Avodah Zarah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

Today’s mishnah is a continuation of the mishnah we learned yesterday, which stated that it is forbidden to conduct transactions with non-Jews three days before their festivals, lest they offer sacrifices or libations to their gods for their transactions with Jews.

 

Mishnah Two             

1)                     Rabbi Ishmael says on the three preceding days and the three following days it is forbidden; 

a)                                           But the Sages say: before their festivities it is forbidden, but after their festivities it is permitted.

 

Explanation

Rabbi Ishmael states that not only is it forbidden to make transactions with non-Jews during the three days before a pagan holiday but it is also forbidden during the three days following the holiday.  In the Palestinian Talmud two potential reasons are given for Rabbi Ishmael’s statement.  The first is that non-Jews continue to celebrate for three days after their holidays are over and therefore these three days are also forbidden.  The second is that if the non-Jew knows that he will not be able to conduct business with the Jew after his holiday, he will be depressed during his holiday and he will engage in less idol worship.

The Sages, who are the same Sages who expressed their opinion in the previous mishnah, prohibit only the three days preceding the holiday and not the three days following.

 

Questions for Further Thought:

·                      What is the qualitative difference between the two reasons given for prohibiting the conduct of business during the three days following the pagan holiday?

 

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