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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Avodah Zarah 43

AVODAH ZARAH 43 (23 Nisan) - dedicated by Mr. Avy Reichman of Queens, NY, l'Iluy Nishmas his father, Dovid ben Avraham, on the day of his Yahrzeit.


(a) Question: But the third clause says 'all forms are permitted, except for a Darkon' - it is permitted to make a Darkon!
1. "Lo Sa'asun Iti Elohei Kesef..." - Hash-m's servants above are forbidden, not the form of a Darkon!
(b) Answer: We must say, this clause discusses benefit from images that one found.
1. (Mishnah): If one finds...Darkon, he should cast them into the Dead Sea.
(c) Question: Do the first and last clauses discuss benefit from found images, and the second clause discusses making them?!
(d) Answer #1 (Abaye): Yes!
(e) Answer #2 (Rava): The entire Beraisa discusses benefit from found images; the second clause is like R. Yehudah.
1. (Beraisa - R. Yehudah): Also the forms of a nursing woman and the ruler who looked after the world (are forbidden).
i. These represent Chavah, who (effectively) nursed the entire world (by nursing her children, from whom the whole world descends) and Yosef, who fed the entire world (during the years of famine).
ii. The form of a woman is forbidden only if she is nursing, the form of a man is forbidden only if he is giving food from a bucket.
(f) (Beraisa - R. Shimon ben Elazar): What is the form of a Darkon? Any (serpent) with fins (some say - hairs) between the joints.
(g) (Rav Asi): This refers to the joints of the neck.
(h) (R. Chama b'Rebbi Chanina): The Halachah follows R. Shimon ben Elazar.
(a) (Rabah bar bar Chanah): Once, R. Elazar ha'Kapar found a ring on the road with a form of a Darkon. A Nochri child came by; R. Elazar did nothing. An adult Nochri came; R. Elazar asked him to nullify it.
1. The Nochri did not; R. Elazar slapped him, and the Nochri nullified it.
(b) We learn three laws from this:
1. A Nochri can nullify his idolatry or that of another Nochri;
2. He can only nullify if he is proficient in idolatry;
3. Nullification works even if the Nochri was coerced.
(c) Question (R. Chanina): Does R. Elazar argue with the following?!
1. (Beraisa - R. Shimon ben Elazar): One may keep the following: what he saves from a lion, bear, leopard, polecat, what he finds deposited by the high tide, at the bottom of the river, in a big encampment or thoroughfare, or any place where many people pass;
2. This is because the owner despairs.
(d) Answer (Abaye): Granted, the owner despairs of getting it back, but he does not despair that it will be Ne'evad (therefore, it is still forbidden);
1. The owner reasons: if a Nochri found it, he will worship it; if a Yisrael finds it, since it is expensive, he will sell it to a Nochri, who will worship it.
(a) (Mishnah): R. Gamliel had forms of the moon on a tablet on the wall; he would ask witnesses who saw the new moon which forms resembled what they saw.
(b) Question: "Lo Sa'asun Iti" - do not make things in the form of things that serve Me!
(c) Answer #1 (Abaye): The Torah only forbids replicas in the same dimensions.
1. (Beraisa): It is forbidden to build a house (whose dimensions are) like those of the Heichal, an Achsadra (a building open in (at least) one direction) like the Ulam (the hall in front of the Heichal), a courtyard like the Azarah, a table like the table in the Heichal;
2. It is permitted to make a Menorah of any number of branches except for seven; seven is forbidden to make from any metal;
3. R. Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah says, even wood is forbidden, the Chashmona'im made a wooden Menorah (after defeating the Yevanim, who had taken all the vessels from the Mikdash).
4. Chachamim: No, it was of iron, and covered with tin; when they got richer, they made it of silver; when they got richer, they made it of gold.
(d) Question: Is it really true that replicas that cannot be in the same dimensions are permitted?!
1. (Beraisa): "Lo Sa'asun Iti" - do not make things in the form of those who serve Me *above*!
(e) Answer (Abaye): This only forbids a form with the four faces of a Chayah (a type of angel).

(f) Question: This implies that a human face is permitted!
1. (Beraisa): All faces are permitted, except for a human face.
(g) Answer (Rav Huna brei d'Rav Yehoshua): We read "Lo Sa'asun Iti" like "Lo Sa'asun *Osi*" - do not make (a human face, for man was made in) My image;
1. Other servants of Hash-m are permitted.
(h) Question (Beraisa): "Lo Sa'asun Iti" - do not make things in the form of those who serve Me above, such as (various levels of angels -) Ofanim, Serafim, Chayos ha'Kodesh, or ministering angels.
(i) Answer (Abaye): The Torah only forbids forms of those who serve Hash-m above.
(j) Question: Hash-m's servants below (the sun and moon...) are also forbidden!
1. (Beraisa): "Asher ba'Shamayim" - this includes the sun, moon, stars and constellations; "mi'Ma'al" - this includes ministering angels.
(k) Answer: That teaches that it is forbidden to worship them (but one may make their forms).
(l) Question: It is forbidden to worship anything (except Hash-m), even a worm!
(m) Answer: Correct! We learn from the end of the verse "Asher ba'Aretz" - this includes seas, rivers and mountains; "mi'Tachas" - even a small worm.
(n) Question: It is forbidden to make forms (of Hash-m's servants, even if he will not worship them - how could R. Gamliel make forms of the moon?)!
1. (Beraisa): "Lo Sa'asun Iti" - do not make forms of those who serve Me above, such as the sun, moon, stars and constellations.
(o) Answer #1: A Nochri made them for R. Gamliel.
1. Question: But a Nochri made Rav Yehudah's signet ring, and Shmuel told him to damage its form!
2. Answer: His ring had a protruding form, he told him to blunt it to avoid suspicion.
i. (Beraisa): If a signet ring has a protruding form, it is forbidden to wear it, it is permitted to sign with it (for this makes a recessed form);
ii. If it has a recessed form, it is permitted to wear it, it is forbidden to sign with it (for this makes a protruding form).
3. Question: Are we really concerned that people will suspect Yisraelim of idolatry?!
i. A statue was placed in the synagogue of Shaf v'Yasiv (some explain, its stones were taken from Yerushalayim to Bavel); Levi and Shmuel's father prayed in the synagogues, they were not concerned for suspicion!
4. Answer: People will suspect an individual, but not a congregation.
5. Question: R. Gamliel was an individual, he should have been concerned!
6. Answer #1: He was the Nasi, people constantly came to him, he is considered like a congregation.
7. Answer #2: R. Gamliel's images came in parts, he would only assemble them when needed (therefore, there was no suspicion).
(p) Answer #2: For the sake of learning, such images are allowed.
1. (Beraisa): "Lo Silmad La'asos (do not learn Kishuf (magic))" - but you may learn in order to understand and give Halachic rulings.
(a) (Mishnah - R. Shimon ben Gamliel): Images on dignified (vessels) are forbidden, those on disgraceful (vessels) are permitted.
(b) Question: What are considered dignified (vessels), what are disgraceful (vessels)?
(c) Answer #1 (Rav): Above the level of water (that is held in the vessel) is (the) dignified (*part of* a vessel), below the water level is (the) disgraceful (part of a vessel).
(d) Objection (Shmuel): All parts of such vessels are disgraceful;
(e) Answer #2 (Shmuel): Dignified vessels are bracelets, noserings and rings (ornaments); disgraceful vessels are pots, kettles, sheets and cloths (R. Chananel's text - coins) (they are used).
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