Monday, January 16, 2012

Talmud Avodah Zarah 2a


There are times when I get really caught up in certain study matters. I would like to give you one example from a few years ago, where I had a special question and in order to find an answer, I asked all kinds of people and searched through any Talmudic commentary you can imagine. Eventually a Litvishe Jerusalem Kollel sent me an interesting answer. 

For those who are interested: It is necessary to have a bit of Talmudic understanding ! However, I am going to continue the subject in order to confront you with further Talmudic commentaries. 

My question to the Kollel was: 

The Mishna in Masechet Avodah Zarah / Amud 2a is talking about 3 days before the idol – worshipper’s holiday where you should not do business with them. 

According to Tosafot, the Yerushalmi and the RAMBAM (Mishna Torah), the in the above mentioned Mishna OVDEI KOCHAVIM are only in Eretz Israel and abroad they are called (Shomrei) MINHAG AVOTEIHEM. 

Could you please explain what (Shomrei) Minhag Avoteihem means, as, so far, I haven’t found a proper answer. 

If people in Chutz La’Aretz follow the Minhagim of their fathers, isn’t it Avodat Kochavim or idol – worship too ? What is the difference ? 

And here is the response from Rabbi Sigler:

Minhag Avoteihem be’Yadeihem means that they don’t take their religion very seriously – they are just going through the motions. What this means practically is that – for example – meat from animals that they slaughtered is Mutar be’Hana’a (it’s not kosher but we can feed it to our dogs) because they did not have their idol in mind when they slaughtered it (Talmud Tractate Chullin 13a). It does not mean that what they do is not considered idol – worship and that they are permitted to do it under Noachide law. 

Ovdei Kochavim in Eretz Israel take their religion more seriously but, according to the Gemara (Chullin 13b), not seriously enough to be considered Minim. A Min is someone who is Aduk (mentally attached) to his particular idol – worship (Rashi). Meat from an animal that he slaughters is Asur be’Hana’a (forbidden to derive any benefit from) because we assume that he slaughtered it in the name of his idol. Therefore, even in the times of Chazal only a small minority of non – Jews were bonafide idol – worshippers. The rest – even in Eretz Israel – were going through the motions to one degree or another.

1 comment:

  1. B"H

    Thought this article might interest you: