For the week ending 25 September 2010 / 16 Tishri 5771

Avodah Zarah 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • How to destroy an idol as commanded by the Torah
  • King David and his crown
  • The dialogue between Sage and idolater in the bathhouse
  • Mountains and trees worshipped as idols
  • Uprooting idols in Eretz Yisrael
  • Bowing in worship to a brick or an egg
  • Using stones of a mountain worshipped as an idol for the building of the Altar
  • Using a worshipped object for sacrificial purpose after it has undergone a change
  • Varieties of buildings, stones and trees that have been affected by idol worship
  • What is the asheira mentioned in the Torah
  • Sitting in the shade of an asheira, planting below it or using its wood
  • The idol called Markulies and the saintliness of a Sage

Son of Saints

  • Avoda Zara 50a

The worship of the idol Markulies consisted of heaping stones upon it. Once such stones were removed by other idol worshippers from their place and used for paving streets. There were Sages who avoided walking upon these streets because they held that something offered as worship to an idol remains forever forbidden for Jewish use. The "Son of Saints" is mentioned as one who did use those streets because he held that since some idol worshippers had shown such disrespect for the sanctity of those stones, they were no longer forbidden for use by a Jew.

Who was this "Son of Saints" and why was he thus called?

Rabbi Menachem ben Semai earned this title not because of his ancestry but because of his own saintliness expressed in his extreme aversion to idols, which led him to avoid even looking upon the graven image on a coin.

It was said about him that when he passed away the faces on all the statues and coins in his area were flattened into formlessness. (Mo’ed Katan 25b)

What the Sages Say

"The crown which was placed on the head of David's descendant Yoash at his coronation is referred to as 'testimony' (Divrei Hayamim II 22:11) because it served as testimony to who is fit to be king for it fit only one who was truly fit."

  • Rabbi Yehuda in the name of the Sage Rav - Avoda Zara 44a

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