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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Avodah Zarah 18


(a) They charged R. Chanina ben Tradyon: Why did you engage in Torah?
(b) R. Chanina: Hash-m commanded me to!
(c) They immediately decreed that he would be burned, his wife would be killed, and his daughter (one of them) would be placed in a harlots' booth.
(d) It was decreed that he would be burned, because he was Hogeh the letters of Hash-m's name (Rashi - he expounded them (we are thinking, to achieve his desires); Tosfos - he pronounced His name as it is written).
(e) Question: How could he do so?
1. (Mishnah): The following have no share in the world to come: one who denies that Hash-m gave the Torah, one who denies that the Torah alludes to the world to come;
2. Aba Sha'ul says, also one who says the letters of Hash-m's name.
(f) Answer: He did so for the sake of learning.
1. (Beraisa): You may not learn (witchcraft) to practice it, but you may learn it to understand (the laws of it) and to give rulings about it. (And similarly regarding Hogeh the letters of His name).
(g) Question: If so, why was he punished?
(h) Answer: He did so in public.
(i) It was decreed that his wife would be killed, because she did not protest to what he did.
1. This teaches that one who could protest and does not is punished.
(j) It was decreed that his daughter would be placed in a harlots' booth for she once acted immodestly:
1. She once walked in front of important people of Romi; she heard them praise the way she stepped, and made an effort to take nice steps.
2. (Reish Lakish): "Avon Akevai Yesubeni" - transgressions that a person does with his feet (some say - tramples, i.e. ignores) in this world surround him on the day of judgment (in the world to come).
(k) When they were taken out for their punishments, they justified Hash-m's decree:
1. R. Chanina: "Ha'Tzur Tamim Pa'alo..."
2. His wife: "Kel Emunah v'Ein Avel"
3. His daughter: "Gedol ha'Etzah v'Rav ha'Aliliyah...Al Kol Darchei Benei Adam"
(l) Rebbi: They were such great Tzadikim that there was a verse to justify the judgment of each one!
(m) (Beraisa): When R. Yosi ben Kisma fell sick, R. Chanina ben Tradyon visited him.
1. R. Yosi: Hash-m put Romi in power, allowed them to destroy the Mikdash and kill the greatest Tzadikim, and they are still ruling;
i. I hear that you teach Torah to multitudes, holding a Sefer Torah (you are endangering yourself)!
2. R. Chanina: Hash-m will have mercy on me (to protect me).
3. R. Yosi: That is not a proper answer! I suspect that you will be burned with the Sefer Torah!
4. R. Chanina: What kind of share will I have in the world to come?
5. R. Yosi: Is there an episode that characterizes you?
6. R. Chanina: I once collected money for Purim, and I mistakenly thought it was regular Tzedakah, and gave it as such; later, I donated that amount for Purim.
7. R. Yosi: I hope that I will have a share like you!
(n) Soon after this, R. Yosi ben Kisma died; the Roman officials went to bury him, and eulogized him greatly. On their return, they saw R. Chanina ben Tradyon teaching Torah to multitudes, holding a Sefer Torah.
(o) They wrapped him in the Sefer Torah and surrounded him with bundles of vines, which they lit on fire. They put wet sponges over his heart, so he would not die quickly.
1. His daughter: Woe that I see you thusly!
2. R. Chanina: If I was burned alone, I would feel bad; since they burn me with the Sefer Torah, Hash-m will avenge the burning of the Torah, and also the burning of me.
3. His Talmidim: What do you see?
4. R. Chanina: The margins of the parchment are burning, the letters are flying in the air.
5. His Talmidim: Open your mouth, so the fire will enter and you will die quickly!
6. R. Chanina: Hash-m gave me my soul, He will take it, not I.
7. The executioner: Rebbi, if I increase the fire and remove the sponges, will you bring me to the world to come?
8. R. Chanina agreed, and swore to him about this. The executioner did as he said; R. Chanina died quickly, and the executioner jumped into the fire.
9. A voice from Heaven: R. Chanina and the executioner are prepared for the world to come.
(p) Rebbi cried: Some acquire their share in the world to come in a moment, some acquire their share over the course of many years!
(a) Bruriya, R. Meir's wife, was also R. Chanina's daughter; she was distraught that her sister was in a harlot's booth. R. Meir was confident that if she was still a Tzadekes, Hash-m would miraculously enable him to redeem her.
(b) He took a great amount of money and dressed up like a (Roman) soldier. He went to her booth, and requested her services.
1. R. Chanina's daughter: I cannot, I am menstruating!
2. R. Meir: I will wait for you!
3. R. Chanina's daughter: There are many girls here prettier than me!
(c) R. Meir understood that she would say this to everyone, and never sinned. He asked her guardian to release her.
1. The guardian: I fear the kingdom!
2. R. Meir: Take this money; half you can use to bribe your overseer when he threatens you (Rashi; Tosfos - you will give it in place of the tax they collect for each harlot), the other half you can enjoy.
3. The guardian: What will I do when the money runs out?
4. R. Meir: Say 'G-d of Meir, answer me!' and you will be saved.

5. The guardian: Who says that I will be answered?
6. R. Meir demonstrated: he threw dirt at vicious dogs, inciting them to eat him. He said 'G-d of Meir, answer me'; the dogs left him alone.
(d) The guardian released her. The king found out; they hung him on a gallows. He said 'G-d of Meir, answer me'; he came down.
1. The executioners: What is going on?
2. The guardian explained. They carved R. Meir's image on the gates of Romi, and announced that whoever sees him should seize him.
(e) One day, he was seen;
1. Version #1: He fled to a house of harlotry.
2. Version #2: He found food of Nochrim; he dipped fingers in it, and sucked (different) fingers.
3. Version #3: Eliyahu assumed the form of a harlot, and was embracing him.
(f) His pursuers: That cannot be R. Meir!
(g) Version #1: On account of this, R. Meir fled to Bavel.
(h) Version #2: R. Meir fled to Bavel out of shame over his wife (who succumbed to temptation and killed herself out of shame).
(a) (Beraisa #1): The following are forbidden on account of frivolity: going to stadiums (e.g. bullfighting) or a siege around a city where they engage in witchcraft, snake-charming, or other frivolity;
1. "Ashrei...Lo Halach...Ki Im b'Toras Hash-m" - going to frivolity causes one to be idle from Torah.
(b) Contradiction (Beraisa #2): It is permitted to go to stadiums, for (if a Yisrael is thrown to the bull) one can scream to save him;
1. It is permitted to go to a siege around a city, for if they conquer the city, he may be able to save Yisraelim inside.
2. One may not encourage them to besiege the city (Rashi; Tosfos - one may not be counted among the soldiers).
(c) Answer - part 1: We can resolve the contradiction regarding a siege - Beraisa #1 forbids it when the Yisrael encourages (Tosfos - is counted with) them.
(d) Answer - part 2: Tana'im argue whether or not we may go to a stadium.
1. (Beraisa): It is forbidden to go to a stadium, it is frivolity;
2. R. Noson permits it for two reasons: perhaps he can scream to save a Yisrael, or at least he will be able to testify that he died to permit the widow to remarry.
(e) (Beraisa - R. Meir): It is forbidden to go to theatres and stadiums because they are Mezavel (Rashi - oversee the needs of; Tosfos - sacrifice to) idolatry;
(f) Chachamim say, where they are Mezavel, it is forbidden lest people think that he is Mezavel; where they are not Mezavel, it is forbidden on account of frivolity.
(g) Question: What is the difference between them?
(h) Answer (R. Chanina mi'Sura): If he bought or sold there. (According to R. Meir, we are concerned for money of idolatry, it is forbidden b'Diavad, Chachamim permit it.)
(i) (R. Shimon ben Pazi) Question: "Ashrei...Lo Halach...Lo Amad uv'Moshav Letzim Lo Yashav" - since he did not go, of course he did not stand; since he did not stand, of course he did not sit, of course he did not scoff!
(j) Answer (R. Shimon ben Pazi): The verse teaches that had he gone, in the end he would have stood; had he stood, in the end he would have sat; had he sat, in the end he would have scoffed.
1. Regarding frivolity, it says "V'Latzta Levadecha Tisa" (you will bear the punishment yourself).
(k) (R. Elazar): Anyone who scoffs is afflicted - "Al Tislotzatzu Pen Yechzeku Mosereichem".
(l) Rava: Please don't scoff, so you won't bring afflictions on yourselves.
(m) (Rav Ketina): Anyone who scoffs, his income will be reduced - "(Hash-m) Mashach Yado Es Lotzetzim".
(n) (Reish Lakish): Anyone who scoffs falls to Gehinom - "Letz...b'Evras Zadon";
1. 'Evrah' refers to Gehinom - "Yom Evrah ha'Yom ha'Hu".
(o) (R. Oshaya): Anyone who gets haughty falls to Gehinom - "Zed Yahir...b'Evras Zadon";
1. 'Evrah' refers to Gehinom - "Yom Evrah..."
(p) (R. Chanila'i bar Chanila'i): Anyone who scoffs brings destruction to the world - "Al Tislotzatzu...Ki Cholah v'Necheratzah".
(q) (R. Elazar): Scoffery is severe, it starts with punishments and ends with destruction.
(r) (R. Shimon ben Pazi): "Ashrei...Lo Halach ba'Atzas Resha'im" - to the theatres and stadiums of Nochrim;
1. "Uv'Derech Chataim Lo Amad" - he did not stand among people who hunt for fun;
2. "Uv'Moshav Letzim Lo Yashav" - he did not sit among people planning evil;
3. Suggestion: Since he did not go to the theatres or, and he did not stand among hunters, he may indulge in sleep!
4. Rejection: "Uv'Soraso Yehgeh Yomam va'Lailah".
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