Thursday, March 15, 2007

A thought on an Agadata about early Xianity

I saw the following fascinating Gemara in Avoda Zara 17a and I had an observation about a possible reason why this particular story was chosen and what it says about the difference between Xianity and Yahadus (l'havdil elef alfei havdalos).

אמר לו עקיבא הזכרתני פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בשוק העליון של ציפורי ומצאתי אחד {מתלמידי יש"ו הנוצרי} ויעקב איש כפר סכניא שמו אמר לי כתוב בתורתכם (דברים כג) לא תביא אתנן זונה [וגו'] מהו לעשות הימנו בהכ"ס לכ"ג ולא אמרתי לו כלום אמר לי כך לימדני {יש"ו הנוצרי} (מיכה א) [כי] מאתנן זונה קבצה ועד אתנן זונה ישובו ממקום הטנופת באו למקום
הטנופת ילכו והנאני הדבר על ידי זה נתפסתי למינות

Rebbe Elazar was captured by the Roman in an effort to convert him. The gemara goes into the story of what happened, but eventually he was freed. He was very upset afterwards and didn't know why this had happened to him. His talmidim tried to comfort him. But Rebbe Akiva came and reminded Rebbe Elazar of something he, himself, had taught Rebbe Akiva. "Perhaps you heard words of heresy and you enjoyed them?" Rebbe Elazar responded that indeed one time it happened that he was walking in the Upper Market of Tzippori when a student of Yeshu HaNotzri (Yaakov Ish Kfar Sachania) engaged him in conversation. He asked Rebbe Elazar, "It says in your Torah that you cannot use something used to pay the fee for a zona in the Bais Hamikdash [as a korban]. Could you use it for building a bathroom though (in the area the Kohain Gadol lives in, in preperation for the Yom Kippur service)? Rebbe Elazar didn't answer. Yaakov answered it himself (quoting Yeshu). Since the pasuk in Micha says, "From the fee of the zona it came, and to the fee of the zona it shall return." This teaches that when something comes from a place of disgustingness, it shall return to a place of disgustingness (and therefore you can use zona's fee in the building of a bathroom in the Bais Hamikdash). I enjoyed his answer and that must be why I was taken captive.

I was thinking; What's wrong with this pshat? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with proving Xianity or any type of heresy. It's simply giving a teretz to a sha'ala from a pasuk. Also, why is this particular teaching of Yeshu's used in the gemara as the one Rebbe Elazar wrongly got hano'oh from?

A possible way of understanding this: In Yahadus, everything is or can be kodesh, holy. There is nothing, whether it comes to food, marriage relationships, work, sleeping, the bathroom, etc. that can't be and shouldn't be used for kedusha, holiness. Therefore, the Jewish view would be that the bathroom the Kohain Gadol uses in preparation for service in the Bais Hamikdash is also holy, just like the rest of the Bais Hamikdash.

Xianity on the other hand separates good and evil. There's satan, the "god" of the bad things, and there's G-d, who's in charge of the good things. But the two don't mix. When you're in church, you're religious. When you're home, hanging out with friends, or in the bathroom, you're just a regular secular guy. There's no such thing as sanctifying the secular. This is why their priests and nuns are celibate. They don't believe that the "secular" aspects of married life can be sanctified.

Therefore, the bathroom of the Temple can't be holy to them. It's just a place of disgustingness, just like the fee paid to a zona. Therefore, he was able to say about it that since the fee came from a place of disgustingness (tinofes), it shall return to a place of disgustingness.

Our view, however, is not that way, and we must view even the "bathroom of the Bais Hamikdash" as a holy place. Because everything, if used l'shem Shamayim, has kedusha and shouldn't be defiled by the zona's fee.

Perhaps this is why it was wrong for Rebbe Elazar to have enjoyed that peshat, Since it goes against our whole hashafas hachaim. This can also explain why this particular teaching and story was taught by the gemara, because it teaches us a great deal about the difference in approach to life between Xianity (l'havdil) and Yahadus.

-Dixie Yid

The picture at the top is from a fortress in Tzippori, where the story took place.

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