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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
Where have we [a difference between] R. Eliezer and the Rabbis on this question? Can I say it is [the difference] between them in the matter of leaven? For we have learnt: If common leaven and leaven of heave-offering fell into dough,7 and in each there was an insufficient quantity to cause fermentation, but added together they caused fermentation, R. Eliezer says: I decide according to which [leaven entered the dough] last.8 But the Sages say: Whether the disqualifying matter fell in first or last, [the dough] is not prohibited unless it is of a sufficient quantity by itself to cause fermentation.9 And Abaye explained: The teaching [of R. Eliezer] only applies when he first removed the disqualifying matter.10 but if he did not first remove the disqualifying matter, [the dough] is prohibited.11 But whence do we know that R. Eliezer's meaning is that offered by Abaye; perhaps his meaning is to be derived from the words, 'I decide according to which [leaven] entered [the dough] last,' i.e., if it ended with what is forbidden then [the dough] is forbidden and if it ended with what is permitted then [the dough] is permitted, whether he first removed the disqualifying matter or not!12
Rather is it [the difference] between R. Eliezer and the Rabbis on the question of the wood [of an Asherah]; for we learn: If one took pieces of wood from it, they are forbidden to be used. If he heated a new oven with them, it must be taken to pieces; [if he kindled] an old oven with them, it must be allowed to cool. If he baked bread [in an oven so heated], it is forbidden to be used, and if [the loaf] became mixed with other loaves, they are all prohibited. R. Eliezer says: Let him cast the advantage [he derives] into the Salt Sea. [The Sages] said to him: There is no redemption with an idol.13 Now which Rabbis14 differ from R. Eliezer? If I say it is the Rabbis [whose opinion has been quoted on the subject] of the pieces of wood, they take the stricter view!15 — Therefore it must be the Rabbis [whose opinion has been quoted on the subject] of the leaven.16 But, then, even though you understood the Rabbis to take the lenient view in connection with leaven, does it follow that they take the lenient view in connection with idolatry!17 Surely, then, one opinion is R. Jose's and the other is the Rabbis';18 and R. Jose19 is merely discussing the statement of the Rabbis, saying to them: According to my opinion, the product of combined causes is permitted; but according to you who maintain that the product of combined causes is prohibited, at least admit to me that20 also [the sowing of] vegetables in winter [is prohibited]!21 But the Rabbis [make reply] as R. Mari son of R. Kahana stated.22 Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: The halachah agrees with R. Jose.
There was a garden manured with the manure obtained from an idolatrous source. R. Amram sent to R. Joseph [to know how to act with the fruits]. He replied to him: Thus said Rab Judah in the name of Samuel: The halachah agrees with R. Jose.
‘Abodah Zarah 49b
MISHNAH. IF ONE TOOK PIECES OF WOOD FROM IT, THEY ARE FORBIDDEN TO BE USED — IF HE HEATED A NEW OVEN WITH THEM, IT MUST BE BROKEN TO PIECES;1 [IF HE HEATED] AN OLD OVEN WITH THEM, IT MUST BE ALLOWED TO COOL.2 IF HE BAKED BREAD [IN AN OVEN SO HEATED], IT IS FORBIDDEN TO BE USED, AND IF [THE LOAF] BECAME MIXED WITH OTHER LOAVES, THEY ARE ALL PROHIBITED,3 R. ELIEZER SAYS: LET HIM CAST THE ADVANTAGE [HE DERIVES] INTO THE SALT SEA.4 [THE SAGES] SAID TO HIM: THERE IS NO REDEMPTION WITH AN IDOL. IF ONE TOOK [A PIECE OF WOOD] FROM IT [TO USE AS] A SHUTTLE, IT IS FORBIDDEN TO BE USED. IF HE WOVE A GARMENT WITH IT, IT IS FORBIDDEN TO BE USED. IF [THE GARMENT) BECAME MIXED WITH OTHERS, AND THESE WITH OTHERS, THEY ARE ALL FORBIDDEN TO BE USED. R. ELIEZER SAYS: LET HIM CAST THE ADVANTAGE [HE DERIVES] INTO THE SALT SEA. [THE SAGES] SAID TO HIM: THERE IS NO REDEMPTION WITH AN IDOL.
GEMARA. It was necessary [to mention both illustrations, baking and weaving]; because if he had informed us of only the first [it might have been supposed] that R. Eliezer makes his remark because at the time when the loaf is finished [baking, the wood which is] the prohibited material has been consumed; but in the case of the shuttle, since it remains discernible as a forbidden object [after the weaving is finished] conclude that he agrees with the Rabbis.5 If, on the other hand, he had only informed us of the illustration of the shuttle, [it might have been supposed] that the Rabbis make their remark in connection with it alone, but in the case of a loaf conclude that they agree with R. Eliezer.6 [Therefore both are] necessary.
R. Hiyya, son of Rabbah b. Nahmani, said in the name of R. Hisda: Ze'iri said that the halachah agrees with R. Eliezer. Others declare that R. Hisda said: Abba son of R. Hisda informed me that Ze'iri said: The halachah agrees with R. Eliezer.
R. Adda b. Ahabah said: They only differ in the matter of the loaf, but not in the matter of a cask of wine.7 But R. Hisda said: Even a cask of wine is permitted.8 An instance occurred of a man who mixed a cask of yen nesek9 with his own wine. He came before R. Hisda who told him, 'Take four zuz10 and throw them into the river and the wine will then be permitted to you [to dispose of].'11
MISHNAH. HOW DOES ONE ANNUL [AN ASHERAH]? IF [A HEATHEN] PRUNED OR TRIMMED IT,12 REMOVING FROM IT A STICK OR TWIG OR EVEN A LEAF, BEHOLD IT IS ANNULLED. IF HE CHIPPED IT TO EMBELLISH IT, IS IS PROHIBITED; BUT IF NOT TO EMBELLISH IT, IS IT PERMITTED.
GEMARA. What of the pieces chipped off?13 — R. Huna and Hiyya b. Rab differ in opinion. One said that they are prohibited, the other that they are permitted — There is a teaching in agreement with him who said that they are permitted, for it has been taught: If an idolater chipped off an idol to make use of the pieces, it and the pieces are permitted, and if he did so to embellish it, it is prohibited but its pieces are permitted; but if an Israelite chipped off an idol, whether to make use of the pieces or for its embellishment, it and the pieces are prohibited.14
It has been stated: If an idol was broken of its own accord, Rab said: It is necessary to annul every fragment;15 but Samuel said: An idol is only annulled when it is in its natural form!16 — On the contrary, does one annul it when it is in its natural form!17 — But thus he means to say: An idol need not be annulled except when it is in its natural form.18 Is this to say that they differ on this point: One holds that [idolaters] worship fragments [of idols] and the other holds that they do not worship fragments? — No, they all agree that idolaters worship fragments; and here they differ with respect to the fragments of the fragments. One holds that the fragments of the fragments are prohibited and the other holds that they are permitted. Or if you wish, I can say that they all agree that the fragments of the fragments are permitted, and here they differ with respect to an idol which is formed in sections19 and in connection with an ordinary man who is able to restore it.20 One holds that since an ordinary man is able to restore it, it is not annulled; while the other holds that an idol can only be annulled when it is in its natural form, that is, the form it normally assumes.21 So in this instance it is not in its natural form,22 and there is no need to annul it.
MISHNAH. R. ISHMAEL SAYS: IF THREE STONES ARE LYING SIDE BY SIDE NEXT TO A MERCURIUS,23 THEY ARE PROHIBITED; IF THERE ARE TWO THEY ARE PERMITTED. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAY: IF [THE STONES] ARE SEEN TO BE CONNECTED WITH IT THEY ARE PROHIBITED:24 BUT IF THEY DO NOT APPEAR TO BE CONNECTED WITH IT THEY ARE PERMITTED.25
GEMARA. The opinion of the Rabbis26 is clear. They maintain that [idolaters] worship the fragments [of their idols], so that when [the stones] are seen to be connected with it, the assumption is that they fell from it and are prohibited, but if they do not appear to be connected with it they are permitted. What, however, does R. Ishmael maintain? If he holds that [idolaters] worship the fragments, then even two stones should be prohibited; and if he holds that they do not worship the fragments, then even three stones should not [be prohibited]! — R. Isaac b. Joseph said in the name of R. Johanan: When it is certain that they dropped from the idol, all agree that they are prohibited, and even according to him who says that they do not worship fragments [and so these may be used], this only applies to an idol which has not that form;27 whereas here [with the Mercurius, the stones are] from the outset detached28 and that is its normal form. When, therefore, [R. Ishmael and the Rabbis] differ, it must be in connection with stones which cannot be determined.29
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