ד׳ באב ה׳תשע״א (August 4, 2011)

Hullin 39a-b – Ecumenical interaction in Caesarea

In the context of the disagreement between and Rabbi Eliezer that we learned about on yesterday’s daf(=page), the Gemara brings a baraita that teaches that if someone slaughters an animal with the intention of sprinkling its blood for idolatry or sacrifice its fats to an idol, that animal is forbidden; it is as if one ate “sacrifices of the dead.” If it was slaughtered without any particular plans and afterwards the decision was made to sprinkle its blood for idolatry or sacrifice its fats to an idol – this case occurred in the city of Caesarea, and the Sages refused to rule one way or another. Rav Hisda explains that they did not want to forbid it out of respect for the Sages who do not assume that every non-Jewish slaughter was intended for idolatry, and they did not want to permit it out of respect for Rabbi Eliezer who insists that we must assume that every non-Jewish slaughter is intended for idolatry.

 

Caesarea is an ancient city on the Mediterranean coast. The city was established at the beginning of the second Temple era by the king of Sidon. Over the generations it became less and less important, and Alexander Yannai captured it and included it in the Kingdom of Judea. By the end of the second Temple period, King Herod had once again built it into an important port city. Nevertheless, from its beginning it was a city with a non-Jewish and even pagan quality to it. Caesarea became the administrative center of the Roman rule in Israel in the year 6 CE, and although many Jews lived there at that time, there was constant tension between them and their non-Jewish neighbors.

 

With the destruction of Jerusalem, Caesarea grew in importance until it became the de facto capital of the country until the Muslim capture of the country. During the Talmudic period, many of the Sages were residents of the city, including Rabbi Hoshaya and Rabbi Abahu. It remained a wealthy and important city until its destruction in the 13th century, CE.