כ׳ באדר ה׳תשע״ב (March 14, 2012)

Temurah 28a-b – The prohibition of idol worship in the Temple

The sixth perek (=chapter) of Massekhet Temurah, which begins on today’s daf (=page) turns its attention to situations where things about an animal preclude it from being brought as a sacrifice. The first Mishnah lists a number of situations where an animal’s situation is such that not only is it disqualified from the altar, but that if it gets mixed together with other animals, none of them can be brought as sacrifices until we determine which animal is the problematic one and have it removed.
Among the list of animals that are disqualified from being brought as sacrifices, two of them involve situations related to avodah zara – idol worship. They are muktzeh – “set aside” – and ne’evad – “worshipped.” The Mishnah notes that although such animals cannot be used as part of the sacrificial service in the Temple, they can be slaughtered and eaten as ordinary meat, since an animal that was worshipped does not become forbidden for mundane purposes.
The Mishnah explains each of these situations –
1. Muktzeh refers to an animal that has been set aside – but not yet used – for idol worship. The Rambam explains that this is only true if some act was done that identified the animal as set aside for this purpose; mere thought or verbal statement would not be sufficient. According to his approach, there seems to be no difference whether the animal was set aside as a sacrifice for idol worship or if it was to be the object of such worship. The Ra’avad agrees that if the animal was to be a sacrifice an act would be needed to make it forbidden, but if the animal was set aside as a deity then it is automatically forbidden.

2. Ne’evad is an animal that has actually been worshipped as avodah zara. In truth, it is forbidden to derive benefit from an object that was worshipped even for mundane purposes, but this is only if the object was man-made or if the idol worship involved an act that affected the object itself. Therefore, a living animal that was worshipped remains unaffected for mundane purposes. Nevertheless, Jewish law views the use of such an animal in the context of the sacrificial service to be abhorrent, and therefore forbidden.

 

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