1) DOES REBBI YOCHANAN AGREE WITH RAV?
OPINIONS: The Gemara earlier quotes Rav who says that when one breaks a stick in front of an Avodah Zarah which is normally served with a stick, he is Chayav. If he throws a stick in front of it, he is Patur (see Insights to 50b). In the Gemara here, Rebbi Yochanan says that when one slaughters an animal which has a Mum (a blemish, such as a missing limb, which qualifies as a Mum even for Bnei Noach) for Avodah Zarah, he is Patur. This is because the verse states, "Zove'ach l'Elohim Yecheram, Bilti la'Hashem Levado" -- "One who sacrifices to a god will be destroyed, only to Hash-m alone" (Shemos 22:19). This verse teaches that the Avodos done for Hash-m constitute Avodah Zarah when done for foreign gods. Any Avodah which is not done for Hash-m is not considered an Avodah for an Avodah Zarah. Do Rav and Rebbi Yochanan agree with each other, or do they argue?
(a) According to RASHI (50b, DH Shavar Makel), there is no reason why they cannot agree. The RAN here explains that according to Rashi, Rav rules that breaking a stick makes one Chayav only because the person did a service which is similar to the Avodah done in the Beis ha'Mikdash and used something which is normally used in the service of that particular Avodah Zarah. This ruling does not necessarily contradict the ruling of Rebbi Yochanan. One who slaughters an animal which would never be used, even by a Ben Noach, as a Korban is not called the same act as the Avodah of slaughtering done in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Rav would agree that one is Patur for such an act as long as this idol is not normally served by slaughtering animals.
(b) The RAMBAN argues that anything that closely resembles the Avodah done in the Beis ha'Mikdash is considered a full-fledged act Avodah Zarah when done for an idol. The Ramban understands that this is why Rav says that when one breaks a stick in front of Avodah Zarah, he is Chayav. Accordingly, the Ramban must learn that Rebbi Yochanan argues with Rav. After all, slaughtering an animal, even one with a blemish, is not any less of an act of service than breaking a stick. There is no greater blemish for a Korban than being a stick, which is not slaughtered at all, and Rav still says that a person who breaks a stick in front of any Avodah Zarah, even one that is not served with a stick, is Chayav. This clearly is not the view of Rebbi Yochanan.
According to the view that maintains that Rav and Rebbi Yochanan disagree with each other, whom does the Halachah follow?
1. The Ran writes that some learn that the Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Yochanan. This is the opinion of the Ramban, who maintains that they are arguing. There are two primary reasons for why the Ramban rules like Rebbi Yochanan. One reason is that there is a rule that whenever there is an argument between Rav and Rebbi Yochanan, the Halachah follows Rebbi Yochanan. Additionally, the Gemara earlier quotes an argument between Rebbi Yehudah and the Rabanan with regard to slaughtering a grasshopper (to an Avodah Zarah which is occasionally served with grasshoppers; see Rashi and Tosfos there). Rebbi Yehudah says that this is considered an Avodah, while the Rabanan say that it is not. The Gemara asks that Rav seems merely to be restating Rebbi Yehudah's opinion in this argument. The Gemara answers (see RASHI, DH Lo d'Kulei Alma) that Rav's ruling is actually like neither of these opinions. Rav therefore is arguing with the Tana'im, which is reason not to rule like him.
It indeed seems strange that according to Rashi, the Gemara continues with the train of thought of Rav, even though the Gemara concludes that both Rebbi Yehudah and the Rabanan do not agree with the opinion of Rav. It is possible that the Gemara is using the logic of "Rav Tana Hu u'Palig" -- "Rav is a Tana and argues."
2. The Ran quotes the RA'AVAD who also learns that Rav and Rebbi Yochanan are arguing, but who rules like Rav. He points out how the entire flow of the Gemara revolves around Rav's train of thought, and that Rav Nachman, Rabah bar Avuha, and Rav Yehudah all follow the view of Rav. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) "B'TOVAH" AND "SHE'LO B'TOVAH"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that if an Avodah Zarah entity owns a garden or a bathhouse, one may benefit from it only "she'Lo b'Tovah," but not "b'Tovah." If it is owned by a partnership, and only one of the partners is an Avodah Zarah entity, one may benefit from it whether "b'Tovah" or "she'Lo b'Tovah."
What is the meaning of "b'Tovah" and "she'Lo b'Tovah" (literally, "with good" and "not with good")? In the Gemara, Abaye explains that "b'Tovah" means "b'Tovas Komrim" -- "with the good of the priests." This still seems vague. What is this "good" to which the Mishnah refers?
(a) RASHI (DH Nehenin) says that one is allowed to benefit from the bathhouse or garden of an Avodah Zarah entity as long as he does not have to pay any money to the priests. This is called "she'Lo b'Tovah." If he must pay money to the priests ("b'Tovah"), then he may not benefit from the bathhouse or garden.
(b) However, Rashi earlier (44b, DH she'Lo b'Tovah) gives a different explanation. There, he explains that "she'Lo b'Tovah" means that he will not owe recognition to the priests for letting him use their bathhouse or garden. If he will owe them a favor ("b'Tovah"), then he may not benefit from their bathhouse or garden. The RAN (24a of the pages of the Rif) quotes the RA'AVAD who says according to this explanation, the reason behind the Mishnah here is that one should not come to be drawn after the Avodah Zarah entity that is giving him the benefit.
TOSFOS (44b, DH Nehenin) quotes RABEINU CHANANEL who sides with the explanation of Rashi to the Gemara here, while RABEINU TAM says that the correct explanation is like Rashi earlier (44b). Rabeinu Tam asks a number of questions on Rashi's second explanation. If "b'Tovah" means with money, then why does the Gemara not use the ordinary term, "b'Sechar" -- "with payment"? Why does it use a vague term like "b'Tovah"? Moreover, if the Mishnah is talking about payment, it is strange that the Gemara earlier (13a) does not quote the Mishnah as a question on Reish Lakish, who states there that one is permitted to give benefit to Avodah Zarah. Finally, if the Mishnah is teaching a prohibition against giving benefit to Avodah Zarah, then why does the Mishnah state that when there is a partnership of an Avodah Zarah entity and an ordinary person, one may go to the garden or bathhouse? Half of the money is going to be used to benefit Avodah Zarah!
The Ran asks another question on Rashi's explanation. The Gemara here quotes another version of the statement of Abaye. Abaye explains that the second case of the Mishnah, which states that one is permitted to benefit from a garden when only one of the two partners is an Avodah Zarah entity, is referring to "b'Tovah." This means that although the priests are going to benefit, one is allowed to pay to use the garden. Why, though, is this permitted? The Gemara earlier (13a) clearly states that one is forbidden to pay the tax for a fair of Avodah Zarah which will benefit the priests of Avodah Zarah?
The Ran explains that Rashi understands that the payment which is referred to by the word "b'Tovah" is not the payment of a regular transaction. Rather, it refers to payment which is worth much less than the actual value for such a service. The Gemara in Nedarim (31a) teaches that one who has pledged not to benefit from his friend is allowed to buy something from his friend when he pays less than the actual value of the product. Why, then, is this prohibited at all, even when there is no non-Avodah Zarah partner? The Jew who pays is not benefiting Avodah Zarah, since he is paying less than the value of the usage of the bathhouse or garden! The Ran explains that this prohibition is an Isur d'Rabanan which the Rabanan implemented to prevent a person from buying any service or product from an Avodah Zarah entity, even when one pays less than the market value, unless the Avodah Zarah entity has a partner. This explanation clearly answers all of the questions of Rabeinu Tam as well. (Y. MONTROSE)