Previous Folio / ‘Abodah Zarah Directory / Tractate List / Home
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
Raba once sent a present to Bar-Sheshak5 on a heathen feast-day, saying, 'I know that he does not worship idols'; but on paying him a visit, he found him sitting up to his neck in a bath of rosewater while naked harlots were standing before him. [Bar-Sheshak] said to him, 'Have you [Israelites] anything like this in the World to Come?' He replied, 'We have much finer than this.' He asked, 'Is there anything finer than this?' [Raba] answered, 'There is upon you the fear of the ruling power,6 but for us there will be no fear of the ruling power.' He said to him, 'What fear have I, at any rate, of the ruling power!' While they were sitting together, the king's courser arrived with the message, 'Arise, the king requires your presence.' As he was about to depart [Bar-Sheshak] said to [Raba], 'May the eye burst that wishes to see evil of you!' To this Raba responded, 'Amen,' and Bar-Sheshak's eye burst. R. Papi said: [Raba] should have answered him by quoting the verse, Kings' daughters are for thine honour; at thy right hand doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir.7 R. Nahman b. Isaac said: [Raba] should have answered him by quoting the verse, No eye hath seen what God, and nobody but Thee, will work for him that waiteth for Him.8
IF HE HIRED HIM TO ASSIST HIM IN ANOTHER KIND OF WORK. [Is his wage permitted] even if he did not ask him [to remove the cask of yen nesek] towards evening?9 Against such a conclusion I quote: If [a heathen] hires an [Israelite] workman10 and towards evening says to him, 'Remove a cask of yen nesek from this place to that,' his wage is permitted.11 The reason [why it is permitted] is because he asked him to do so towards evening; consequently [if he was asked to do so] throughout the day it would not [be permitted]! — Abaye said: Our Mishnah likewise refers to when he asked him to do so towards evening. Raba said: [Even if we assume that our Mishnah does not refer to the time towards evening] there is no contradiction, because [the second teaching deals with the circumstance] where he says to him, 'Remove for me a hundred casks for a hundred perutahs',12 and [the Mishnah] where he says to him, 'Remove for me some casks for a perutah each.'13 And thus it has been taught: If [a heathen] hires an [Israelite] workman, saying to him, 'Remove for me a hundred casks for a hundred perutahs' and a cask of yen nesek was found among them, his wage is prohibited; [but if he said, 'Remove for me] some casks for a perutah each,' and a cask of yen nesek was found among them, his wage is permitted.14
IF HE HIRED [AN ISRAELITE'S] ASS TO CARRY YEN NESEK, ITS HIRE IS PROHIBITED. What need is there for this [to be mentioned] since it is identical with the first clause?15 — It was necessary on account of the continuation, viz., BUT IF HE HIRED IT TO SIT UPON, EVEN THOUGH HE RESTED HIS JAR [OF YEN NESEK] UPON IT, ITS HIRE IS PERMITTED.16 Is this to say that it is not lawful17 to rest the jar [upon the ass]? Against this I quote: If a man hires an ass, the hirer may rest upon it his clothes, jar and the food which is required for that journey, but as regards anything beyond this the ass-driver may object; an ass-driver may rest upon it barley, straw and food required by him for that day, but as regards anything beyond this the hirer may object!18 — Abaye said: Granted that it is lawful to rest a jar upon the animal; nevertheless should [the hirer] not rest a jar upon it, do we say to him, 'Deduct the carriage of the jar'!19
How is this?20 Since [the hirer] is able to purchase [food on the journey], the ass-driver should also be allowed to object!21 And should [the driver] not be able to purchase [food on the journey], the hirer should also not be allowed to object!22 — R. Papa said: No; it is necessary [to suppose conditions] where one is able by trouble23 to make purchases from station to station; an ass-driver is accustomed to the trouble of making such purchases24 whereas the hirer is not accustomed to it.25
The father of R. Aha the son of R. Ika26
‘Abodah Zarah 65bused to pour out the wine for heathens [into their own vessels], and carry it across the ford for them, receiving from them the jars as the reward for doing so. People reported the matter to Abaye who told them: When he laboured1 he did so with what was permitted.2 But, [it was objected,] he had an interest in the preservation of something [that was unlawful],3 viz., that their skin-bottles should not split! — [No;] he had made a condition with them;4 or [as an alternative explanation] they brought barrels with them.5 But, [it was objected,] he carried them across the ford for them and consequently he laboured with what was prohibited! [No;] he instructed the ferryman from the outset [to convey the buyers across],6 or [as an alternative explanation] they carried with them certain identification marks.7
MISHNAH. IF YEN NESEK FELL UPON GRAPES, ONE MAY RINSE THEM AND THEY ARE PERMITTED, BUT IF THEY WERE SPLIT THEY ARE PROHIBITED. IF IT FELL UPON FIGS OR UPON DATES, SHOULD THERE BE IN THEM [SUFFICIENT WINE] TO IMPART A FLAVOUR, THEY ARE PROHIBITED. IT HAPPENED WITH BOETHUS B. ZUNIN THAT HE CONVEYED DRIED FIGS IN A SHIP AND A CASK OF YEN NESEK WAS BROKEN AND IT FELL UPON THEM; SO HE CONSULTED THE SAGES WHO DECLARED THEM PERMITTED. THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: WHATEVER DERIVES ADVANTAGE [FROM YEN NESEK BY ITS] IMPARTING A FLAVOUR IS PROHIBITED, BUT WHATEVER DOES NOT DERIVE ADVANTAGE [FROM YEN NESEK BY ITS] IMPARTING A FLAVOUR IS PERMITTED, AS, E.G., VINEGAR WHICH FELL UPON SPLIT BEANS.
GEMARA. But there is an incident8 [narrated] which contradicts [the first clause of the Mishnah]! — [The wording of the Mishnah] is defective and should read as follows: If [the wine] affects the flavour adversely it is permitted; and thus it happened with Boethus b. Zunin that he conveyed dried figs in a ship and a cask of yen nesek was broken and it fell upon them; so he consulted the Sages who declared them permitted.9
A cask of yen nesek once fell upon a heap of wheat, and Raba permitted it to be sold to heathens. Rabbah b. Liwai quoted against Raba: If mixed stuffs occur10 in a garment, he may not sell it to a heathen, nor make a pack-saddle of it for an ass, but he may use it as shrouds for a meth mizwah.11 Why may he not [sell it] to a heathen? Lest he dispose of it to an Israelite! So here also [there is the fear that the wheat] may be sold back by him to an Israelite? — Thereupon [Raba] permitted [the Israelite] to mill it, bake it and sell [the loaves] to a heathen not in the presence of an Israelite.12
We learnt: IF YEN NESEK FELL UPON GRAPES, ONE MAY RINSE THEM AND THEY ARE PERMITTED, BUT IF THEY WERE SPLIT THEY ARE PROHIBITED. If they are split they are [prohibited], but if not split they are not!13 — R. Papa said: It is different with wheat because on account of the slit [in the ears] they are considered to be split.
- To Next Folio -