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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
MISHNAH. THERE ARE THREE KINDS OF ASHERAH: A TREE WHICH HAS ORIGINALLY BEEN PLANTED FOR IDOLATRY — BEHOLD THIS IS PROHIBITED. IF HE LOPPED AND TRIMMED [A TREE] FOR IDOLATRY,1 AND ITS SPROUTED AFRESH, HE REMOVES THE NEW GROWTH. IF HE ONLY SET [AN IDOL] UNDER IT AND TOOK IT AWAY, BEHOLD THE TREE IS PERMITTED.
GEMARA. Those of the School of R. Jannai said: [When the Mishnah declares that he removes the new growth and then the tree is permitted,] it applies only when he trailed a branch and grafted it on the trunk of the tree.2 But surely we learnt in the Mishnah: IF HE [MERELY] LOPPED AND TRIMMED!3 — Therefore if the statement of the School of R. Jannai is quoted it must be with reference to annulment,4 viz., that although he trained a branch and grafted it on the trunk of the tree, if he removes the new growth [on the grafting], it is all right. For what you might have said was that since he trained a branch and grafted it on the trunk of the tree, it is like a tree which had been originally planted for idolatry and the whole of it is prohibited. Consequently we are informed [that it is not so].
Samuel said: If a man worshipped a tree, the branches which subsequently grow are also prohibited. R. Eleazar quoted against him: IF HE [MERELY] LOPPED AND TRIMMED [A TREE] FOR IDOLATRY, AND ITS SPROUTED AFRESH, HE REMOVES THE NEW GROWTH — therefore if he lopped and trimmed it the new growth is [prohibited] otherwise it is not! — Samuel could reply: Whose is [the teaching of the Mishnah]? It is the Rabbis',5 whereas Samuel's view agrees with that of R. Jose b. Judah who said: If a tree was planted and subsequently worshipped it is prohibited.6 R. Ashi objected to this explanation: How do we know that R. Jose b. Judah and the Rabbis differ on the question of the new growth? Perhaps they all agree that it is prohibited, and it is on the question of [the permissibility of] the trunk itself that they are at variance! For R. Jose b. Judah holds that the trunk [of a tree which has been worshipped] is likewise prohibited7 since it is stated, And burn their Asherim with fire, and the Rabbis hold that the trunk of the tree is permitted since it is stated, And hew down their Asherim-which tree has its hewn part prohibited while the trunk is permitted? Answer that it is a tree which had been planted and was subsequently worshipped! Should you retort to this: But we have not explained [the verses] in this way above!8 [I could reply:]9 Reverse the interpretation of the passages cited respectively by the Rabbis and R. Jose b. Judah!10 — [This is an impossible suggestion;] because if that were so, who taught the passage in the Mishnah: IF HE LOPPED AND TRIMMED?11 It cannot be either the Rabbis or R. Jose b. Judah; because according to the Rabbis, even if he did not lop and trim the tree, the new growth would still be prohibited, and according to R. Jose b. Judah even the trunk of the tree is prohibited! [No.] If you wish I can say that [the Mishnah agrees] with either the Rabbis or R. Jose b. Judah. I can say that it agrees with R. Jose b. Judah, because he maintained that the trunk is prohibited when the tree has not been lopped and trimmed,12 but if the man lopped and trimmed it then he revealed that his intention was to worship the new growth and not the trunk.13 I can likewise say that it agrees with the Rabbis, and [as to the phrase] IF HE LOPPED AND TRIMMED, It is necessary [to mention it] since I might have otherwise imagined that for the reason that he does this to the tree itself the trunk is also prohibited, Consequently we are informed [that the prohibition extends only to the new growth].14
MISHNAH. WHAT IS AN ASHERAH? ANY [TREE] BENEATH WHICH THERE IS AN IDOL. R. SIMEON SAYS: ANY [TREE] WHICH IS WORSHIPPED. IT HAPPENED AT SIDON15 THAT THERE WAS A TREE WHICH WAS WORSHIPPED AND THEY FOUND A HEAP OF STONES BENEATH IT. R. SIMEON SAID TO THEM, 'EXAMINE THIS HEAP.' THEY EXAMINED IT AND DISCOVERED AN IMAGE IN IT, HE SAID TO THEM, 'SINCE IT IS THE IMAGE THAT THEY WORSHIP, WE PERMIT THE TREE FOR YOU.'16
GEMARA. [The Mishnah asks:] WHAT IS AN ASHERAH? But we learnt above: There are three kinds of Asherah!17 — What he means is this: There is agreement about two kinds,18 but in connection with the third there is a difference of opinion between R. Simeon and the Rabbis. [Therefore the Mishnah must he construed thus:] What is the Asherah about which R. Simeon and the Rabbis differ? Any [tree] beneath which there is an idol. R. Simeon says: Any [tree] which is worshipped.
How is an Asherah which is not specified as such [to be recognised]?19 — Rab said: Any tree beneath which heathen priests sit but do not partake of its fruits.20 Samuel said: Even if [the priests beneath it] say, 'These dates are for a Christian place of worship,'21 the tree is prohibited because22 they brew an intoxicating liquor from them which they drink on their feast days. Amemar said: The elders of Pumbeditha23 told me that the legal decision is in agreement with Samuel.
‘Abodah Zarah 48b
MISHNAH. ONE MAY NOT SIT IN ITS SHADOW,1 BUT IF HE SAT HE IS UNDEFILED. NOR MAY HE PASS BENEATH IT,2 AND IF HE PASSED HE IS DEFILED. IF IT ENCROACHES UPON THE PUBLIC ROAD AND HE PASSED BENEATH HE IS UNDEFILED.3
GEMARA. [The Mishnah states:] ONE MAY NOT SIT IN ITS SHADOW — this is obvious!4 — Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: There is no necessity to mention it but for the case of the shadow of its shadow.5 Is it to be inferred that if he sat in the shadow corresponding to the height of the tree he is defiled? — No, because even if he sat in the shadow corresponding to the height of the tree he is also undefiled, yet we are informed that one may not sit even in the shadow of its shadow. There are some who apply this teaching to the continuation: BUT IF HE SAT HE IS UNDEFILED — this is obvious!6 — Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: There is no necessity to mention it but for the case of the shadow corresponding to the height of the tree. Is it to be inferred that even ab initio he may sit in the shadow of its shadow? No; but we are informed that even if he sat in the shadow corresponding to the height of the tree he is undefiled.7
NOR MAY HE PASS BENEATH IT, AND IF HE PASSED HE IS DEFILED. What is the reason? — Because it is impossible that there should be no [remains] of idolatrous offerings there. Whose teaching is this? — It is that of R. Judah b. Bathyra; for it has been taught: R. Judah b. Bathyra says: Whence is it that an idolatrous offering communicates defilement within a space which is covered over? Because it is said, They joined themselves also unto Baal-Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead8 — as a dead body communicates defilement in a space which is covered over, so an idolatrous offering communicates defilement in a space which is covered over.
IF IT ENCROACHES UPON THE PUBLIC ROAD AND HE PASSED BENEATH IT HE IS UNDEFILED. The question was asked: [Is the word to be read] 'passed' or 'passes'?9 — R. Isaac b. Eleazar said in the name of Hezekiah: It should be 'passes', but R. Johanan said: [The reading is] IF HE PASSED; and yet there is no difference of opinion between them — One [has in mind] if there is another road,10 and the other if there is not another road.
R. Shesheth11 said to his attendant, 'When you reach there,12 hurry me past.' How is this to be understood? If there was no other road, why need he say, 'Hurry me past, since it is permitted? If, however, there was another road, when he said, 'Hurry me past, was that permissible? Certainly there was no other road; but with an eminent man it is different.13
MISHNAH. THEY MAY SOW VEGETABLES BENEATH IT IN WINTER14 BUT NOT IN SUMMER,15 AND LETTUCE NEITHER IN SUMMER NOR WINTER.16 R. JOSE SAYS: NOR MAY VEGETABLES [BE PLANTED] IN WINTER BECAUSE THE FOLIAGE FALLS UPON THEM AND BECOMES MANURE FOR THEM.
GEMARA. Is this to say that R. Jose holds that a product of combined causes is prohibited17 and the Rabbis hold that a product of combined causes is permitted? But we heard the reverse in connection with them, for we have learnt: R. Jose says: He may grind [an idol] to powder and scatter it to the wind or throw it into the sea. They said to him: Even so it may then become manure, as it is stated, And there shall cleave nought of the devoted thing to thine hand!18 Here we have the Rabbis contradicting themselves and R. Jose contradicting himself!19 It is quite right, there is no contradiction in the teaching of R. Jose. In the case just cited since the man proceeds to destroy [the idol],20 [R. Jose] permits [the use of the dust as manure]; but in the case [dealt with in our Mishnah], where he does not proceed to destroy [the idol], [the dust] is prohibited [as manure]. But the Rabbis contradict themselves! — Reverse [the statements in our Mishnah].21 Or if you wish I can say that there is no need to reverse them.22 The opinion of R. Jose is as we explained;23 and that of the Rabbis is as R. Mari the son of R. Kahana said: What makes the hide valuable decreases the value of the meat.24 Similarly here, the benefit gained through the foliage is lost by reason of the shade.25
Does, however, R. Jose hold that a product of combined causes is prohibited? Behold We have learnt: R. Jose says: We may plant a young shoot which is 'orlah26 but not a nut which is 'orlah because it is fruit. And Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: R. Jose admits that if one planted [a nut which is 'orlah] or trained and grafted [a young shoot which is 'orlah on an old tree], [the fruit it grows] is permitted!27 It has been similarly taught R. Jose admits
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