1) SERVING AVODAH ZARAH UNINTENTIONALLY
QUESTIONS: If a person does an act of "Po'er" for the idol Ba'al Pe'or, he is considered guilty of serving Avodah Zarah even though he had intention to disgrace it. Similarly, if a person throws a rock at the idol Markulis with intention to disgrace it, he is considered guilty of serving Avodah Zarah. The Gemara records an incident involving Rav Menasheh, who threw a stone at Markulis in order to disgrace it. He was told that his act was prohibited and was considered an act of serving Avodah Zarah.
The Gemara implies that the lack of intention of the person who does the act of serving Avodah Zarah does not detract from the sin of Avodah Zarah. The act is still considered an act of serving Avodah Zarah. How is this to be reconciled with the Gemara earlier (end of 61b) that says that as long as one does not intend to accept the Avodah Zarah as his deity, he has not served Avodah Zarah? (See TOSFOS DH Af Al Gav.)
TOSFOS (61b, DH Rava) asks further that the requirement that a person give up his life rather than bow down to an Avodah Zarah implies that even bowing down under coercion is considered a transgression of the sin of Avodah Zarah. If he is forced to serve Avodah Zarah, he obviously does not accept the Avodah Zarah in his heart. Why, though, should his act be considered one of serving Avodah Zarah?
Moreover, Rav Menasheh certainly did not intend to serve Avodah Zarah, and yet he was told that his act was one of serving Avodah Zarah. His act should have been classified as one of Shogeg, an unintentional transgression of Avodah Zarah. Why does the Gemara (61b and 62b) assert that, according to Rava who says that serving Avodah Zarah out of love for another person or fear for another person ("me'Ahavah umi'Yir'ah") is a transgression of the sin of Avodah Zarah for which one is Chayav Misah? Why is such a case not considered Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg, like the case of the Gemara here?
TOSFOS (62b, DH He'elem) asks this question on the Gemara (on 61b). Tosfos answers that the Gemara there could have given this as a case of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg for which one is not Chayav Misah, but it gave a different case in which Rava would agree that one is obligated to bring a Korban Chatas for serving Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg -- the case of "Omer Mutar." Since the Gemara finds a case of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg ("Omer Mutar"), it does not bother to mention any other cases of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg. This answer, however, does not suffice to resolve the question from the other Gemara (on 62b), because the Gemara there seems to conclude that according to Rava there is no case of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg. The Gemara there rejects the answer of "Omer Mutar" and does not provide any other possible case of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg in which Rava would rule that one is obligated to bring a Chatas. (TORAS CHAIM)
(a) TOSFOS (61b, DH Rava) first suggests that if a person is forced to serve Avodah Zarah at the threat of his life, his act of bowing down to Avodah Zarah indeed is not considered a form of idolatry, since he does not intend to accept the idol as his deity. Nevertheless, one is required to give up his life rather than serve the idol because of the Chilul Hash-m that is caused by bowing down to an object of worship. However, if a person transgresses and bows down to Avodah Zarah instead of being killed, he is not Chayav Misah because he has not done an Aveirah of Avodah Zarah.
Tosfos (64a, DH Af Al Gav) explains that the Gemara here considers the act of throwing a stone to Markulis a transgression of serving Avodah Zarah only when the thrower intends to serve Avodah Zarah through that act. Why, then, was Rav Menasheh told that he had sinned by throwing the stone? Rav Menasheh certainly did not intend to serve the Avodah Zarah! The answer is that there, the Chachamim did not tell Rav Menasheh that he was Chayav Misah, but rather that he was obligated to bring a Chatas since he did an act b'Shogeg for which he would have been Chayav Misah had he done it b'Mezid. (MAHARSHA, MAHARAM)
Why, though, should he be obligated to bring a Chatas if the Gemara (61b) says that when a person does not accept the Avodah Zarah as his deity he is not considered to have served Avodah Zarah at all and he is not obligated to bring a Chatas? The answer is that in the case of the Gemara there (61b), the person was not aware that the object that he served was an object of Avodah Zarah. In such a case, since he did not accept an Avodah Zarah and he did not realize that the object was an Avodah Zarah, his act is meaningless. However, if he knows that the object is an Avodah Zarah but he does not think that this is a method of serving Avodah Zarah, his act is considered Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg and he is obligated to bring a Chatas. (See Tosfos to 62b, end of DH He'elem.)
Following this approach, Tosfos later (65a) asks a question on the Gemara there. The Gemara there says that the sin of Megadef is different from the sin of serving Avodah Zarah, since Megadef is only "b'Lev" -- it depends on what the person intends in his heart. Tosfos asks that Avodah Zarah is also only "b'Lev"; if a person does not intend to accept the Avodah Zarah, then he is not liable for bowing down to it!
Tosfos answers that the Gemara must mean that the sin of Megadef is more closely related to the thought behind the speech than to the speech that the thought produces, as the verse implies. In contrast, Avodah Zarah involves a combination of the two; the speech, bowing, or other outward action is just as much a part of the sin as the intention.
According to Tosfos, what Rav Menasheh did was an act of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg. Why, then, is this not suggested (in the Gemara on 62b) as a case of Avodah Zarah b'Shogeg for which one is obligated to bring a Chatas? The answer is that this case would not answer the Gemara's question there, because the Gemara there is looking for a case in which one who serves Avodah Zarah is Chayav and one who desecrates Shabbos in that manner is Patur. If a person serves Avodah Zarah not knowing that this is a way of serving Avodah Zarah, it is comparable to a person who does an act of Melachah on Shabbos not knowing that it is a Melachah. In such a case, he would also be Chayav to bring a Chatas on Shabbos. This is similar to the way the Gemara there rejects the possibility that the Beraisa (on 62b) is discussing a case of "Omer Mutar"; in a case of "Omer Mutar," the person would be Chayav to bring a Chatas on Shabbos just as he would be Chayav to bring a Chatas in a case of "Omer Mutar" of Avodah Zarah.
(b) Tosfos cites others who say that serving Avodah Zarah does not depend on the intention of the person doing the act. If the person acted unintentionally, b'Shogeg, and did not realize that this was a form of Avodah Zarah, or he was forced to serve Avodah Zarah, his lack of intention does not detract from the act of Avodah Zarah. Simply doing an act of bowing down to the Avodah Zarah is considered a transgression of serving Avodah Zarah.
Why, then, does Rava say that if a person serves Avodah Zarah out of love or fear of a person (i.e. only outwardly) he is not Chayav Misah? The answer is that Rava is discussing the type of Avodah Zarah that is always served only out of love or fear of a person. No one has actually accepted it as a deity. Therefore, when he serves it, he is not serving an idol, and that is why he is exempt. If something is an idol, then even serving it without intending to accept it as a deity is a form of Avodah Zarah for which one is Chayav Misah. Tosfos later (65a, DH Ho'il) points out that this also seems to be the opinion of Rashi there.
What, though, is the meaning of the Gemara that says that if a person does not realize that he is bowing down to an Avodah Zarah, but he thinks that it is a synagogue, or a statue that is not normally served as an idol, he is not Chayav Misah? The answer is, again, that when he thinks that this is a different object, even these opinions agree that he is not Chayav Misah for serving Avodah Zarah.
This answers the first question as well. There is no case in which the person will be aware that the object is an Avodah Zarah and yet by bowing down to it he will not be Chayav Misah. On the other hand, if the person is not aware that what he is bowing down to is an Avodah Zarah, he will be exempt even from having to bring a Korban Chatas.