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Avodah Zarah, 49
1) VEGETABLES PLANTED BENEATH AN "ASHEIRAH" TREE
QUESTIONS: The Rabanan and Rebbi Yosi argue in the Mishnah concerning
whether it is permitted to plant vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree in the
winter. The Rabanan permit it, because the shade of the Asheirah tree does
not benefit the vegetables planted beneath it during the winter. Rebbi Yosi
prohibits it, because the foliage of the Asheirah fall on the vegetables,
serving as fertilizer and helping them to grow. Since the vegetables grow
due to the effects of something permitted (the nutrients in the soil) and
the effects of something prohibited (the leaves of the Asheirah tree), it is
a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi maintains that the Halachah in
a case of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is that the object is Asur. This is the way the
Gemara originally understands the opinion of Rebbi Yosi.
However, the Gemara later proves that Rebbi Yosi himself permits an object
of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" in other situations. The Gemara concludes, therefore,
that it is the Rabanan who prohibit "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi, who heard
that the Rabanan permit planting vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree during
the winter, questions their view. He asks that the Rabanan, who maintain
that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is Asur, should prohibit planting beneath an Asheirah
even during the winter, since the falling leaves fertilize the plants,
causing a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem." Rebbi Yosi himself, though,
permits planting beneath an Asheirah, since he maintains that "Zeh v'Zeh
Gorem" is permitted.
There are a number of questions on this Gemara.
(a) Rebbi Yosi challenges the Rabanan saying that since they maintain that
"Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is Asur, planting beneath an Asheirah during the winter
should be prohibited. How does Rebbi Yosi know that the Rabanan maintain
that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is prohibited? Presumably, Rebbi Yosi infers this
from the fact that the Rabanan prohibit planting underneath the Asheirah
during the summer months (because of the shade that the tree provides). The
shade is only a single factor out of many in the growth of the vegetables,
and thus it cannot prohibit the planting unless "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is
However, this seems to contradict the Gemara's initial assumption, in which
the Gemara understood that Rebbi Yosi prohibits planting in the winter
because "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is Asur, while the Rabanan permit it because they
hold that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is *permitted*! This shows that the Gemara was
ready to accept that the Rabanan prohibit planting beneath an Asheirah in
the summer, even though "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted! Apparently, the
shade that an Asheirah provides during the summer is more significant in the
growth of the plants than the fertilizer that its leaves provide. The reason
for this is because the shade is not simply another growth factor that can
be combined with the soil and the fertilizer; rather, it is an entirely
different form of protection of the plants (as TOSFOS explains on 48b, DH
v'Rabanan). Since the Asheirah provides the plant's entire protection from
the sun (with no additional factors providing that protection), it is not
considered a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem."
According to the conclusion of the Gemara, how can Rebbi Yosi infer from the
fact that the Rabanan prohibit planting beneath the Asheirah in the summer
that they prohibit a case of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem?" Planting under the shade of
the Asheirah is a single "Gorem" and is not considered "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem!"
(b) Rebbi Yosi himself permits planting beneath the Asheirah during both
summer and winter (according to the Gemara's conclusion), because he
maintains that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted. This implies that in a
situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" it is permitted to benefit from a prohibited
object *l'Chatchilah*. However, this cannot be true, because if it is
permitted to benefit from an object of Isurei Hana'ah by combining it with
another object that is permitted, then all objects of Isurei Hana'ah should
have an inherent value, since it is possible to derive benefit from them in
a certain way. However, we find (in Kidushin 56b) that objects that are Asur
b'Hana'ah are considered to be totally valueless and must be destroyed.
Apparently, even benefiting from them in a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is
prohibited l'Chatchilah, as TOSFOS (48b, DH v'Ein) proves. Why, then, is it
permitted to plant vegetables beneath an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah by
relying on the law that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is permitted? (RAMBAN)
(a) The RAMBAN answers that Rebbi Yosi infers that the Rabanan prohibit "Zeh
v'Zeh Gorem" not from our Mishnah but from a different Mishnah. In the
Mishnah earlier (43b), cited at the beginning of the Sugya here, the Rabanan
argue with Rebbi Yosi and prohibit discarding Avodah Zarah by grinding it
into dust and throwing it into the wind, because the dust will then serve as
fertilizer and provide benefit. This is where the Rabanan imply that using a
prohibited object as fertilizer in a situation of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is
However, the other Rishonim disagree with the Ramban. The RITVA and RAN
write that it is from the words of the Rabanan in *our* Mishnah that Rebbi
Yosi infers that the Rabanan prohibit "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem," since they prohibit
planting vegetables under the shade of an Asheirah tree in the summer. Even
though the Gemara (48b) initially assumes that the shade of a tree is
considered a single factor (and not "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem") in the vegetables'
growth, nevertheless, according to the Gemara's conclusion, the shade of a
tree is indeed considered "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" and the Rabanan prohibit
planting under the shade only because they prohibit cases of "Zeh v'Zeh
Gorem." This also appears to be the opinion of the RAMBAM, who rules that it
is permitted to plant under the shade of an Asheirah even in the summer
because of the ruling that "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" is Mutar.
(b) There are a number of approaches in the Rishonim with regard to why one
may plant under the shade of an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah.
1. The RAMBAN and RITVA explain that it is permitted to have the vegetables
benefit from the Asheirah through "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" since they are not
benefiting through an active use of Isurei Hana'ah; rather, the leaves of
the Asheirah fall by themselves (providing fertilizer).
2. The RASHBA answers that the leaves which benefit the plant are those
which fell off the previous season and have already become fertilizer, and
not the new leaves that fall from the Asheirah now. Since the fertilizing
leaves are no longer present in a tangible form, it is permitted to benefit
from them in a manner of "Zeh v'Zeh Gorem" even l'Chatchilah.
(The Rashba explains that when Rebbi Yosi responds to the Rabanan that the
leaves of an Asheirah "will fall on them," he does not mean that the leaves
which fall on the vegetables after they are planted will provide fertilizer.
Rather, he is referring to the leaves that fall on the place where the
vegetables will, in the future, be planted, providing fertilizer for those
3. The ME'IRI writes that it is indeed prohibited to plant vegetables
specifically beneath an Asheirah tree l'Chatchilah. Rather, the Mishnah
means that if an Asheirah overhangs a portion of a field, it is permitted
(during the winter according to the Rabanan, and during all seasons
according to Rebbi Yosi) to spread the seeds out in the normal manner, even
though some of them might end up beneath the Asheirah. Such a situation is
comparable to a b'Di'eved situation.
2) HOW TO SELL AN OBJECT THAT IS "ASUR B'HANA'AH"
QUESTION: The Tana Kama in the Mishnah teaches that bread that was baked in
a fire fueled by wood from an Asheirah tree becomes Asur b'Hana'ah forever.
Rebbi Eliezer argues and permits a person to derive benefit from the bread
(such as by selling or feeding it to a Nochri), if the person first discards
an amount of money equivalent to the value of the bread.
3) HALACHAH: BREAD BAKED IN AN OVEN FUELED BY "AVODAH ZARAH"
In the Gemara, the Amora'im rule in accordance with the view of Rebbi
Eliezer. Not only do the Amora'im permit deriving benefit from bread that
was baked in such a manner (after discarding its value), they even permit
deriving benefit from a barrel of Yayin Nesech after discarding its value.
RASHI points out that the argument of our Mishnah should not be confused
with the argument between the Rabanan and Raban Shimon ben Gamliel later (on
74a.) The Mishnah there teaches that if Yayin Nesech becomes mixed in a pit
of permitted wine, the Rabanan rule that it is prohibited to derive benefit
from the mixture, while Raban Shimon ben Gamliel rules that it is permitted
to sell to a Nochri the entire mixture for the value of the permitted wine
alone (that is, by deducting the value of the prohibited wine from the
cost), because in this manner he is not deriving benefit from the prohibited
wine. The Amora'im there rule in accordance with the view of Raban Shimon
ben Gamliel. Rashi explains that in the Mishnah there, there are stronger
grounds for being lenient, because the person never derives any benefit from
the prohibited wine in the first place since he receives in return for the
wine only the money for the value of the permitted wine. In our Mishnah,
however, Rebbi Eliezer permits taking the value of the prohibited item as
well, such as by selling each barrel (or loaf) individually, as long as the
person first discards the value of the prohibited wine.
According to Rashi's explanation, those who rule like Rebbi Eliezer in our
Mishnah will certainly permit selling a mixture of Yayin Nesech and
permitted wine for only the value of the permitted wine, as Raban Shimon ben
Gamliel rules (on 74a). Accordingly, once our Gemara rules that the Halachah
follows Rebbi Eliezer, why is it necessary for the Amora'im later (74a) to
rule that the Halachah follows the view of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel? Even if
the seller receives money for the prohibited wine, he would also be
permitted to sell the mixture as long as he discards the value of the
prohibited wine! Hence, it would certainly be permitted to sell the mixture
for the value of the permitted wine alone, without receiving the value of
the prohibited wine in the first place! (MAHARSHA)
ANSWERS: The Rishonim discuss this question at length, and they offer four
(a) The RAMBAN (in Milchamos) and the RAN agree with Rashi that there are
stronger grounds for permitting the sale in the case of Raban Shimon ben
Gamliel (on 74a) than for permitting the sale in the case of our Mishnah.
The reason why the Gemara there rules in accordance with Raban Shimon ben
Gamliel is in order to apply Raban Shimon ben Gamliel's lenient ruling to
cases in which the ruling of our Mishnah would not apply.
The Amora'im there explain that with regard to Yayin Nesech mixed with
permitted wine (as opposed to Stam Yayin mixed with permitted wine), we do
not allow a person to sell the mixture to a Nochri by deducting the value of
the Yayin Nesech; we only permit this type of sale if the Yayin Nesech did
not become physically mixed with the permitted wine (for example, when
barrels of Yayin Nesech became mixed with barrels of permitted wine). In
contrast, when Stam Yayin is mixed with permitted wine, then even when the
wines themselves are mixed, we permit selling the mixture to a Nochri by
deducting the value of the Stam Yayin.
Our Gemara permits discarding the value of the Yayin Nesech and selling the
mixture only when a barrel of Yayin Nesech is mixed with a barrel of
permitted wine. When the wines themselves are mixed, Rebbi Eliezer would
*not* permit discarding the value of the prohibited wine. In the case later
(74a), the Gemara rules that it is permitted to sell the mixture to a Nochri
while deducting the value of the prohibited wine, even if the wines
themselves were mixed when one of the wines was Stam Yayin.
The RIF, however, rules that it *is* permitted to sell even a mixture of
Stam Yayin and permitted wine with Rebbi Eliezer's method (by discarding the
value of the Stam Yayin). The Ramban (in Milchamos) suggests that the Rif
might have inferred this from the wording of the Mishnah and Gemara.
Why, then, does the Gemara (74a) find it necessary to rule like Raban Shimon
ben Gamliel, if it has already ruled like Rebbi Eliezer in our Gemara, and
Raban Shimon ben Gamliel's sale does not apply in any other case? The answer
is that the Gemara wants to *limit* the cases in which we may rely on Raban
Shimon ben Gamliel's (or Rebbi Eliezer's) lenient ruling. When Yayin Nesech
(and not Stam Yayin) is mixed with permitted wine, we do not permit the
mixture through either the method of sale of Rebbi Eliezer or of Raban
Shimon ben Gamliel.
(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR disagrees with Rashi. He explains that just as there
are logical grounds to permit the sale of Yayin Nesech in the manner
suggested by Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, more than for permitting the sale
described by Rebbi Eliezer, there also are logical reasons to permit the
sale described by Rebbi Eliezer more than the sale described by Raban Shimon
In our Mishnah, by discarding the value of the Yayin Nesech, a person has
"redeemed" the wine from its prohibition, as the wording of the Mishnah
suggests. That is, we find that an object exchanged for Avodah Zarah
acquires the prohibited status of Avodah Zarah for which it was exchanged.
In our Mishnah, Rebbi Eliezer teaches if an Avodah Zarah became mixed with
permitted objects, then when one separates an amount of money equivalent to
the Isur and discards it he thereby removes the Isur from the Avodah Zarah,
permitting the mixture. Therefore, even though Rebbi Eliezer permits the
mixture by discarding the value of Avodah Zarah, he might not permit selling
the mixture and deducting the value of the Yayin Nesech, since the Isur of
Yayin Nesech has not been redeemed.
The Ba'al ha'Me'or explains that this is the reason why the Mishnah permits
using Isurei Hana'ah by discarding their value only with regard to the Isur
Hana'ah of Avodah Zarah. Avodah Zarah is unique in that the object that is
exchanged for it acquires the Isur of Avodah Zarah. Therefore, its
prohibition can be removed through Pidyon when it became mixed with other
The Ramban and other Rishonim (Rabeinu Yonah, Ran, Rashbam cited by the
Rosh) disagree with the Ba'al ha'Me'or. They explain that the word "Pidyon"
in the Mishnah is not being used in its literal sense. They rule that the
ruling of Rebbi Eliezer applies to all Isurei Hana'ah equally.
The Rosh (3:9), after proposing that Rebbi Eliezer's ruling applies only to
Avodah Zarah for a reason similar to that of the Ba'al ha'Me'or, adds that
there is another reason to make a distinction between Avodah Zarah and other
Isurei Hana'ah even if the ruling of Rebbi Eliezer is not based on the
principle of Pidyon. He explains that discarding the value will permit
Isurei Hana'ah only when the object in question does not contain any
tangible part of the original object that was Asur b'Hana'ah (such as bread
baked in a furnace fueled by wood of Isurei Hana'ah, or clothing woven with
a stick of Isurei Hana'ah). The Rosh adds that it is also permitted to
discard the value of Isur in order to permit a mixture of Yayin Nesech, as
is evident from our Gemara. The reason for this is because even after
discarding the value of the Yayin Nesech, the person will not derive
physical benefit from the wine. Rather, he will derive monetary benefit by
selling it to a Nochri (since wine is not normally used for washing or other
physical benefits other than drinking).
The RITVA suggests a different reason to prefer the sale of Rebbi Eliezer
over the sale of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel. The reason to be more lenient
with the sale of Rebbi Eliezer and to prohibit the sale of Raban Shimon ben
Gamliel (selling the entire mixture while deducting the value of the Isur
Hana'ah) is because one might accidentally take the entire value without
deducting the value of the Isur Hana'ah. In contrast, in the sale of Rebbi
Eliezer, one discards the value of the Isur Hana'ah before transacting the
OPINIONS: Rebbi Eliezer permits deriving benefit from bread that was baked
in an oven fueled by wood from an Asheirah tree as long as its value is
discarded. Exactly what value must be discarded? Must one discard the value
of the entire loaf of bread, or does it suffice to discard merely the value
that the Avodah Zarah added to the bread?
In addition, does Rebbi Eliezer's method permit benefiting from bread baked
from Avodah Zarah even when it does not become mixed with permitted breads,
or only when it has already become mixed with permitted breads?
(a) The RIF, RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 7:13), and RAMBAN require that the
value of the entire bread be discarded. In addition, they permit the bread
in such a manner only when it has become mixed with permitted breads.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 142:4) rules like the Rambam and the Rif.
(b) The ROSH (3:9) agrees with the Rif that the bread can be permitted by
Rebbi Eliezer's method only when it has already become mixed with permitted
breads. However, he writes that it is not necessary to discard the entire
value of the bread, since the Mishnah (Temurah 1:4) teaches that when the
Se'or (sourdough) of Terumah is mixed with Chulin and together they cause a
batch of dough to rise, the Se'or of Terumah is discounted if it is less
than one part in one hundred, even though it is more than one part in one
hundred when combined with the Se'or of Chulin. Similarly, in the case of
our Mishnah, it is necessary only to discard the value that the Isur added,
and not the entire value of the bread. This is also the opinion of RASHI to
(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR and RAN write that it is necessary to discard only
the value of the wood that was used as fuel. They add that this method
permits deriving benefit from the bread even before it becomes mixed with
The Ran explains that it is logical to permit the bread through this method,
since the bread itself contains no tangible form of the Isur, but rather it
has merely improved through the help of the Isur.
The SHACH there (#8) points out that although one may not derive benefit
from bread baked with Avodah Zarah using the method of Rebbi Eliezer if the
bread has not become mixed with permitted bread, nevertheless one *may* sell
the bread to a Nochri after deducting the value that the Avodah Zarah added
to the bread. (That is, one may use the method of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel
on 74a to permit the sale.)