On 5b the daf asks about how Nochrim prepare korbonos for their holidays. The gemara brings a proof from Torah that a Nochri may not bring a korban with a missing limb. However ... by doing Avodah Zara the Nochrim are not following Torah. How can we learn their practices from Torah? Perhaps they make up their own rules of korbanos for their Avoday Zara. If so ... shouldn't we just observe what they do and take this into account instead of assuming they follow Torah rules?
Andy Goldfinger, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
1. Your question is answered by Rashi DH d'Asur, who writes that the Nochrim who worship Avodah Zarah do so in a way similar to how their ancestors used to offer sacrifices to Hash-m, before their descendants abandoned belief in Hash-m and started worshipping alien gods. Accordingly, we possess a way of knowing what kind of blemishes are acceptable to the Nochrim for their Korbanos even without observing what they do, because we can assume that they do not make up their own rules of Korbonos for their Avodah Zarah, but rather they follow the same rules that their ancestors followed when they used to serve the true G-d.
2. The Ritva here adds that a similar explanation is given by the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah) on the verse, "Then it became profane to call in the name of Hash-m" (Bereshis 4:26), which Rashi there explains to mean that in the time of Enosh, the grandson of Adam ha'Rishon, people started worshipping Avodah Zarah. The author of the footnotes to the Ritva (Mosad HaRav Kook edition) comments that he did not find this Midrash, but nevertheless we learn from the Ritva that in the days of Enosh people started leaving the righteous ways of Adam and his son Shes, who offered sacrifices to Hash-m, but when they did so they continued offering the sacrifices to Avodah Zarah in a similar way that Adam and Shes had been offering them to Shamayim. Consequently, only a missing limb was considered a blemish, not a film in the eye, which is a Pesul only for Korbanos of Yisrael.
3. The author of the footnotes to the Ritva cites the Gemara later (8a) which states that Adam ha'Rishon fixed the festivals for the worship of Heaven, while the idol-worshippers fixed the same days for Avodah Zarah festivals. We see again that the idol-worshippers obtained their ideas from the true worship of Hash-m and then used them for their own purposes.
4. I am reminded of something I saw many years ago in one of the letters of the Rambam. (I could not find it at the moment, but I believe it is either in the "Yemen letter" or in the "Letter of Shmad".) The Rambam explains how all the different nations attempted to destroy the Jewish people and the Torah: the Egyptians tried to enslave Bnei Yisrael and in this way crush the Torah; later, Haman tried to kill the Jews physically and Hash-m saved us; then the Greeks tried to disprove the Torah philosophically. When they saw that this did not work, other religions tried different tactics: instead of trying to disprove the Torah, they attempted to replace it with a new religion. The Rambam writes that these religions merely bear the same similarity that a statue bears to a live person. The genuine way of Avodas Hash-m is the Torah and all the foreign cultures are merely imitations of the true belief in Hash-m and the Torah.
Kesivah v'Chasimah Tovah,