Berachos 14a:

אָמַר רַב: כָּל הַנּוֹתֵן שָׁלוֹם לַחֲבֵירוֹ קוֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל כְּאִילּוּ עֲשָׂאוֹ בָּמָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״חִדְלוּ לָכֶם מִן הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר נְשָׁמָה בְּאַפּוֹ כִּי בַמֶּה נֶחְשָׁב הוּא״. אַל תִּקְרֵי, ״בַּמֶּה״ אֶלָּא ״בָּמָה״.

Rav said, "Whoever greets his friend before praying, it's as if he made him a private altar, as it says, 'Cease from you man, in whose nostrils there is breath, for how little [בַמֶּה] is he considered' – don't read it as 'for how little [בַמֶּה],' but rather, 'a private altar [בָּמָה].'"

What is this comparison, exactly? The case of a private altar is one who offers a karban to Hashem outside the Beis HaMikdash – but it's still being offered to Hashem. Here, he's neglecting Hashem and instead giving importance to someone else; should the comparison not be to idolatry, rather than to a private altar?

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    Cf. Sotah 4b, where 'Ulla uses the same d'rasha to denounce people who are arrogant. Rashi over there says it indeed refers to a private altar of idolatry. – Fred Jan 23 '20 at 0:59
  • @Fred That's fascinating, thanks for the source. According to Rashi there, what's the difference between Ulla and R' Yochanan? – DonielF Jan 23 '20 at 1:00
  • I don't think there's a fundamental difference between them, just that each formulation was more suitable to the accompanying d'rasha. Maybe you can teitch some subtle nuance of difference between them, though (worship idolatry vs. build an idolatrous altar). – Fred Jan 23 '20 at 1:12
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    This rule only makes sense if you know about Roman Salutatio thoughtco.com/ancient-roman-history-salutatio-112667 The greeting is not what you think it is. – Double AA Jan 23 '20 at 13:09
  • @DoubleAA See the remark of the Rif, "והני מילי במשכים לפתחו אבל בשאינו משכים לפתחו שרי דתנן בפרקים שואל מפני הכבוד ומשיב שלום לכל אדם", specifying the problem is only going out of your way to greet someone at their home before prayers (though some acharonim extend this to going out of your way to greet someone even in a different part of the shul, see MB 89:9). Perhaps that might smack of some kind of subservience. – Fred Jan 23 '20 at 19:06

ArtScroll Brachos 14a2 note 18 explains this by comparing someone who is davening to someone who is in the process of bringing the karbonos on the mizbeach. One is worshiping Hashem in an improper manner. It is like building an altar to Hashem in one's back yard

Our prayers are a substitute for the offering that were brought while the Temple stood. Therefore, one who greets his fellow in the morning before greeting Hashem through his prayers resembles one who goes to bring offerings on a bamah and abandons the offerings of the Temple Altar (Maharsha).

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    But...why? Why is the comparison to a Bamah and not to idolatry? – DonielF Jan 24 '20 at 2:12
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    @DonielF Because one is not worshiping an idol. One is worshiping Hashem in an improper manner. It is like building an altar to Hashem in one's back yard. – sabbahillel Jan 24 '20 at 3:28
  • How is greeting a friend worshiping Hashem improperly? – DonielF Jan 24 '20 at 5:20
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    @DonielF because the person is still attempting to worship Hashem and not an idol. He is just doing it incorrectly. – sabbahillel Jan 26 '20 at 3:05
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    And I fail to understand how this answers the question. To me the "therefore" is a non-sequitur. – DonielF Jan 26 '20 at 16:25

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