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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
But did Daniel decree against oil? Behold Bali declared that Abimi the Nabatean7 said in the name of Rab: The bread, wine and oil of heathens and their daughters are all included in the eighteen things!8 Should you argue that Daniel came and made the decree but it was not accepted, and then the disciples of Hillel and Shammai came and made the decree which was accepted, in that case what was the purpose of Rab's testimony?9 — But [Rab's contention is that] Daniel decreed against the use of the oil in a city,10 and [the disciples] came and decreed against its use even in a field. How, then, was it possible for R. Judah the Prince to permit [what was forbidden by] the ordinance of the disciples of Shammai and Hillel, seeing that we have learnt: A Court is unable to annul the decisions of another Court, unless it is superior to it in wisdom and numerical strength! Furthermore, Rabbah b. Bar Hanah has said in the name of R. Johanan: In all matters a Court can annul the decisions of another Court except the eighteen things [prohibited by the Schools of Hillel and Shammai], for even were Elijah and his Court to come [and declare them permitted] we must not listen to him! — R. Mesharsheya said: The reason [that these eighteen things form an exception] is because their prohibition has spread among the large majority of Israelites, but the prohibition concerning oil did not so spread;11 for R. Samuel b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: Our masters12 sat and made investigation concerning [the use of heathens'] oil [and found] that its prohibition had not spread among the large majority of Israelites; they accordingly relied upon the dictum of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel and R. Eliezer b. Zadok who declared: We make no decree upon the community unless the majority are able to abide by it.13 R. Adda b. Ahaba said:14 What Scriptural verse supports this rule?
‘Abodah Zarah 36bYe are cursed with the curse; for ye rob Me, even this whole nation1 — i.e., when the whole nation has [accepted an ordinance, then the curse which is the penalty of its infraction] does apply, otherwise it does not.
The above text stated: 'Behold Bali declared that Abimi the Nabatean said in the name of Rab: The bread, wine and oil of heathens and their daughters are all included in the eighteen things?' What means 'their daughters'? — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: [The Schools of Hillel and Shammai] decreed that their daughters should be considered as in the state of niddah2 from their cradle; and Geneba said in the name of Rab: With all the things against which they decreed the purpose was to safeguard against idolatry. For when R. Aha b. Adda came [from Palestine] he declared in the name of R. Isaac: They decreed against [heathens'] bread on account of their oil. But how is oil stricter than bread! — Rather [should the statement read that they made a decree] against their bread and oil on account of their wine; against their wine on account of their daughters;3 against their daughters on account of another matter,4 and against this other matter on account of still another matter.5 [But the prohibition against marrying] their daughters is a Biblical ordinance, for it is written, Neither shall thou make marriages with them!6 — The 'Biblical ordinance is restricted to the seven nations [of Canaan] and does not include other heathen peoples; and [the Schools of Hillel and Shammai] came and decreed against these also. But according to 'R. Simeon b. Yohai who declared that the words, For he will turn away thy son from following Me,7 include all women who would turn [their husbands aside from the worship of God], what is there to say? — Perhaps [the explanation is that] the Biblical ordinance is against intercourse through marriage, and they came and decreed even against immoral connection with them. But the decree against such connection had already been made by the Court of Shem,8 for it is written, And Judah said, Bring her forth and let her be burnt!9 — Perhaps, then, [the explanation is that] the Biblical ordinance refers to an Israelite woman in intercourse with a heathen since she would be drawn after him10 but not against an Israelite having intercourse with a heathen woman,11 and they came and decreed even against the latter. But [the prohibition against] an Israelite having intercourse with a heathen woman is a law of Moses from Sinai,12 for a Master has said: If [an Israelite] has intercourse with a heathen woman, zealots may attack him! — The Biblical ordinance refers to a public act even as the incident that had happened;13 but they came and decreed even against a private act. But the Court of the Hasmoneans14 had already decreed also against a private act; for when R. Dimi came [from Palestine] he declared: The Court of the Hasmoneans decreed that an Israelite who had intercourse with a heathen woman is liable on four counts, viz., she is regarded as niddah, a slave, a non-Jewess, and a married woman; and when Rabin came [from Palestine] he declared: On the following four counts, viz., she is regarded as niddah, a slave, a non-Jewess, and a harlot! — The decree of the Court of the Hasmoneans was against Intercourse but not against private association [with a heathen woman]; so they came and decreed even against this. But the Court of David had already decreed against private association, for Rab Judah said: At that time15 they made a decree against private association! — It may be replied [that the decree of the Court of David] there referred to private association with an
Israelite and not a heathen woman, and they came and decreed even against associating with a heathen woman. But [the prohibition against] associating with an Israelite woman is a Biblical ordinance; for R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozedek: Whence is there an indication in the Torah against such association? As it is said, If thy brother, the son of thy mother … entice thee16 — can, then, the son of the mother, and not the son of the father, entice! But the intention is, a son may privately associate with his mother, and nobody else may privately associate with any woman whom the Torah disallows him in marriage! — [The correct explanation is that] the Biblical ordinance against such association refers to an [Israelite] married woman; David came and extended the law to association with an unmarried woman; and the disciples of the Schools of Shammai and Hillel came and extended it still further to association with a heathen woman.
What is the meaning of the phrase used above: 'and against this other matter on account of still another matter'? — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: They decreed in connection with a heathen child that it should cause defilement by seminal emission17 so that an Israelite child should not become accustomed to commit pederasty with him. For R. Zera said: I experienced great trouble with R. Assi,18 and R. Assi with R. Johanan, and R. Johanan with R. Jannai, and R. Jannai with R. Nathan b. Amram, and R. Nathan b. Amram with Rabbi over this question: From what age does a heathen child cause defilement by seminal emission? — He replied to me: From a day old; but when I came to R. Hiyya, he told me: From the age of nine years and one day. When I then came and discussed the matter with Rabbi, he said to me: Abandon my reply and adopt that of R. Hiyya who declared: From what age does a heathen child cause defilement by seminal emission? From the age of nine years and one day,
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