AVODAH ZARAH 41 (10 Adar) - Dedicated by Shaul Yonah Markeluk of Buenos Aires L'iluy Nishmat his father, Itzjak ben Yaacov Markeluk Z'L (whose Yahrzeit is on 10 Adar), and for the Hatzlachah of his family and all of Klal Yisrael.
1) BROKEN PIECES OF AN IDOL
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that when one finds broken pieces of statues, he is permitted to derive benefit from them. In the Gemara, Shmuel comments that even if the statue was definitely used for Avodah Zarah, one is permitted to derive benefit from the broken fragments.
The Gemara later (41b) records an argument between Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish concerning whether one is permitted to benefit from an idol that broke apart by itself. Reish Lakish says that the pieces are permitted to be used, while Rebbi Yochanan prohibits them, since no one actively annulled the statue's status of Avodah Zarah. Whose opinion does Shmuel follow?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Amar Shmuel) quotes the RI who says that Shmuel must follow the view of Reish Lakish, and Reish Lakish must follow the view of Shmuel. This is apparent from the question of Rebbi Yochanan on the opinion of Reish Lakish. Rebbi Yochanan asks that the Mishnah states that pieces of "statues" are permitted, and it does not say that that pieces of "Avodas Kochavim" are permitted. This implies that when it is known for certain that the statue had been worshipped as an Avodah Zarah, the pieces are forbidden. This assertion is exactly the opposite of the statement of Shmuel, who says that broken pieces of an Avodah Zarah are permitted! It therefore seems logical to assume that Shmuel argues with Rebbi Yochanan in this regard. This is also the opinion of the TOSFOS SHANTZ.
What is the logic of Shmuel and Reish Lakish in a case in which the Avodah Zarah breaks by itself? In such a case, no Nochri actively nullified his Avodah Zarah, which is necessary in order to permit using an object that was served as an Avodah Zarah. Why is it not still forbidden like any other Avodah Zarah?
The SEDER YAKOV explains that perhaps when the Nochri sees his Avodah Zarah lying broken, he thinks to himself that if it cannot protect itself, then certainly it cannot protect me. After a few minutes of these thoughts, he will be Mevatel the Avodah Zarah. Even if the Nochri did not see his Avodah Zarah break, one may assume that since the Nochri will be Mevatel this statue from being an idol when he finds out that it fell apart, a broken idol no longer qualifies as an Avodah Zarah.
(b) The RIF, ROSH, and RITVA learn that Shmuel agrees with Rebbi Yochanan and maintains that when an idol broke by itself, the pieces are prohibited. Shmuel's ruling that the pieces are permitted applies only when someone actively broke the idol. The RAMBAN here explains that when one finds a broken piece of an Avodah Zarah, he may assume that it was broken in order to exchange it for a different Avodah Zarah, or that it was broken by an unsatisfied customer who was Mevatel the Avodah Zarah, and thus it is permitted. However, when one sees that the idol simply broke apart by itself (and no one was Mevatel it), even Shmuel agrees that it remains forbidden.
Shmuel and Rebbi Yochanan follow the basic concept of Bitul of Avodah Zarah. Rebbi Yochanan maintains that a Nochri must be Mevatel his Avodah Zarah, for otherwise it retains its status of being forbidden from benefit. Shmuel maintains that because the broken pieces of Avodah Zarah probably were from the Avodah Zarah of a Nochri that was Mevatel his Avodah Zarah, one is now permitted to benefit from it. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) CAN A DOUBT OVERRIDE A CERTAINTY?
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the principle of "Ein Safek Motzi mi'Yedei Vadai," a doubt does not override a certainty. The Gemara challenges this concept from a Beraisa which states that if a Chaver (a person who is trustworthy with regard to separating Terumos and Ma'aseros from his fruit) dies and it is not known whether he had separated Ma'aser from the fruit that he left, it may be assumed that he had separated Ma'aser. However, the obligation to separate Ma'aser is a definite obligation, while the assumption that Ma'aser was separated from this fruit is only a doubt, and yet the Beraisa states that the doubt overrides the definite assumption! Why does the doubt remove the status of Tevel from the fruit?
The Gemara, in its second answer, states that the case of the Chaver who died does not involve any definite factor ("Vadai"), because the Chaver might have reaped his fruit in a way which does not obligate him to separate Ma'aser from it (for example, he reaped it in order to feed it to his animals). Therefore, the doubt of whether or not Ma'aser was separated overrides the possibility that the fruit was obligated.
This logic seems difficult to understand. The fruit cannot be gathered in such a way that it becomes entirely exempt from Ma'aser. Rather, gathering in this manner permits the fruit to be consumed in a temporary, informal manner ("Achilas Arai"), such as feeding it to animals. In order to eat the fruit in a permanent, normal manner ("Achilas Keva"), Ma'aser still needs to be separated. Accordingly, there still is a definite factor of Tevel. Why, then, does the doubt (that the Chaver separated Ma'aser) override the certainty (that this fruit certainly was obligated in Ma'aser)?
(a) RASHI (DH d'Avad Lehu) explains that the prohibition against eating untithed produce in a permanent manner is only mid'Rabanan. The Rabanan understood that there is a Chazakah that the Chaver always separates Ma'aser from his fruit, and therefore they relied on this Chazakah (even though it is still a doubt) when it opposes a prohibition which is only mid'Rabanan.
(b) TOSFOS in Pesachim (9a, DH Kedei) explains in the name of the RI that the Gemara here refers only to the allowance to feed the produce to an animal, as the Beraisa states. The animal's consumption always has the Halachic status of a temporary meal, an "Achilas Arai." Therefore, the animal is allowed to eat the produce, since with regard to the Halachah that applies to the animal there is indeed a doubt about the obligation to separate Ma'aser from the produce (that is, since the Chaver might have brought in the produce in such a manner). This explanation is also expressed by Tosfos here (DH u'Machnisah). Apparently, this opinion does not agree that the Rabanan enabled a doubt to remove a certainty when the certainly is only mid'Rabanan in nature.
The TZELACH (Berachos 21a, DH Mai Taima) uses this explanation of Tosfos as a basis for his dispute with a ruling of the MAGEN AVRAHAM. The Magen Avraham (OC 184:8) discusses a case in which a person eats bread in the amount of a k'Zayis, which obligates him mid'Rabanan to recite Birkas ha'Mazon. What is the Halachah when the person knows that he ate the small amount of bread but does not remember whether or not he recited Birkas ha'Mazon? The Magen Avraham rules that he does not recite Birkas ha'Mazon now out of doubt, because his obligation to recite Birkas ha'Mazon is only mid'Rabanan (since he did not eat a large enough amount of bread). The Tzelach argues that we see from Tosfos that a doubt (such as whether or not one recited Birkas ha'Mazon) does not override a certainty (that the person ate bread and became obligated to recite Birkas ha'Mazon), even when that certainty is only a d'Rabanan obligation, and most authorities agree with Tosfos (see TUR OC 438, MISHNEH L'MELECH in Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 2:8, and others). (The Tzelach agrees that if the Isur d'Rabanan has no root in the Torah at all, such as a blessing before eating food, then a doubt indeed could override a certainty. Thus, had the case of the Magen Avraham involved a fruit, then even the Tzelach would have agreed that one would not need to recite a blessing out of doubt.) This is also the opinion of the BIGDEI YESHA (OC 438). Since the person knows that he certainly was obligated mid'Rabanan to recite Birkas ha'Mazon, his doubt about whether or not he did so should not override his definite obligation and exempt him from Birkas ha'Mazon; rather, he must recite Birkas ha'Mazon again out of doubt.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 184:15) rules in accordance with the view of the Magen Avraham. In the SHA'AR HA'TZIYUN (#17) he records the Tzelach's disagreement, yet he states that the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#430) supports the opinion of the Magen Avraham.
The SEDER YAKOV is puzzled by the words of the Sha'ar ha'Tziyun. If the Tzelach maintains that most Poskim dispute the ruling of the Magen Avraham, then why is it relevant that the Sefer ha'Chinuch agrees with the Magen Avraham? How can the Sefer ha'Chinuch's opinion decide the argument?
The Seder Yakov presents a different argument to question the position of the Tzelach. We find that the guidelines of the laws of Berachos differ from the guidelines of other areas of Halachah. For example, the Mishnah Berurah (OC 215:20) rules that in a case of a doubt, even if there are two possible reasons for why the person should say a Berachah, we invoke the rule of "Safek Berachos l'Hakel" (a doubt regarding a Berachah is resolved leniently, and one does not recite the Berachah out of doubt). Accordingly, the laws of Berachos cannot be compared with other Halachos, since we see that a doubt regarding Berachos is almost always resolved leniently. This challenges the basis of the Tzelach's question, whereby he compares the topic of a doubt regarding Berachos with the topic of the Gemara here, a doubt regarding the separation of Ma'aser. (Y. MONTROSE)