mizbe'ach). We know that an animal that is worshipped cannot be brought as a Korban, as the Gemara says in Bava Kama (40b). Does the same Halachah apply with regard to stones that are attached to the ground?

Why should the Gemara assume that there is a difference between stones that are attached to the ground and animals? If the Torah teaches that an animal that was worshipped as Avodah Zarah cannot be used for a Korban even though it is permitted for ordinary use, then why should we not assume that the same applies to stones attached to the ground?

ANSWER: According to RASHI, we may suggest a straightforward answer to this question. Rashi on the Mishnah (45a) teaches that when a mountain is worshipped, it does not become an Avodah Zarah. For this reason, what is sacrificed to the mountain does not become prohibited. However, Rashi in Chulin (40a) writes that the same does not apply to animals. If a person worships an animal, it *does* become an Avodah Zarah, and what is sacrificed to that animal does become prohibited. The reason for this is because the verse which permits mountains that were worshipped implies that mountains do not become Avodah Zarah at all, as the Mishnah states. In contrast, the verse which permits animals that were worshipped does not have the same implication.

The Gemara is suggesting that perhaps since a mountain does not become an Avodah Zarah, it should not be prohibited for purposes of Korbanos, unlike animals.

QUESTION: Rami bar Chama asks whether or not stones that were worshipped become prohibited for use for purposes of Korbanos (such as to use for building a Mizbe'ach). The Gemara seems to conclude that the stones do become prohibited for use for purposes of Korbanos.

Rebbi Akiva in the Mishnah (45a) teaches that upon every high mountain or hilltop, the Nochrim served Avodah Zarah. The Yerushalmi (3:5) asks that if the Nochrim served Avodah Zarah on every hilltop, and Mechubar becomes prohibited for use for Korbanos, then how was David ha'Melech permitted to build the Beis ha'Mikdash on the top of Har ha'Moriyah?

(The question of the Yerushalmi needs further elucidation. Rebbi Akiva teaches simply that the Nochrim placed their idols on every hilltop and tree. Why should the hilltop itself become prohibited as if it was worshipped? The RAMBAN and RAN cite the Yerushalmi as saying that according to Rebbi Akiva, "there was no mountain or hilltop which the Nochrim did not worship," implying that they worshipped the actual mountains. However, in our text of the Yerushalmi, Rebbi Akiva says that they served Avodah Zarah "*on* the mountains." Perhaps the Yerushalmi means that since the mountains were chosen as places to display their idols, the mountains themselves became "Meshamshei Avodah Zarah," objects which were used to serve the Avodah Zarah, and for that reason they should become prohibited themselves (as the BI'UR HALACHAH writes in OC 154:11 with regard to houses which contained idols).)

ANSWER: The Yerushalmi answers that the location of the Beis ha'Mikdash was chosen by the Navi, and therefore it is permitted.

How, though, can a Navi permit using a forbidden location for building the Beis ha'Mikdash? We know that even a Navi is not allowed to tell us to transgress a Torah prohibition (see Yevamos 90b).

(a) The RAMBAN and RAN explain that the Navi did not permit a mountain upon which Avodah Zarah was worshipped. Rather, the Navi disclosed which mountain never had Avodah Zarah worshipped upon it. Apparently, a Navi is permitted to teach details which will have a Halachic effect as long as he does not contradict the Torah. (See also KUNTRUS DIVREI SOFRIM of RAV ELCHANAN WASSERMAN, who discusses this distinction.)

(b) The CHASAM SOFER (OC 208 and YD 236) explains that even if we would not normally rely on a Navi with regard to Halachic matters, the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash is an exception. With regard to building the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Torah tells us that every detail of its construction must follow the instructions of the prophet (see Bechoros 17b). Since the Torah itself tells us to ask the prophet for the details, asking the prophet does not contradict the rule that we do not consult the prophet on Halachic matters.

(c) The Chasam Sofer (OC ibid. and YD 233) further suggests that even if the Nochrim had worshipped Avodah Zarah on Har ha'Moriyah, perhaps it would not become prohibited, in contrast to all other mountains. He explains in the name of his rebbi, RAV NASAN ADLER, as follows. The Midrash (Tanchuma, Vayera #22) tells us that before the Akeidah, there was no mountain at the location where Har ha'Moriyah presently stands. It was a valley. However, when Avraham Avinu came there to bring his sacrifice, Hashem said that it is not proper respect for a King to rest His presence in a low valley. Therefore, He made the area rise and become a mountain so that it would be an appropriate place for the dwelling of the Shechinah. Immediately after the Akeidah, Avraham Avinu declared that from that day it should be known that this is the place where Hashem will rest His presence when the Beis ha'Mikdash will be built (see Rashi to Bereishis 22:14).

From that moment on, Har ha'Moriyah, the location of the Beis ha'Mikdash, was Hekdesh, since Hashem gave the land to Avraham Avinu and he had the right to consecrate it. Consecrated land cannot become prohibited if a Nochri, or even if a Jew, worships it, since the land does not belong to the person worshipping it. (The Gemara later (53b) explains that the Nochrim were able to prohibit the Asheiros that they worshipped in Eretz Yisrael even though Hashem gave the land to Avraham Avinu and it did not belong to the Nochrim, because Avraham's descendants showed their consent for serving Avodah Zarah when they sinned with the Egel ha'Zahav at Har Sinai. Nevertheless, even the consent of the Jews could not cause Har ha'Moriyah to become Asur when the Nochrim worshipped it, because it was Hekdesh and no longer in their possession, as the Chasam Sofer (YD 234) and other Acharonim explain.)

Therefore, the location of the Beis ha'Mikdash did not become prohibited when Nochrim served Avodah Zarah there after the Akeidah. Before the Akeidah, they would not have served Avodah Zarah, since it was a valley and not a mountain! When the Navi told David ha'Melech where to build the Beis ha'Mikdash, he was simply revealing to him where the place was that had been consecrated for the Beis ha'Mikdash from the time of Avraham Avinu.

The MESHECH CHOCHMAH (Bereishis 22:2) suggests a similar explanation. However, he explains the reason why the Nochrim would not have served Avodah Zarah on the mountain before the Akeidah is because the practice of sacrificing on mountaintops began only after the Akeidah. The Nochrim saw how Avraham Avinu served Hashem, and they perverted that form of service for their Avodah Zarah. (We find a similar concept in Rashi to Devarim 16:22, with regard to offering a sacrifice on a Bamah. See Mesech Chochmah to Bereishis 31:13.)

The SEFER CHAVALIM BA'NE'IMIM cited by the NACHALAS SHIMON (Shmuel II, #46:11) points out that this explanation will not suffice according to the opinion of the b(Hilchos Isurei Mizbe'ach 4:6). The Rambam rules that when a person worships an object that does not belong to him, that object becomes prohibited for use for Korbanos. (See also SEFER YAKOV here.) According to the Rambam, we must answer like the Ramban (cited above) who suggests that the Nochrim never worshipped Avodah Zarah on Har ha'Moriyah. The explanation of Rav Nasan Adler will be possible according to the RA'AVAD and TOSFOS (46a, DH Behemah), who maintain that worshipping another person's object does not prohibit it even for purposes of Korbanos. (Alternatively, an object that belongs to Hekdesh cannot be prohibited by worshipping it, since it does not belong to any person.)

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