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Avodah Zarah 26a-b

In a passage here, Rav Yosef instructs us to leave idolators and 'shepherds of small animals' in pits. Abaye constructs an excuse to fish them out. Abahu stands with leaving them in there, and in some cases instructs us to put them there.

  1. What is the halacha that results from this?
  2. Even granted the notion that sheep-and-goat herders have a propensity for criminal behavior, how do the authorities here make the leap to the apparent death sentence of being left unrescued from a pit?
  3. What are English-language sources to read that comment on this passage and/or put it into context?
  4. Is this a serious discussion of behavior, or an exercise in drawing conclusions from Torah or Mishnah?
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  • Was it R. Yosef or R. Abbahu to R. Yochanan?
    – ezra
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 18:26
  • Both, for two different nuances. Also, I may have misread 'an excuse to fish them out', it might really be 'an excuse to make it harder for them to get out'. Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 18:29

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