כ״ג בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (April 8, 2018)

Horayot 8a-b: The Unique Case of Idol Worship

Aside from the passages that we have been discussing in Massekhet Horayot that appear in Sefer Vayikra (chapter 4) that teach the laws of sacrifices for a , the High Court or the king whose error in judgment leads to accidental transgressions, there is another set of passages in Sefer Bamidbar (15:27-29) that also teach of a unique sacrifice that is brought in such a case. The Gemara on today’s daf explains that the passages in Sefer refer to a specific case – when avoda zara was performed because of an error in judgment.

How is it evident from these passages that they refer to avoda zara, which is not mentioned explicitly there?

A number of explanations are suggested by the Gemara.

In the beit midrash of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi it was taught that we derive this because of the references to these mitzvot as being spoken to Moshe by God, and also commanded by God to the Jewish People by means of Moshe. Which mitzva is unique in that it was spoken by God and commanded to the Jewish People by Moshe? The suggestion is that this refers to the first two of the Ten Commandments, which are spoken in the first person. These two commandments teach the laws of avoda zara.

Rava teaches that when the Torah says that it is referring to someone who errs and transgresses et kol hamitzvot ha-eleh – all of the mitzvot – we must search for a mitzva that is representative of all the mitzvot. He argues that avoda zara is the mitzva that is representative of all the mitzvot.

Although we find other examples of Rabbinic teachings that suggest that a given mitzva is equivalent to the entire spectrum of mitzvot, nevertheless the commandments regarding belief in God are viewed as truly basic to all of the mitzvot.

Rashi explains Rava’s teaching as being based on the Rabbinic teaching that anyone who accepts avoda zara, by definition rejects the entire Torah. The Meiri suggests that once someone accepts a foreign god, it is clear that the mitzvot have no importance of meaning to him, so it is as if he rejects them all.