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Shabbat Parashat Tazria Metzora| 5770

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: Partnership with an Idol Worshiper (63b)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Nissan 27- Iyar 3, Sanhedrin 58-64


This week in the Daf Hayomi, the Gemara deals with the halachot of idolatry. Amongst the halachot mentioned in the Gemara (63b) is the prohibition to enter into a partnership with an idol worshiper. The reason for this is that, in partnerships, it is common that one partner is suspicious of the other, and the other partner is required to swear to clear the suspicion. It is likely that the idol worshiper will be required to take an oath, and he will swear in the name of his idolatry, and thus the Jew caused an oath to be taken in the name of idolatry.

The Tosafot (d"h asur) deal with the question of if a Jew does reach a situation when an idol worshiper must swear to him, if he is permitted to make him swear. According to the Rashbam, it is prohibited, since even entering a partnership is prohibited out of the concern that one may cause the idol worshiper to swear, so, of course, making him swear is prohibited. However, according to Rabeinu Tam, it is permitted. Only initially causing a situation where the idol worshiper would be required to swear is prohibited. But, if one is already in a situation where the idol worshiper is required to swear, the Jew need not forfeit his claim, and he is allowed to force the idol worshiper to swear out of hope that he will admit the truth.

Regarding entering a partnership with a gentile, the Rosh (7, 3) writes that, nowadays, one may be lenient, because the gentiles do not really use the name of idolatry when swearing, and their intent is to the creator, and even if they combine the name of God with something else, there is no prohibition to cause such an oath. The Ran (Avodah Zarah 7a in the pages of the Rif) in the name of the Ramban states another reason to be lenient: he claims that there is no real prohibition to enter a partnership with a gentile, and it is only praiseworthy to refrain from doing so, since it is possible that gentiles are not prohibited from swearing in the name of an idolatry.  Therefore, since the Jew is not forcing the gentile to swear in the name of the idolatry, but rather he does so out of his own volition, it is permitted.


Summary and Ruling:

The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 176, 51) rules that it is prohibited to enter into a partnership with an idol worshiper, and if one does enter and the idol worshiper is now required to swear to him, he is allowed to make him swear. The Remma (Orach Chaim 156, 1) rules that one may be lenient and enter into a partnership with a gentile nowadays, since their intent when they swear is to the creator.  


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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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