AVODAH ZARAH 49 (18 Adar) - Dedicated by Harav Shlomo Weinberger of Brooklyn, NY, in memory of his father, Reb Chaim Tzvi ben Reb Shlomo Weinberger, whose Yahrzeit is 18 Adar. Reb Chaim Tzvi, a Holocaust survivor who raised his family in a new country, bequeathed his children a steadfast commitment to Torah and its study.
1) VEGETABLES PLANTED BENEATH AN "ASHEIRAH" TREE
QUESTIONS: The Rabanan and Rebbi Yosi argue in the Mishnah about whether one is permitted to plant vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree in the winter. The Rabanan permit it, because the shade of the Asheirah tree does not benefit the vegetables planted beneath it during the winter. Rebbi Yosi prohibits it, because the foliage of the Asheirah fall on the vegetables, serving as fertilizer and helping them to grow. Since the vegetables grow due to the effects of something permitted (the nutrients in the soil) and the effects of something prohibited (the leaves of the Asheirah tree), it is a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi maintains that the Halachah in a case of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is that the object is forbidden. This is the way the Gemara originally understands the opinion of Rebbi Yosi.
However, the Gemara later proves that Rebbi Yosi himself permits an object of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" in other situations. The Gemara concludes, therefore, that it is the Rabanan who prohibit "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi, who heard that the Rabanan permit planting vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree during the winter, questions their view. He asks that the Rabanan, who maintain that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is forbidden, should prohibit planting beneath an Asheirah even during the winter, since the falling leaves fertilize the plants, causing a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi himself, though, permits planting beneath an Asheirah since he maintains that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted.
There are a number of questions on this Gemara.
(a) Rebbi Yosi challenges the Rabanan, saying that since they maintain that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is forbidden, planting beneath an Asheirah during the winter should be prohibited. How does Rebbi Yosi know that the Rabanan maintain that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is prohibited? Presumably, Rebbi Yosi infers this from the fact that the Rabanan prohibit planting underneath the Asheirah during the summer months (because of the shade that the tree provides). The shade is only a single factor out of many in the growth of the vegetables, and thus it cannot prohibit the planting unless "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is prohibited.
However, this seems to contradict the Gemara's initial assumption, in which the Gemara understands that Rebbi Yosi prohibits planting in the winter because "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is forbidden, while the Rabanan permit it because they rule that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted! This shows that the Gemara was ready to accept that the Rabanan prohibit planting beneath an Asheirah in the summer, even though "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted! Apparently, the shade that an Asheirah provides during the summer is more significant in the growth of the plants than the fertilizer that its leaves provide. The reason for this is that the shade is not simply another growth factor that can be combined with the soil and the fertilizer; rather, it is an entirely different form of protection of the plants (as TOSFOS explains on 48b, DH v'Rabanan). Since the Asheirah provides the plant's entire protection from the sun (with no additional factors providing that protection), it is not considered a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem."
According to the Gemara's conclusion, how can Rebbi Yosi infer from the fact that the Rabanan prohibit planting beneath the Asheirah in the summer that they prohibit a case of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem"? Planting under the shade of the Asheirah is a single "Gorem" and is not considered "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem"! (RAMBAN)
(b) Rebbi Yosi himself permits planting beneath the Asheirah during both summer and winter (according to the Gemara's conclusion), because he maintains that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted. This implies that in a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" one is permitted to benefit from a prohibited object l'Chatchilah. However, this cannot be true, because if one is permitted to benefit from an object of Isurei Hana'ah by combining it with another object that is permitted, then all objects of Isurei Hana'ah should have an inherent value, since it is possible to derive benefit from them in a particular way. However, the Gemara in Kidushin (56b) teaches that objects that are Asur b'Hana'ah are considered totally valueless and must be destroyed. Apparently, even benefiting from them in a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is prohibited l'Chatchilah, as TOSFOS (48b, DH v'Ein) proves. Why, then, is one permitted to plant vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah by relying on the law that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted? (RAMBAN)
(a) The RAMBAN answers that Rebbi Yosi infers that the Rabanan prohibit "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" not from the Mishnah here but from a different Mishnah. In the Mishnah earlier (43b), cited at the beginning of the Sugya here, the Rabanan argue with Rebbi Yosi and prohibit discarding Avodah Zarah by grinding it into dust and throwing it into the wind, because the dust will then serve as fertilizer and provide benefit. This is where the Rabanan imply that using a prohibited object as fertilizer in a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is prohibited.
However, the other Rishonim disagree with the Ramban. The RITVA and RAN write that it is from the words of the Rabanan in the Mishnah here that Rebbi Yosi infers that the Rabanan prohibit "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem," since they prohibit planting vegetables under the shade of an Asheirah tree in the summer. Even though the Gemara (48b) initially assumes that the shade of a tree is considered a single factor (and not "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem") in the vegetables' growth, nevertheless, according to the Gemara's conclusion, the shade of a tree indeed is considered "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" and the Rabanan prohibit planting under the shade only because they prohibit cases of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." This also appears to be the opinion of the RAMBAM, who rules that one is permitted to plant under the shade of an Asheirah even in the summer because of the ruling that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is Mutar.
(b) There are a number of approaches in the Rishonim with regard to why one may plant under the shade of an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah.
1. The RAMBAN and RITVA explain that one is permitted to have the vegetables benefit from the Asheirah through "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" since they do not benefit through an active use of Isurei Hana'ah; rather, the leaves of the Asheirah fall by themselves (providing fertilizer).
2. The RASHBA answers that the leaves which benefit the plant are those which fell off the previous season and have already become fertilizer, and not the new leaves that fall from the Asheirah now. Since the fertilizing leaves are no longer present in a tangible form, one is permitted to benefit from them in a manner of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" even l'Chatchilah.
(The Rashba explains that when Rebbi Yosi responds to the Rabanan that the leaves of an Asheirah "will fall on them," he does not mean that the leaves which fall on the vegetables after they are planted will provide fertilizer. Rather, he is referring to the leaves that fall on the place where the vegetables will be planted in the future, providing fertilizer for those vegetables.)
3. The ME'IRI writes that one indeed is prohibited from planting vegetables specifically beneath an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah. Rather, the Mishnah means that if an Asheirah overhangs a portion of a field, one is permitted (during the winter according to the Rabanan, and during all seasons according to Rebbi Yosi) to spread the seeds out in the normal manner, even though some of them might end up beneath the Asheirah. Such a situation is comparable to a b'Di'eved situation.
2) HOW TO SELL AN OBJECT THAT IS "ASUR B'HANA'AH"
QUESTION: The Tana Kama in the Mishnah teaches that bread that was baked in a fire fueled by wood from an Asheirah tree becomes Asur b'Hana'ah forever. Rebbi Eliezer argues and permits a person to derive benefit from the bread (such as by selling or feeding it to a Nochri), if the person first discards an amount of money equivalent to the value of the Isur that is in it (see following Insight).
In the Gemara, the Amora'im rule in accordance with the view of Rebbi Eliezer. Not only do the Amora'im permit deriving benefit from bread that was baked in such a manner (after discarding its value), they even permit deriving benefit from a barrel of Yayin Nesech after discarding its value.
RASHI points out that the argument in the Mishnah should not be confused with the argument between the Rabanan and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel later (74a.) The Mishnah there teaches that if Yayin Nesech becomes mixed in a pit of permitted wine, the Rabanan rule that one is prohibited from deriving benefit from the mixture, while Raban Shimon ben Gamliel rules that one is permitted to sell to a Nochri the entire mixture for the value of the permitted wine alone (that is, by deducting the value of the prohibited wine from the cost), because in this manner he is not deriving benefit from the prohibited wine. The Amora'im there rule in accordance with the view of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel. Rashi explains that in the Mishnah there, there are stronger grounds for leniency, because the person never derives any benefit from the prohibited wine in the first place since he receives in return for the wine only money for the value of the permitted wine. In the Mishnah here, however, Rebbi Eliezer permits taking the value of the prohibited item as well, such as by selling each barrel (or loaf) individually, as long as the person first discards the value of the prohibited wine.
According to Rashi's explanation, those who rule like Rebbi Eliezer in the Mishnah here certainly will permit selling a mixture of Yayin Nesech and permitted wine for only the value of the permitted wine, as Raban Shimon ben Gamliel rules (on 74a). Accordingly, once the Gemara here rules that the Halachah follows Rebbi Eliezer, why is it necessary for the Amora'im later (74a) to rule that the Halachah follows the view of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel? Even if the seller receives money for the prohibited wine, he should also be permitted to sell the mixture as long as he discards the value of the prohibited wine! Hence, he certainly should be permitted to sell the mixture for the value of the permitted wine alone, without receiving the value of the prohibited wine in the first place! (MAHARSHA)
ANSWERS: The Rishonim discuss this question at length, and they offer different approaches.
(a) The RAMBAN (in Milchamos) and the RAN agree with Rashi that there are stronger grounds for permitting the sale in the case of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel (on 74a) than for permitting the sale in the case of the Mishnah here. The reason why the Gemara there rules in accordance with Raban Shimon ben Gamliel is in order to apply Raban Shimon ben Gamliel's lenient ruling to cases in which the ruling of the Mishnah here would not apply.
The Amora'im there explain that in the case of Yayin Nesech mixed with permitted wine (as opposed to Stam Yayin mixed with permitted wine), a person is not allowed to sell the mixture to a Nochri by deducting the value of the Yayin Nesech; this type of sale is allowed only when the Yayin Nesech did not become physically mixed with the permitted wine (for example, when barrels of Yayin Nesech became mixed with barrels of permitted wine). In contrast, when Stam Yayin is mixed with permitted wine, even when the wines themselves are mixed the mixture may be sold to a Nochri by deducting the value of the Stam Yayin.
The Gemara here permits one to discard the value of the Yayin Nesech and sell the mixture only when a barrel of Yayin Nesech is mixed with a barrel of permitted wine. When the wines themselves are mixed, Rebbi Eliezer would not permit discarding the value of the prohibited wine. In the case later (74a), the Gemara rules that one is permitted to sell the mixture to a Nochri while deducting the value of the prohibited wine, even if the wines themselves were mixed when one of the wines was Stam Yayin.
The RIF, however, rules that one is permitted to sell even a mixture of Stam Yayin and permitted wine with Rebbi Eliezer's method (by discarding the value of the Stam Yayin). The Ramban (in Milchamos) suggests that the Rif might have inferred this from the wording of the Mishnah and Gemara.
Why, then, does the Gemara later (74a) find it necessary to rule like Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, if the Gemara here has already ruled like Rebbi Eliezer, and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel's sale does not apply in any other case? The answer is that the Gemara wants to limit the cases in which we may rely on Raban Shimon ben Gamliel's (or Rebbi Eliezer's) lenient ruling. When Yayin Nesech (and not Stam Yayin) is mixed with permitted wine, we do not permit the mixture through either the method of sale of Rebbi Eliezer or of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel.
(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR disagrees with Rashi. He explains that just as there are more logical reasons to permit the sale of Yayin Nesech in the manner suggested by Raban Shimon ben Gamliel than to permit the sale described by Rebbi Eliezer, there also are more logical reasons to permit the sale described by Rebbi Eliezer than the sale described by Raban Shimon ben Gamliel.
In the case of the Mishnah here, by discarding the value of the Yayin Nesech a person "redeems" the wine from its prohibition, as the wording of the Mishnah suggests. That is, we find that an object exchanged for Avodah Zarah acquires the prohibited status of Avodah Zarah for which it was exchanged. In the Mishnah here, Rebbi Eliezer teaches that if an Avodah Zarah became mixed with permitted objects, when one separates an amount of money equivalent to the Isur and discards it he thereby removes the Isur from the Avodah Zarah, permitting the mixture. Therefore, even though Rebbi Eliezer permits the mixture by discarding the value of Avodah Zarah, he might not permit selling the mixture and deducting the value of the Yayin Nesech, since the Isur of Yayin Nesech has not been redeemed.
The Ba'al ha'Me'or explains that this is the reason why the Mishnah permits using Isurei Hana'ah by discarding their value only in the case of the Isur Hana'ah of Avodah Zarah. Avodah Zarah is unique in that the object that is exchanged for it acquires the Isur of Avodah Zarah. Therefore, when it became mixed with other objects, its prohibition can be removed through Pidyon.
The Ramban and other Rishonim (Rabeinu Yonah, Ran, Rashbam cited by the Rosh) disagree with the Ba'al ha'Me'or. They explain that the Mishnah is not using the word "Pidyon" in its literal sense. They rule that the ruling of Rebbi Eliezer applies to all Isurei Hana'ah equally.
After the Rosh (3:9) proposes that Rebbi Eliezer's ruling applies only to Avodah Zarah for a reason similar to that of the Ba'al ha'Me'or, he adds that there is another reason to differentiate between Avodah Zarah and other Isurei Hana'ah even if the ruling of Rebbi Eliezer is not based on the principle of Pidyon. He explains that discarding the value will permit Isurei Hana'ah only when the object in question does not contain any tangible part of the original object that was Asur b'Hana'ah (such as bread baked in a furnace fueled by wood of Isurei Hana'ah, or clothing woven with a stick of Isurei Hana'ah). The Rosh adds that one also is permitted to discard the value of Isur in order to permit a mixture of Yayin Nesech, as is evident from the Gemara here. The reason for this is that even after discarding the value of the Yayin Nesech, the person will not derive physical benefit from the wine. Rather, he will derive monetary benefit by selling it to a Nochri (since wine is not normally used for washing or other physical benefits other than drinking).
The RITVA suggests a different reason to prefer the sale of Rebbi Eliezer over the sale of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel. The reason to be more lenient with the sale of Rebbi Eliezer and to prohibit the sale of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel (selling the entire mixture while deducting the value of the Isur Hana'ah) is that one might accidentally take the entire value without deducting the value of the Isur Hana'ah. In contrast, in the sale of Rebbi Eliezer, one discards the value of the Isur Hana'ah before transacting the sale.
3) HALACHAH: BREAD BAKED IN AN OVEN FUELED BY "AVODAH ZARAH"
OPINIONS: Rebbi Eliezer permits one to derive benefit from bread that was baked in an oven fueled by wood from an Asheirah tree as long as its value is discarded. Exactly what value must be discarded? Must one discard the value of the entire loaf of bread, or does it suffice to discard merely the value that the Avodah Zarah added to the bread?
Also, does Rebbi Eliezer's method permit benefiting from bread baked from Avodah Zarah even when it does not become mixed with permitted breads, or only when it has already become mixed with permitted breads?
(a) The RIF, RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 7:13), and RAMBAN require that the value of the entire bread be discarded. Also, they permit the bread in such a manner only when it has become mixed with permitted breads.
(b) The ROSH (3:9) agrees with the Rif that the bread may be permitted by Rebbi Eliezer's method only when it has already become mixed with permitted breads. However, he writes that it is not necessary to discard the entire value of the bread, since the Mishnah (Temurah 1:4) teaches that when the Se'or (sourdough) of Terumah is mixed with Chulin and together they cause a batch of dough to rise, the Se'or of Terumah is discounted if it is less than one part in one hundred, even though it is more than one part in one hundred when combined with the Se'or of Chulin. Similarly, in the case of the Mishnah here, it is necessary to discard only the value that the Isur added, and not the entire value of the bread. This is also the opinion of RASHI to the Rif.
(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR and RAN write that it is necessary to discard only the value of the wood that was used as fuel. They add that this method permits deriving benefit from the bread even before it becomes mixed with permitted breads.
The Ran explains that it is logical to permit the bread through this method, since the bread itself contains no tangible form of the Isur, but rather it was merely improved with the help of the Isur.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 142:4) rules like the Rambam and the Rif.
The SHACH there (#8) points out that although one may not derive benefit from bread baked with Avodah Zarah using the method of Rebbi Eliezer if the bread has not become mixed with permitted bread, one may sell the bread to a Nochri after deducting the value that the Avodah Zarah added to the bread. (That is, one may use the method of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel on 74a to permit the sale.)