For the week ending 3 July 2010 / 20 Tammuz 5770

Shavuot 9 - 14

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The atonement achieved by the goat offerings on Festivals and Rosh Chodesh
  • When awareness of the sin of entering Sanctuary in state of impurity is missing either before or after
  • Is Rosh Chodesh considered a mo’ed?
  • What is done with a surplus of animals for daily communal sacrifices
  • The power of the rabbinical court to deal with the status of sanctified objects
  • Redemption of the red heifer dead or alive
  • The atonement achieved by Yom Kippur sacrifices
  • The different levels of atonement required for sins
  • The two goats of Yom Kippur
  • Atonement for kohanim and for all Jewry
  • Variations of forgetting which can obligate one in offering a sacrifice

Atonement for Unawareness

  • Shavuot 14b

If one entered the Beit Hamikdash in an impure state, either because he forgot his impurity or because he was unaware that he was in that sacred place, he is obligated to offer an atonement sacrifice. (Vayikra 5:2-3)

The requirement that he be initially aware that there was a Beit Hamikdash but unaware of now being in its precinct raises an interesting problem posed by Rabbi Yirmiyahu. What if someone came from Babylon to Yerushalayim and mistakenly entered the Beit Hamikdash in an impure state? Is the fact that he was aware that a Beit Hamikdash existed sufficient for serving as an initial awareness, or is his total unawareness of where it was located considered as his never having the initial knowledge which is a prerequisite for offering a sacrifice? No resolution is reached regarding this question.

Tosefot asks why this immigrant from Babylon is even considered as having no awareness of the location of the Beit Hamikdash when he could have made an inquiry to gain this information, for it has already been established that the ability to gain awareness is equivalent to awareness itself.

The answer is that the situation described by Rabbi Yirmiyahu took place after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash when information on its location was not so readily available.

It must be noted that according to this approach Rabbi Yirmiyahu's question was a theoretical one since there is no opportunity to offer a sacrifice when there is no Beit Hamikdash. The only application would be the need to record the mistake made and offer a sacrifice when the Beit Hamikdash will be rebuilt.

What the Sages Say

"If one was guilty of failing to fulfill a positive commandment and he repents he is immediately forgiven."

  • Beraita - Shavuot 12b

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