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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
It has been stated: Whence could it be deduced that circumcision performed by a heathen is invalid? — Daru b. Papa said in the name of Rab: [From the words,] And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant;14 while R. Johanan [deduces it from the words] Himmol yimmol.15 What practical difference is there between these two? — The case of a circumcised Arab or a circumcised Gibeonite:16 According to the one who relies on 'He who is circumcised shall circumcise' [the qualification] is there, but according to the one who relies on Thou shalt keep my covenant, it is not there.17 But is such a one qualified according to him who relies on He who is circumcised shall circumcise! Have we not learnt: [He who says], I vow not to enjoy anything belonging to uncircumcised persons, may enjoy anything of uncircumcised Israelites, but must not enjoy anything of circumcised heathen.18 Which proves that heathens who undergo circumcision are still designated as uncircumcised'!19 We must therefore say that they differ in the case of an Israelite whose brothers died in consequence of circumcision, so that he was not circumcised: according to the one who relies on Thou shalt keep my covenant the qualification is there:20 while according to the one who relies on He who is circumcised shall circumcise, it is not there. And is such a one not qualified according to the one who relies on He who is circumcised shall circumcise? Have we not learnt: [He who says,] I vow not to enjoy anything belonging to circumcised persons, must not enjoy of uncircumcised Israelites, but may enjoy of circumcised heathens:21 which proves that Israelites who are not circumcised are designated as 'circumcised'! — We must therefore say that the case wherein they differ is that of a woman. According to the one who relies on Thou shalt keep my covenant, the qualification is not there, since a woman is not subject to the observance, while according to the one who relies on He who is circumcised shall circumcise, the qualification is there, for a woman should be classed among the 'circumcised'. But does anyone hold that a woman is not [qualified to perform circumcision]. Does not scripture say, Then Zipporah took a flint?22 — Read into it, she caused to be taken.23 But it also says, And she cut off! — Read into it, and she caused it to be cut off, by asking another person, a man, to do it. Or you may say it means that she only began and Moses came and completed it.
MISHNAH. WE MAY ALLOW THEM TO HEAL US WHEN THE HEALING RELATES TO MONEY, BUT NOT PERSONAL HEALING;24 NOR SHOULD WE HAVE OUR HAIR CUT BY THEM IN ANY PLACE.25 THIS IS THE OPINION OF R. MEIR; BUT THE SAGES SAID, IN A PUBLIC PLACE IT IS PERMITTED, BUT NOT WHEN THE TWO PERSONS ARE ALONE.
GEMARA. What is HEALING RELATING TO MONEY and what is PERSONAL HEALING? Shall we say that HEALING RELATING TO MONEY means for payment and PERSONAL HEALING free? Then the Mishnah should have said: We may allow them to heal us for payment but not free! HEALING RELATING TO MONEY must therefore mean where no danger is involved26 and PERSONAL HEALING where there is danger. But has not Rab Judah said: Even a scar over the puncture caused by bleeding should not be healed by them? — HEALING RELATING TO MONEY therefore relates to one's cattle, and PERSONAL HEALING to one's own body, about which Rab Judah said that even a scar over the puncture caused by bleeding should not be healed by them. Said R. Hisda in the name of Mar 'Ukba: But if [a heathen physician on being consulted] says to one that such and such medicine is good for him and such and such medicine is bad for him, it is permitted [to follow his advice]
‘Abodah Zarah 27bfor he will think that he is merely asking him, and just as he is asking him so he will also ask others, so that that man [by giving wrong advice] would have his reputation spoilt. Said Raba in the name of R. Johanan [some say R. Hisda in the name of R. Johanan]: In the case where it is doubtful whether [the patient] will live or die, we must not allow them to heal; but if he will certainly die, we may allow them to heal. 'Die [etc.]'! Surely there is still the life of the hour [to be considered]?1 The life of the hour is not to be considered. What authority have you for saying that the life of the hour is not to be considered? — The scriptural words, If we say: we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there.2 Now there is the life of the hour [which they might forfeit]! This implies that the life of the hour is not to be considered. An objection was raised: 'No man should have any dealings3 with Minim, nor is it allowed to be healed by them even
[in risking] an hour's life. It once happened to Ben Dama the son of R. Ishmael's sister that he was bitten by a serpent and Jacob, a native of Kefar Sekaniah,4 came to heal him but R. Ishmael did not let him; whereupon Ben Dama said, 'My brother R. Ishmael, let him, so that I may be healed by him: I will even cite a verse from the Torah that he is to be permitted'; but he did not manage to complete his saying, when his soul departed and he died.5 Whereupon R. Ishmael exclaimed, Happy art thou Ben Dama for thou wert pure in body and thy soul likewise left thee in purity; nor hast thou transgressed the words of thy colleagues, who said, He who breaketh through a fence, a serpent shall bite him'?6 — It is different with the teaching of Minim, for it draws, and one [having dealings with them] may be drawn after them.
The Master said: 'Nor hast thou transgressed the words of thy colleagues who have said, He who breaketh through a fence, a serpent shall bite him'? But a serpent did indeed sting him! — The bite of the serpent [which is inflicted upon those transgressing the words] of the Rabbis is such as can never be cured.7 Now, what is it that he might have said?8 — 'He shall live by them,9 but not die by them.' And R. Ishmael? — This is only meant when in private, but not in public; for it has been taught: R. Ishmael used to say: Whence can we deduce that if they say to one, 'Worship the idol and thou wilt not be killed,' that he may worship it so as not to be killed? because Scripture says, He shall live by them, but not die by them; you might take this to mean even in public, therefore Scripture says, And ye shall not profane my holy name.10
Said Rabba b. Bar Hanah in the name of R. Johanan: Any sore for which the Sabbath may be profaned should not be healed by a heathen.11 Others report that Rabba b. Bar Hanah said: Any
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