THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
Avodah Zarah, 43
AVODAH ZARAH 43 (23 Nisan) - dedicated by Mr. Avy Reichman of Queens, NY,
l'Iluy Nishmas his father, Dovid ben Avraham, on the day of his Yahrzeit.
1) THE PROHIBITION AGAINST MAKING IMAGES OF THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which states that one may not
replicate the Heichal, Ulam, Shulchan, and Menorah of the Beis ha'Mikdash
with the exact measurements of the original structures. What is the source
for this prohibition?
(a) TOSFOS (43b, DH Lo Asrah) implies that the source is the verse, "Lo
Sa'asun Iti" -- "You shall not make [images of that which is] with me"
(Shemos 20:20), which is the source for the prohibition against making
images of all of the other things mentioned in our Gemara. Tosfos explains
that just as this verse prohibitions making images of the heavenly bodies
that were created to serve Hashem, so, too, it prohibits making images of
the things in this world (i.e. the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash) which were
made to serve Hashem. This is also the opinion of the ME'IRI, MAHARIK
(Shoresh 75), the SHE'ILTOS (#57), and most others.
The Gemara itself supports this view. The Gemara (43a) asks a question on
Raban Gamliel, who kept pictures of the moon which he used when questioning
the witnesses who came to testify about the new moon. The Gemara asks how
Raban Gamliel was allowed to keep such pictures, as the verse states that
one may not make "images of that which is with" Hashem. Abaye answers that
the Torah prohibits making images only of things for which one could
replicate the exact measurements, such as the Heichal, Ulam, Shulchan, and
Menorah of the Beis ha'Mikdash. Since one cannot duplicate the exact
measurements of the moon, the Torah does not prohibit making images of it.
This clearly implies that the verse "Lo Sa'asun Iti" is the source for the
prohibition against making images of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 7:10) quotes these Halachos when he
discusses the Mitzvah to feel, and act, in awe of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The
Rambam omits these Halachos in his work on Hilchos Avodah Zarah. The MINCHAS
CHINUCH (Mitzvah #39) deduces from here that the Rambam understands that
this prohibition is unlike the other prohibition our Gemara mentions against
making images of the heavenly bodies, which is derived from the verse of "Lo
Sa'asun Iti." The prohibition against making replicas of the things in the
Beis ha'Mikdash is part of the Mitzvah to fear the Mikdash. If people were
to design their houses as replicas of the Heichal and Ulam, or if they were
to build replicas of the Shulchan and Menorah for their own enjoyment, then
the awe and reverence for the Beis ha'Mikdash would be diminished.
What is the Rambam's source for learning that the prohibition against making
replicas of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash is different than the other
prohibitions mentioned in our Gemara?
The Minchas Chinuch answers that the Rambam noted an interesting pattern in
the other prohibitions mentioned in our Gemara. The other Beraisos all quote
the verse of "Lo Sa'asun Iti" or a similar verse when they mention each
prohibition. In contrast, the Beraisa which mentions the prohibition of
making replicas of the things in the Beis ha'Mikdash is the only Beraisa
which does not quote any verse. The Rambam understood this to indicate that
there is a logical difference between this prohibition and all the others.
All of the other cases are prohibited because they involve a possibility
that someone might worship the image that is made. An image of the Beis
ha'Mikdash or of any of its contents is not something which will be used for
Avodah Zarah. Rather, the reason why it is prohibited is because of the
Mitzvah that we must always have awe and reverence for the Mikdash.
How, though, does the Rambam answer the strong proof that we mentioned from
Abaye's answer? The Minchas Chinuch explains that the Rambam learns that
this answer of Abaye was his own original thought, which he later retracted.
Tosfos does not agree with this understanding, because Tosfos explicitly
states that as we see the Gemara never says "*Ela* Amar Abaye" ("*rather*
Abaye says"); Abaye never retracted any of his comments. He simply added
more prohibitions which he derived from the verse. (Y. Montrose)
2) THE FACES OF HEAVENLY BEINGS
QUESTIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which Abaye interprets to be saying
that it is prohibited to make images that resemble the faces on the Merkavah
(the heavenly Chariot which consists of the images of a man's face, lion,
ox, and eagle). The Beraisa derives this from the verse, "Lo Sa'asun Iti" --
"You shall not make [images of that which is] with me" (Shemos 20:20). The
verse is to be read, "Lo Sa'asun *Osi*," meaning, "You shall not make [an
image of] Me." As Hashem has no image, the verse must be referring to the
heavenly entities that serve Him (see RABEINU CHANANEL to Rosh Hashanah
24b). The Gemara later extends this prohibition to making images of all
other angels of the upper sphere of the heavens (as opposed to the sun and
the moon, which are in the lower sphere).
(a) TOSFOS (43a, DH Lo Sa'asun; see HAGAHOS HA'BACH) asks that the Gemara
earlier says that it is forbidden to make an image of the face of a man.
Once we know that it is prohibited to make an image of a man's face, why do
we need another prohibition against making an image of an angel? Since
angels are usually represented in human form including a human face, we
already know that it is prohibited to make an image of an angel and we do
not need a special verse to teach this!
(b) The same question applies with regard to the prohibition against making
an image of the Merkavah. Since a man's face is one of the faces on the
Merkavah, one cannot make the complete Merkavah without first transgressing
the prohibition against making an image of a human face!
(The second question has an important implication. Tosfos obviously
understands that the only prohibition against making the Merkavah is making
the *entire* Merkavah, and not just making one of its faces, because,
otherwise, Tosfos would not have asked this question, since the prohibition
would still be needed to prohibit making the other faces of the Merkavah.
This is also the opinion of the RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:167) and the TUR. This,
however, does not seem to be the opinion of the first explanation of Tosfos
in Yoma 54a.)
(a) TOSFOS answers that no angel really looks like or is feasibly
represented in total human form. For an example of one difference, he cites
the Gemara in Chagigah (15a) that says that angels have no neck. Without an
extra verse, we might have thought that it is permitted to make an image of
an angel without transgressing any prohibition, and therefore the verse is
(b) Tosfos gives a number of answers to the question regarding the
prohibition against making an image of the Merkavah.
1. First, Tosfos says that it is possible that one might find a pre-made
image of a human face and then complete the Merkavah by making the other
three faces, and thus an extra verse is necessary to prohibit it.
2. Alternatively, Tosfos answers that even though there is no need for
another verse, it is possible that the Torah gives two prohibitions (see
Tosfos to Yoma 54b) for making an image of the Merkavah.
3. TOSFOS in Rosh Hashanah (24b, DH Lo Sa'asun) gives an additional answer
to the question regarding the Merkavah. It seems logical to suggest that the
reasoning behind the prohibition against making an image of the face of a
man is because of the importance attributed to man himself, for man is the
highest form of intelligence in this world; because of man's stature,
idolaters tend to turn his image into an Avodah Zarah and worship it. We
might have thought that if the face was made together with the faces of
animals, then it would not be included in the prohibition. Therefore, we
need a special verse to prohibit the making of an image of the Merkavah. The
RITVA here in Avodah Zarah gives a similar answer.
Tosfos in Rosh Hashanah then asks the question in the opposite manner: If
there is a prohibition against making the images of the angels of the upper
sphere of the heavens, then this means that the angels represented in the
Keruvim (on the Aron in the Beis ha'Mikdash) also may not be made. Since we
know that the Keruvim had the faces of humans (see Sukah 5b), we therefore
know as well that it is forbidden to make the face of a man!
Tosfos answers that the premise of the question is incorrect. First, we do
not find that the Keruvim are called "those who serve Hashem" (in the upper
spheres). Second, we do not know what the appearance of the Keruvim is in
the heavens, and therefore this prohibition would not tell us that it is
forbidden to make an image of the face of a man. (Y. Montrose)