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Shabbat Parashat Ki Teitzei| 5770

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: Business with Gentiles on their Holidays (Avodah Zarah 2a)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Elul 5-11, Shevuot 49- Avodah Zarah 7


This week in the Daf Hayomi we begin learning Masechet Avodah Zarah. The first Mishna states that three days before a holiday of idol worshippers one is not allowed to do business with them. Rashi explains that the reason for the prohibition is that we are concerned that when the idol worshipper celebrates his holiday he will give thanks to his God for the deal he made. However, the Gemara (7b) states that this prohibition exists only in Israel, while in the Diaspora, business is prohibited only on the day of the holiday itself. 

The Tosafot (2a d"h Assur) write that from the words of Rashi it appears that any buying and selling with idol worshippers is prohibited on their holidays. However, the Tosafot state that the common custom is to do business with gentiles on their holidays. To explain the custom, the Tosafot offer a few resolutions.

The first answer is that we are concerned that hatred will develop if the gentiles will see that we are refraining from doing business with them on their holidays. However, the Tosafot reject this, since there are many dealings that one can abstain from without someone realizing that this is done purposely.

The second answer of the Tosafot is that the gentiles we live among are not idol worshippers, and where there are no idol worshippers, the Sages did not prohibit.

The Tosafot offer another answer in the name of Rabbeinu Tam. According to Rabbeinu Tam, the prohibition to do business with them is limited to selling them something they might sacrifice. Therefore, in the times of Chazal, one was not allowed to sell them an animal, since they might sacrifice it on the holiday. However, nowadays, gentiles do not usually offer sacrifices. Even though they do give money to their priests, it is not given as a sacrifice but rather it is given for the priest's pleasure.


Summary and Ruling:

The Mechaber (Yoreh Deah 148, 12) quotes the second answer of the Tosafot that today’s gentiles are not defined as idol worshippers. The Remma adds the additional answers of the Tosafot, that they do not use the money for sacrifices, and that we are concerned that hatred will develop.  


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

Yitzchak Eliezer ben

Avraham Mordechai Jacobson


This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

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