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Shabbos 149


QUESTION: RASHI (DH Asur l'Kroso b'Shabbos) writes that a person is not allowed to read the caption below a picture drawn on the wall because of a Rabbinical decree, lest he read contracts (Shetarei Hedyotos).

Why should reading captions under drawings be forbidden because of Shetarei Hedyotos? The Gemara earlier said that one will *not* confuse reading something that is written on the wall with reading Shetarei Hedyotos!


(a) RAV SIMCHAH from DESVI (in his comments printed in the back of the Vilna Shas) suggests that since such a drawing may not viewed altogether during the week, the Rabanan prohibited reading the caption under such a drawing on Shabbos.

(b) The ME'IRI seems to say that reading this caption is not forbidden because *one might come to* read Shetarei Hedyotos, but because this caption itself *is* Shetarei Hedyotos. Contracts may not be read because they have nothing to do with Shabbos (SHITAH L'RAN), and this caption, too, may not be read because it has nothing to do with Shabbos.

OPINIONS: The Gemara says that it is forbidden to look at drawings during the week. To what type of drawing does this prohibition apply, and why is it forbidden to look at it?
(a) RASHI (DH El mi'Da'atchem, and TOSFOS in Avodah Zarah 50a) explains that it is forbidden because one who gazes at such drawings is wasting time with an imagined, dreamt up reality. This can be interpreted in a number of ways:
(1) The ME'IRI explains that a person who looks at such drawings is wasting time and drawing himself away from serving Hashem.
(2) The RITVA adds that a person should give his attention only to Hashem's creations in order to be awed by Hashem's wonders, rather than to manmade creations.
(3) Rashi mentions that a person should not look at drawings of "strange creatures or pictures of events of the past." RAV YAKOV D. HOMNICK (MARBEH SHALOM #22) points out that from Rashi means it would appear that it is only prohibited to look at the type of picture that is based on human imagination -- pictures that depict objects or events that a person would otherwise have no conception of. However, to draw and look at other pictures, such as pictures of natural scenery and multicolored frescos, is permissible (as is clear from the Gemara in Bava Metzia 115a), since a person either knows what these things look like without using his imagination, or because they do not represent any particular object at all. (See Marbeh Shalom there for a deeper explanation why pictures based on human imagination are prohibited.)
(b) TOSFOS and the ROSH explain that it is forbidden only if the drawing was made for *Avodah Zarah* (even if it was not actually worshipped as such). Since it was made for the purpose of Avodah Zarah it is forbidden to look at it.
HALACHAH: The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 307:23, cited by the Bi'ur Halachah) writes that the custom is to be lenient and allow drawings unless they were made for Avodah Zarah. He adds that it is certainly permitted to look at them casually, without gazing intently at them.


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