AVODAH ZARAH 50 - Dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Reb Benzion ben Eliyahu and Chana Esther bas Nosson.

1)

THE MARKULIS (Yerushalmi Halachah 1 Daf 25a)

משנה רבי ישמעאל אומר שלש אבנים זו בצד זו בצד מרקוליס אסורות ושתים מותרות

(a)

(Mishnah) (R. Yishmael): If there are three stones side by side next to a Markulis pile, they are (assumed to be an addition to the Markulis and are) prohibited. If there are only two stones, they are permitted.

וחכמים אומרים את שהוא נראה עמו אסור ואת שאינו נראה עמו מותר:

(b)

(Chachamim): Whatever can be seen with it is prohibited; whatever cannot be seen with it is permitted.

גמרא א"ר אמי טעמא דרבי ישמעאל משום מרקוליס גדול אצל מרקוליס קטן

(c)

(Gemara) (R. Ami): R. Yishmael's reason is that it is normal to have a large Markulis stone next to a small one.

ורבנן אמרי משום רגלי מרקוליס

(d)

Rabbanan: It is not normal to do this, but rather, anything which can be seen together with an idol is considered part of it.

כמה הן רגלי מרקוליס

(e)

Question: How near must a stone be to the Markulis for us to know that a person threw it as an act of worship?

רבי בא בשם רבנן דתמן חמשים אמה.

(f)

Answer (R. Ba quoting the Rabbis of Bavel): Within 50 amos.

הילכת מרקוליס כך היא שתי אבנים זו על גבי זו והשלישית מלמעלה

(g)

The standard way to make a Markulis idol is - two stones, one on the other, with a third stone resting above them.

נתן את השנייה והתרו בו משום (אותו ואת בנו)[עבודה זרה] לוקה (משום ע"ז נסקל)

(h)

When he places the second stone, even before he placed the third, if they warned him against constructing an idol, he receives lashes (as the pasuk states in Shemos 20:4, "You shall not make an image...").

נתן את השלישית פלוגתא דר' יוחנן ורשב"ל דאיתפלגון השוחט אותו ואת בנו לשם עבודה זרה

(i)

When he places the third stone, thereby turning it into a Markulis - it falls within the dispute of R. Yochanan and R. Shimon ben Lakish - if a person slaughtered an animal and its offspring as an act of idolatry -

רבי יוחנן אמר אם התרו בו משום אותו ואת בנו לוקה משום ע"ז נסקל

1.

(R. Yochanan): If they warned him against the prohibition of slaughtering an animal and its offspring on the same day, he receives lashes for that; if they warned him against the prohibition of idolatry, he receives lashes for that.

רשב"ל אמר אפילו התרו בו משום אותו ואת בנו אינו לוקה מאחר שאילו (הותרו)[התרו] בו לשם ע"ז היה נסקל.

2.

(R. Shimon ben Lakish): Even if they warned him against slaughtering an animal and its offspring, he does not receives lashes, since had he been warned against idolatry, he would have incurred the punishment of stoning.

אי זו היא מרקוליס כל שהוא סג את הים ואת הדרכים.

(l)

How far does the stringency of Markulis go? Even if he made a bridge from its stones to cross a body of water or he made with them a fence for a public road, it is prohibited to gain benefit from them.

הילכת מרקוליס בזריקה השתחוה לה מהו

(m)

Question: The normal service of a Markulis is to throw a stone at it. What if a person instead bowed down to it?

אמר רבי יוסי כל עצמו אינו קרויה מרקוליס אלא בהשתחויה.

(n)

Answer (R. Yosi): Bowing down is also one of the primary ways to serve it.

ואבן משכית לא תתנו בארצכם להשתחות עליה יכול לא יתן שני אבנים זו על גב זו ויתן קופתו עליהם ת"ל להשתחות עליה עליה אי אתה משתחוה אבל נותן את קופתך עליה עליה אי אתה משתחוה משתחוה אתה על אבני בית המקדש.

(o)

The pasuk states (Vayikra 26:1), "And in your land you shall not place a pavement stone on which to bow down". Without the phrase 'on which to bow down', I might have thought that one may not even put two stones side by side and then put a box upon them...the pasuk says (that it is only prohibited if it is set up) 'on which to bow down'; also, one may not bow down on a pavement stone, but one may bow down on the stones of the Beis HaMikdash.

רב מפקד לבית רב אחא רבי אמי מפקד לאינשי ביתה כד תהוון נפקין לתעניתא לא תהוון רבעין כאורחכון.

(p)

Rav ordered the house of Rav Acha and R. Ami ordered the members of his household that when they go out to the gathering on a fast day and they fall on their faces, they should not do so in the way they fall in their homes (where there is sand, since the place of gathering was covered with a stone floor).

רבי יונה רבע על סיטריה רבי אחאי רבע על סיטריה

(q)

Both R. Yonah and R. Achai would fall on their sides.

אמר רבי שמואל אנא חמית רבי אבהו רבע כאורחיה

(s)

(R. Shmuel): I saw R. Abahu fall on his face (on a stone floor, with his arms and legs stretched out).

אמר רבי יוסי קשיתה קומי רבי אבהו והכתיב ואבן משכית לא תתנו בארצכם להשתחו' עליה

(t)

(R. Yosi): When he heard what R. Shmuel saw, he questioned R. Abahu, from the pasuk that states (ibid), "and in your land you shall not place a pavement stone on which to bow down"...?

תיפתר בקובע לו מקום.

1.

Answer: That prohibition refers to fixing a place to bow down (as was done in the Beis HaMikdash, but to bow down on an occasional basis would be permitted).

והכתיב ויהי דוד בא עד הראש אשר ישתחוה שם לאלהים

(u)

Question: But the pasuk states (Shmuel II 15:32), "And it was, David was coming to the top where he would bow down to Hash-m" (which indicates that he had a fixed place to bow down)...?

בלבד שתחוייה שאינה על הארץ

1.

Answer: He bowed there but did not actually fall on his face (with his arms and legs stretched out, which is the primary prohibition).

וכי יש שתחויי' שאינה על הארץ

(v)

Question: Is there bowing that does not include falling on one's face (with arms and legs stretched out)?

ויכרעו אפים ארצה על הרצפה וישתחוו.

1.

Answer: Yes, as the pasuk states (Divrei Hayamim II 7:3), "and they kneeled with their faces to the ground on the floor, and they prostrated themselves". (Since it did not say that they prostrated themselves on the floor, this indicates that there was no stretching out of the arms and legs.)

2)

THE TIME IT TAKES TO PROSTRATE ONESELF (Yerushalmi Halachah 1 Daf 25b)

רבי אבהו מוסיף (על)[עד] הודו לה' כי טוב רבי מנא מוסיף (על)[עד] כי לעולם חסדו על ישראל.

(a)

(The Mishnah in Shevuos teaches that if a person became tamei in the Beis HaMikdash and remained there for the amount of time it takes to prostrate oneself, he incurs Kares. The Gemara asks, what is this period of time, and answers that it is the time it takes to say the verse above in Divrei Hayamim.) R. Abahu adds that the period also includes the time it takes to say the following phrase of that pasuk, "...and [said]: 'Give thanks to Hash-m, for He is good'; R. Mana added also the end of the pasuk, "...for His lovingkindness is eternal."

רבי יוחנן אמר לרבי חייה בר בא בבלייא תרין מילין סלקין מן גביכון מפשוטיתא דתעניתא וערובתא דיומא שביעיא.

(b)

(R. Yochanan to R. Chiya bar Ba from Bavel): There are two customs that came from Bavel that are now followed in Eretz Yisrael -on a public fast day, they only prostate themselves on their sides; they hit the aravah (willow branch) on Hoshana Raba as a remembrance of the Beis HaMikdash.

רבנן דקיסרין אמרין אוף הדא מקזתא.

(c)

(Rabbanan of Kisarin): In blood-letting, they also follow the custom of Bavel (only to do it on a Sunday, a Wednesday or Friday).

ואיתא כיי דמר ר' אמי בבלייא בשם רבנן דתמן לא היתרו שתחוייה אלא לתענית ציבור ובלבד על הצד.

(d)

The teaching of R. Yochanan is like that which R. Ami of Bavel said in the name of the Rabbis there - they only permitted prostrating themselves on a public fast day and only on their sides.

רבי ינאי זעירא בשם אבהתיה כל מי שאינו כשר כיהושע שאם יפול על פניו יאמר לו הקב"ה קום לך אל יפול ובלבד יחיד [בציבור] על הציבור:

(e)

(R. Yanai the young citing his forefathers): Whoever is not upstanding like Yehoshua and is not sure that if he falls on his face, Hash-m will tell him (Yehoshua 7:10), "Arise and don't fall", he should not fall on his face. This is specifically when an individual prays for the community in front of them (as he will be embarrassed if his prayer is not answered); but an individual in private may fall on his face.

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