What are the definitions of the various types of witchcraft mentioned in the Torah? Why is baal ov and yidoni mentioned in this mishna but in the mishna in critut only baal ov is mentioned? Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish offer two different answers. Their opinions are analyzed in the gemara. What is considered an action? Generally one is only obligated for actions, according to the rabbis. How much of an action is needed to obligate one? Is moving one’s lips an action? Bowing to an idol? Rabbi Akiva obligates even without an action – but does he include any non-action? Or does he have some minimal criteria?
Did the Jews worship idols because they believed in them or for other reasons? How is it that the evil inclination for idol worship doesn’t exist anymore? A story, based on the elaboration on a verse if Zecharia is brought to illustrate how this transpired. How does one violate the prohibition to pass one’s son or daughter to Molech?
If one does various forbidden acts to another god and doesn’t know that it is forbidden and then finds out, is one obligated to bring several sin offerings for each act or is it all considered one act? Does one get lashes for acts that he does relating to idols mentioned in the mishna for which one does not receive the death penalty? Is one allowed to mention the name of other gods or cause others (non Jews) to swear in the name of other gods? Can one go into a partnership with an idol worshipper?
Rabbi Yirmiya explains that slaughtering was specified in the verse in the Torah to teach you that anyone who worships other gods in ways that God is worshiped in the temple, whether it’s the typical way of worshiping that god or not, one is obligated in the death penalty. Then bowing is specified to teach that bowing has the same law (even though it is not one of the ways Jews worship God) as the others but all other methods of worshiping idols is only if they are done in the way that that idol is typically worshiped. Rava bar Rav Natan questions Rabbi Yirmiya and suggests the opposite – that one should learn from bowing that any act of worshiping idols is forbidden even if not done in the typical way or worship. Various difficulties with Rava’s suggestion are brought. Rav Hamnuna is asked a question about contradictory mishnayot – one indicates that only worship is forbidden but not saying I will worship. The other says that saying “I will worship idols” is enough to obligate one. SEveral answers are brought to explain the contradiction. Is one obligated if one worships idols out of love or fear for another?
There are those who have 8 Noachide laws. From where did they derive the 8th one? The process in the court mentioned in the mishna of how the witnesses actually tell how the person cursed God and the reaction of the judges is discussed and derivations from the Tanach for the laws are brought. For what acts of idol worship is one killed? How are these learned out from the Torah verses? For what idol worship is one considered to have violated a negative commandment (lashes)?
The gemara brings statements saying that non-Jews cannot keep Shabbat or learn Torah. What are possible reasons for these prohibitions? A rule is brought that says how we know whether a commandment given to sons of Noach originally continued to be for everyone even after Jews received the Torah. Additionally, how do we know which ones were meant to be for only for Jews. Exceptions to the rule are brought to question the general rule and are resolved. Noach was permitted to eat meat but Adam was not allowed. The gemara questions this and through the questions a number of interesting issues are raised including, why did the snake seduce Adam and Chava? What is the status of meat that falls from the sky – can it assumed to be pure? Perhaps this is an image relating to heavenly voices vs. court rulings as referred to in other contexts in the gemara.
Which forbidden relations apply also to non Jews? Two different approaches are brought.
Which commandments are included in the Noachide laws? What is the punishment for one who doesn’t abide by them? Is the punishment the same for all of them? Even though Jews are commanded also to keep the same laws, various details about them are different. The gemara discusses a number of differences.
Under what circumstances is one obligated the death penalty for cursing God? Cursing God is also one of the Noachide laws. What are the Noachide laws? There are several different opinions regarding which commandments they are obligated to keep. Not all agree that there are seven.
Rabbi Yehuda according to the version in our mishna, holds (against the rabbis) that if one has relations with one’s mother who is also one’s father’s wife, he is only obligated once (in a case that it was accidental, he would only bring one sin offering). Several attempts are brought to explain where he derives this halacha, which leads to a long braita about how the 2 verses in Vayikra chapter 18 that relate to the father’s wife and one’s mother are extrapolated. After explaining how Rabbi Yehuda explains those verses and the ones in Vayikra 20 where the punishment is mentioned, the gemara then explains how the rabbis explain those verses. The mishna then discusses homosexual relations and bestiality and the gemara proceeds to extrapolate the verses relating to those situations.