Daf Yomi Avodah Zarah 52

The daf for 3/8/18 comes from Meseches Avodah Zarah 52. There is an interesting statement made in the middle of a discussion about the vessels used for idol worship (translation from The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren Noe Talmud Bavli):

What is an asherah tree? Biblical scholars have associated Asherah (feminine) with both a Canaanite and Ugaritic goddess-cult as well as a symbolic pole used for pagan worship. We see a reference to asherah in the first book of Kings (chapter 14:15,22,23 ; translation from The Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by JPS):

In these verses, we see asherah translated as “sacred posts”. The interesting thing in the gemara is the association of appointing unqualified judges with the planting of asherim! The Rambam in his Mishneh Torah, Sefer Shoftim sets out some of the concepts for appointing judges (from, public domain sourcing English translation by Moses Hymanson, 1937):

It is interesting to compare the method described by Maimonides with the “Western” method. The subject of judging and penalties in the Talmud was covered in Meseches Sanhedrin and will not be discussed here.

About the Author
Jonathan Wolf is a retired high school physics teacher. He retired to NJ with his wife. He is an adjunct professor of physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has published professional papers and has been the author of AP Physics review books as well as general HS and college physics review books. He is a past President and ritual chairman at a conservative synagogue on Long Island, NY before he retired to NJ.
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