Keritot 7 - 14
Two Kinds of Fools
Two kinds of fools are mentioned by King Solomon in his Mishlei (Proverbs). The passages dealing with them serve as clues to the Tamudic Sages for concluding that a nazir must offer the sacrifices prescribed by the Torah as atonement for becoming ritually impure through contact with the dead regardless of whether such contact was intentional or accidental.
The first is (Mishlei 14:15) "The fool believes everything." As Rashi explains in his commentary, this refers to the foolishness of one who gives credence to all the reports of talebearers. This sort of impropriety is the unintentional result of naivete and is applied to the unintentional contact of the nazir with the dead.
But there is a second kind of fool described in Mishlei 22:3: "The clever person anticipates the harm that may come and avoids it, while the fools transgress and are punished." Rashi there explains that the harm referred to in this passage is the punishment which comes for sin. Since punishment comes only for intentional sin, Rashi in our gemara points out that the fool described here is one who willfully ignores the consequences of his sinful action, and the application to the nazir is in regard to one who intentionally violates the sanctity of the status he has assumed by coming into contact with the dead.
- Keritot 9a
The Original "Minuteman"
The "minuteman" is familiar to students of American history as the revolutionary warrior who was prepared to go to battle against the hated British "Redcoats" on a minutes notice.
The original "minuteman", however, was prepared for a different sort of mission. The scapegoat on Yom Kippur was to carry the sins of the Jewish People out to a distant cliff in the wilderness and thus achieve atonement for the sins of the nation. The Kohen Gadol who performed the entire service on this holy day was commanded to "send it out into the wilderness with a man who had been appointed for this role". (Vayikra 16:21)
The use of the term "man" led our Sages to conclude that this "minuteman" did not have to be a kohen. The Torahs stress on this mission being performed by the very man who had been appointed for it led to the conclusion that he would be qualified for this role even if he became ritually impure before he was to begin.
In Mesechta Yoma (66b) the gemara asks why it was necessary to make this deduction from the Torah, since there is no apparent reason for disqualifying one ritually impure for leading the scapegoat to its death. The answer given is that this appointed minuteman is permitted to enter the Beit Hamikdash to take the scapegoat, an area which is out of bounds for any other ritually impure person.
But why, ask the commentaries, was it necessary for him to enter the Sanctuary in this state rather than have the scapegoat brought out to him? The answer lies in an earlier passage (ibid. 16:10) in which there is an instruction that while the goat designated as a sacrifice is slaughtered the one serving the role of scapegoat must remain "standing alive before G-d". It is therefore necessary to the "minuteman" to enter the Sanctuary and take the scapegoat from its presence before G-d.
- Keritot 14a