Keritot 16 - 22
- Multiple Shabbat violations of similar nature on a number of Shabbatot
- When there is doubt whether one involuntarily sinned
- When are separate atonement sacrifices required for repetitive sinning
- When there is doubt as to which of two involuntary sins was committed
- The concept of mitaseik – committing a sin while intending to do something else
- Which bloods are forbidden by Torah or Rabbinical law
- When blood of fish or humans may or may not be consumed
- Atonement sacrifice for doubtful involuntary misuse of sacred property
A Tale of Two Sacrifices
Just as there is a sacrifice of korban chatat to serve as an atonement for involuntary transgression of a sin whose punishment for intentional transgression is karet (premature death), there is a sacrifice of korban asham taluy to protect one who is not certain that he has even committed such as sin.
If someone ate chelev (forbidden animal fat) which he mistakenly assumed was shuman (permissible fat), he is considered a shogeg (involuntary sinner) and must offer a chatat (sin offering) as atonement.
But a different scenario introduces a different sort of sacrifice. There were two pieces of fat before him, one chelev and one shuman, and he mistakenly assumed that both were shuman and ate one of them. After both pieces were gone he was informed that one of them had been chelev but he is not certain as to which piece he ate. Since there is a doubt as to whether he actually ate the forbidden piece and incurred an obligation to offer a chatat, he is required to offer an asham taluy (a doubtful guilt offering). His purpose is to protect himself from Heavenly punishment, and if he eventually clarifies that he did indeed eat the forbidden piece he must offer a chatat.
It is interesting to note that the ram which must be used for the asham taluy must have a minimal value of two shekalim, while the lamb or goat used for the chatat need not be more valuable than a danka, which is one forty-eighthof two shekalim.
Why must so much more be spent on atonement for a doubtful sin than for one which was certainly committed?
Rabbeinu Yonah of Girondi, one of the classical Talmudic commentaries, offers a fascinating explanation in his commentary on Mesechta Berachot (1b). When one is certain that he committed a sin by being careless and involuntarily eating forbidden fat or violating Shabbat, he takes the matter to heart, regrets his behavior and repents wholeheartedly. But when he is not certain that he actually committed a sin, he tends to rationalize that the piece he ate was not the forbidden one and therefore does not set his mind to repenting. The Torah therefore required him to spend much more money on the animal for this sacrifice so that he will realize the gravity of his action and properly repent.
- Keritot 18a