Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sanhedrin 61b - Serving Avoda Zara out of Love and Fear

The gemara quotes a machlokes between abaye and rava whether one who worships idolatry out of "love or fear" receives capital punishment. Rashi defines the situation to be a case where one is worshiping the idol because he loves someone or fears someone who is pushing him to bow to the idol, but in his heart doesn't accept the idol as a G-d. Tosafos seems to assume like rashi that the case is where the push to worship the avoda zara is the love or fear of a person. Therefore, Tosafos asks, how can rava exempt someone who worships out of fear (and kal v'chomer out of love), it should be no worse than one who is threatened with his life to worship avoda zara where we pasken יהרג ואל יעבור? Tosafos has 2 approaches: 1. Although one has to give up their life and not bow to an avoda zara (even if they will be thinking in their mind that they don't accept the avoda zara as a deity), if he does decide to bow to the avoda zara he is considered an o'nes and therefore exempt. This is consistent with the Rambam's opinion (yesodei ha'torah 5:4) that any time the din is יהרג ואל יעבורand he decides to violate the issur, he isn't killed since he is an o'nes. 2. Tosafos offers another approach which seems to assume that anytime the din is that one must be killed and not violate, he would be chayev misah if he were to violate. The gemara is speaking about a type of avoda zara that isn't typical and is only worshiped out of love or fear similar to the bowing to haman (which was out of fear for achashveirosh who commanded it), and only then would rava exempt him from mi'sah. According to this approach, any "real" avoda zara that is generally worshiped willfully, one would be killed when they worship out of fear or even threat to their life.
The Rambam (avoda zara 3:6) has an entirely different peshat in worshiping avoda zara out of "love and fear". The Rambam says that it is not an external love or fear, rather it is a love for the avoda zara itself or a fear that the avoda zara may cause you harm. The rambam writes that if the he actually accepts the avoda zara as a G-d, he is gets stoned, but if he he worships it just out of the love of IT or the fear of IT, he is exempt. The kesef mishna explains that the Rambam doesn't agree with rashi's p'shat because then the "fear" would mean fear for life, which is an o'nes and he wouldn't be chayev misah even according to abaye, as the rambam holds in hilchos yesodei ha'torah. Based on this, both the first peshat of Tosafos and the Rambam agree that one who worships out of o'nes doesn't receive capital punishment, just that the rambam considers this to be even according to abaye, whereas Tosafos would limit it to rava.
The difficulty with the Rambam's approach to "love and fear" is pointed out by the kesef mishna in the name of the Rivash, that all avoda zara is worshiped out of love of it or fear of it causing harm. That is classic avoda zara for which one is certainly chayev misah! The Rivash therefore explains the gemara similar to rashi. Regarding the question of the Rambam that even abaye should agree that o'nes is not responsible, the Rivash says that "yir'ah" doesn't mean a threat of death which would reach the level of o'nes, rather just fear of harm.

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