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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Avodah Zarah 18



(a) We learned in the Mishnah in Sanhedrin that someone who denies that Torah is min ha'Shamayim or that Techi'as ha'Meisim is mentioned in the Torah, receives no portion in Olam ha'Ba. Aba Shaul adds to that - someone who pronounces the Name of Hashem the way it is written.

(b) We reconcile Rebbi Chanina ben T'radyon (who did in fact do that) with the Mishnah, by citing a Beraisa. The Tana learns from the Pasuk (in connection with the various practices of the Nochrim) "Lo Silmad La'asos ... " - that the prohibition is confined to learning these things in order to put into practice, but does not apply to someone who learns them in order to put them to use in court.

(c) Rebbi Chanina was nevertheless punished - because he pronounced Hashem's Holy Name in public. Alternatively, it is because there are certain issues where a great man ought to take a strict line.

(d) According to the alternative explanation, the Heter of "Lo Silmad La'asos ... " - will apply to Kishuf (black magic [in order to sentence transgressors]) and drawing pictures of the moon (for the purpose of Kidush Levanah).

(a) Resh Lakish explained the Pasuk "Avon Akeivai Yesubeini" to mean - that one will be taken to task even for the careful steps that one takes (like the daughter of Rebbi Chanina ben T'radyon) or for those (seemingly) minor infractions which people trample underfoot.

(b) With regard to the current episode, it was ...

1. ... Rebbi Chanina hmself who said "ha'Tzur Tamim Pa'alo ki Chol Derachav Mishpat".
2. ... his wife who said "Keil Emunah ve'Ein Avel" (see Agados Maharsha) ...
(c) ... his daughter who said the Pasuk "Gadol ha'Eitzah ve'Rav ha'Aliliyah Asher Einecha Pekuchos al Kol *Darkei Ish*" (aknowledgement that Hashem is aware even of one's the footsteps).

(d) Rav commented - on the righteousness of these three Tzadikim, who recited the ideal quotations of Tziduk ha'Din at the appropriate moment.

(a) When Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma was sick, Rebbi Chanina ben T'radyon went to visit him. The former ...
1. ... criticised the latter's public Torah teaching - on the grounds that Hashem appointed the Romans as the ruling power, and gave them jurisdiction over us, to destroy His Beis-Hamikdash, burn His Heichal, kill His pious ones and destroy the Tzadikim, Consequently, one ought to accept their decrees and not publicly flaunt their orders.
2. ... rebuked Rebbi Chanina for stating that Hashem would have mercy on him, in reply to his meaningful statement. He foresaw - that they would burn him together with the Sefer-Torah that he was holding.
(b) When Rebbi Chanina's asked him whether he would go to Olam ha'Ba, he replied by asking him whether any good deeds had come his way.

(c) Rebbi Chanina then told Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma -that his own Purim-money once became mixed up with the money in the Kupah shel Tzedakah, and he gave it all to the poor, prompting Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma to reply 'me'Chelkecha Yehei Chelki ... !' (May I merit a reward like you!').

(a) When Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma died - all the Roman dignitaries attended his Levayah and even eulogized him.

(b) Upon their return, they found Rebbi Chanina ben T'radyon, with a Sefer-Torah in his bosom - initiating large gatherings to teach them Torah

(c) They wrapped him in his Sefer-Torah - and burned them together.

(d) To ensure that he died a slow, painful death - they soaked wads of cotton-wool in water and placed them on his heart.

(a) When ...
1. ... his daughter expressed pain in seeing him that way - Rebbi Chanina replied that it would indeed have been bad had he been burned alone. However, now that he was being burned together with the Sefer-Torah, the One who will avenge the Sefer-Torah's honor, will take his part too.
2. ... his Talmidim asked him what he saw, he repied that he saw the parchment being burned, and the letters flying in the air (a hint that one can destroy the body of Yisrael but not their Soul).
3. ... they advised him to open his mouth and let in the fumes, so that he would die more quickly, he replied - that it would be better for the One who placed his Neshamah inside him should be the one to take it back.
(b) The executioner asked him ...
1. ... initially - whether, if he were to add fuel to increase the flames and remove the wads of cotton-wool from Rebbi Chanina's heart, he would bring him to Olam ha'Ba.
2. ... after he had already replied in the affirmative - to swear to that effect (which he did).
(c) Rebbi Chanina ben T'radyon died soon afterwards. The executioner - jumped into the flames and died together with him.

(d) After the bas-Kol announced that both Rebbi Chanina and the executioner were ready to go to Olam ha'Ba immediately, Rebbi wept, and declared - that some people acquire their Olam ha'Ba in a flash, whilst others do so in many years.

(a) Rebbi Meir's wife B'ruri'ah was concerned about the shameful situation of Rebbi Chanina's daughter - because she happened to be her sister.

(b) To free her sister - she enlisted the help of her husband, by simply telling him about her concern.

(c) Rebbi Meir payed his sister-in-law a visit in the brothel, incognito. When he ...

1. ... accosted her - she feigned being a Nidah.
2. ... told her that he was willing to wait for her - she disuaded him on the grounds that there were plenty of women available who were more beautiful than her.
(d) He drew the conclusion - that she had obviously retained her purity (because what she had said to him, she obviously said to any other men who might have accosted her).

(e) Rebbi Meir's motive for doing that was - because he knew that if she was free of sin, then she would be worthy of the miracle that was now enfolding itself. Otherwise not.

(a) He then approached the guard. When, initially, the latter refused to allow Rebbi Chanina's daughter to go with him, Rebbi Meir produced three Kav of golden Dinrim - which he offered him as a bribe, one Kav for himself, and the other two, to bribe the authorities (whenever they began their investigations).

(b) He advised him, that when the money ran out - he should say 'Elaka de'Meir Aneini!'

(c) The guard was naturally sceptical about that. Rebbi Meir proved to him however, that those words were really effective - by inciting some wild killer dogs by throwing clods of earth at them, and then, when they attacked him, he simply declared 'Elaka de'Meir Aneini'. At which point, the dogs left.

(d) Subsequently, the authorities got to hear what had happened, and sent the guard to the gallows. He repeated the words as instructed by Rebbi Meir, and the hangman was unable to hang him.




(a) When the guard divulged all that had transpired, the authorities put up a wanted notice at the gate of Rome - in the form of a bust of Rebbi Meir, with orders that whoever sees the man who resembles the bust must hand him in.

(b) When one day, he was spotted, and the chase was on, he put off his pursuers - by running into a brothel, the last place where anyone would expect such a Tzadik to enter ('I Safra, Lo Sayfa').

(c) Alternatively, he began to eat Bishul Akum - at least, he pretended to, by dipping one finger into the food, and another finger into his mouth.

(d) According to others, he met Eliyahu - in disguise as a Zonah, whom he began to embrace (quickly dispelling the notion that this was Rebbi Meir).

(e) According to some, it was a result of this episode that Rebbi Meir fled to Bavel; whereas according to others, it was the episode with his wife B'ruri'ah, where as a result of a test that he put her through and which she failed, she committed suicide (as we learned in Kidushin). Out of embarrassment, Rebbi Meir moved to Bavel.

(a) The Beraisa talks about someone who goes to watch the bull-fights described in our Mishnah, or Karkom. 'Karkom' - is a besieging army.

(b) The Tana applies the title 'Moshav Leitzim' to those who watch ...

1. ...the Nachshim and Chaverim (entertainers who perform there different forms of witchcraft concerning animals).
2. ... Bukyon, Mukyon, Mulyon and Lulyon ... - which describe what is a kind of variety show of fun and jokes. Note, that some opinions forbid watching the Itztadin anyway, because it constitutes murder (see Rabeinu Chananel).
(c) The Pasuk in Tehilim that serves as the source for the prohibition of watching these entertainments is - "Ashrei ha'Ish Asher Lo Halach ... u've'Moshav Leitzim Lo Yashav. Ki Im be'Soras Hashem Cheftzo ... ".

(d) Another Beraisa permits attending both Itztadin and Karkom. The Tana allows attending ...

1. ... 'Itztadin' - because sometimes it is possible to plead with the authorities and save Jewish captives fighting with the bulls.
2. ... 'Karkom' - the army in the course of a siege if it is possible to help one's fellow-Jews in the town under siege.
(a) We reconcile the two Beraisos regarding Karkom, by establishing the former Beraisa when he is 'Mis'chashev Imahen', which means - provided he does assist the besieging army (see also Tosfos DH 'she'Lo Yis'chashev').

(b) Whereas the discrepancy regarding Itztadin we resolve by establishing the second Beraisa like Rebbi Nasan, who permits attending a session of bull-fighting - in order to permit the wives of Jewish victims who died to remarry, by testifying that their husbands have been killed.

(a) In another Beraisa, Rebbi Meir forbids attending 'theaters and circuses' because these occasions were used to arrange the needs of Avodah-Zarah and collect donations on its behalf (see also Tosfos DH 'she'Mezavlin Sham'). According to the Chachamim - even when they are not, it is forbidden because it is a Moshav Leitzim.

(b) Despite the fact that both opinions forbid it anyway, the ramifications of the Machlokes, Rebbi Chanina from Sura explains - will be manifest in a case where, according to the Chachamim, they do no prepare for Avodah-Zarah, and a Yisrael sells them something in such a 'theater or circus', in which case, the money will be Mutar be'Hana'ah; whereas according to Rebbi Meir it will be forbidden (since, in his opinion, they inevitably prepare there for Avodah-Zarah).

(c) The problem with the Pasuk "Ashrei ha'Ish Asher Lo Halach ba'Atzas Resha'im, u've'Derech Chata'im Lo Halach, u've'Moshav Leitzim Lo Yashav" is - that if one hasn't gone, how can one stand, and how can one then sit.

(d) Rebbi Shimon ben Pazi resolves the problem - by interpreting the Pasuk as a warning: Someone who merely passes by, will be tempted to stop and watch, and from there, sitting and participating is but one short step away.

(e) When he says "Im Chakamta Chakamta Lecha, ve'Latzta Levadca Tisa" (see Agados Maharsha) - Shlomoh means that it is only in one's own mind that Letzanus contain Chochmah, and that consequently, one will have to pay for having indulged in it.

(a) Rebbi Elazar learns from the Pasuk in Yeshayah "ve'Atah Al Tislotzetzu Pen Yechezku Moserchem" - that someone who indulges in Letzanus will suffer Yisurin.

(b) Rava begged his Talmidim - not to indulge in Letzanus, so as not to suffer Yisurin.

(c) According to Rav Ketina, Letzim are destined to go short of food. Resh Lakish explains the Pasuk "Zeid Yahir Letz Sh'mo, Oseh be'Evras Zadon", to mean - that whoever indulges in Letzanus will end up in Gehinom (which is described as "Evras").

(d) Rebbi Oshaya explains the Pasuk in the same way, but in connection with the "Zeid Yahir" mentioned there - a Ba'al Ga'avah (someone who is vain or conceited).

(a) In the opinion of Rebbi Chanila'i bar Chanila'i (or Tanchum), the repercussions of Letzanus are more disastrous still. According to him - Letzanus brings destruction to the world.

(b) And according to Rebbi Elazar - Letzanus begins with Yisurin and (if one persists, it) ends with destruction.

(c) Rebbi Shimon ben Pazi Darshens the above Pasuk in Tehilim "Ashrei ha'Ish Asher Lo Halach" with reference to the Nochri's 'theaters and circuses' and "u've'Derech Chata'im Lo Amad", to 'Kenigyon' - hunting wild animals.

(d) We know that conforming with these instructions by lying under one's covers and sleeping one is still deficient - from the continuation of the Pasuk "Ki Im be'Soras Hashem Cheftzo, u've'Soraso Yehegeh Yomam va'Laylah".

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