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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo| 5770

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: Mar'it Ayin (Avodah Zarah 12a)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Elul 12-18, Avodah Zarah 8-14


This week in the Daf Hayomi we continue learning the halachot of idolatry. One of the prohibitions listed in the Gemara is mar'it ayin (the appearance) of idolatry. For example, if one dropped coins before a statue of idolatry, it is prohibited to bend down to pick them up, because it will appear as though one is bowing down to the idol. The Gemara states that, even if no one will see him bending down, it is prohibited, because "anything that the Sages prohibited because of mar'it ayin is prohibited even in the inner rooms."

However, this principle regarding mari't ayin is a matter of dispute. The Mishna in Masechet Shabbat (146b) states that one is not allowed to lay out wet clothes to dry on Shabbat, because it will appear as though one did laundry on Shabbat. The Gemara quotes a dispute between the Tana'im regarding whether it is permitted to lay out the clothes in a place where people can't see. The dispute is whether things that are prohibited because of mar'it ayin are prohibited even when other people are not present.

The Rishonim disagree as to how to rule. The Rif (Shabbat 62a) prohibits, his proof being our Gemara in Avodah Zarah, which seems to have ruled according to this opinion. However, Rav Nissim Gaon (quoted by the Rosh in Shabbat 22, 9) was lenient, and he brought proofs from several places in the Gemara where it appears that the Sages were lenient in situations where other people cannot see what one is doing.

A few resolutions were offered against the proofs of Rav Nissim Gaon. The Ran (Beitza 5a in the pages of the Rif) explains that the reason "anything that the Sages prohibited because of mar'it ayin is prohibited even in the inner rooms" is, because the Sages were concerned that a person will think that no one can see him while there really will be someone watching him. However, regarding things which are not prohibited because of mar'it ayin but because of other reasons, the Gemara at times differentiates between a public and private place because in cases of special need the Sages were lenient if one does so in a way where he will not be seen.

The Tosafot (Ketuvot 60a d"h mema'achan) differentiate in a different fashion. If the concern is that it will appear that one is doing something prohibited by the Torah, then one may not do it even if he will not be seen. However, if the concern is only that it will appear as if he is doing something prohibited by the Sages, then it is not prohibited if others cannot see.

 

Summary and Ruling:

The Mechaber (Orach Chaim 301, 45) rules that anything prohibited because of mar'it ayin, is prohibited even if no one will see him do it. The Mishna Berurah (165) rules leniently like the Tosafot, that if the mar'it ayin is of a rabbinic prohibition, it is permitted if done privately.   

 

 

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Dedication

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated
to the memory of

the beloved friend of

Eretz Hemdah

Doris (Doba) Moinester
whose Yahrtzeit is 23rd of Elul

 

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

o.b.m 

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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