For the week ending 14 April 2012 / 21 Nisan 5772

Keritot 23 - 28

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Can two people be responsible for bringing an atonement sacrifice for eating from the same pair of foods
  • When one who has brought a sacrifice to atone for a doubtful violation discovers he had not sinned
  • Situations in which one relinquishes ownership of property because he mistakenly assumed it was condemned
  • Can one voluntarily offer an asham taluy sacrifice which is for doubtful sinning
  • When Yom Kippur comes before an ashem taluy is brought
  • When money given for purchase of an animal for an asham sacrifice is sufficient for purchase of two
  • A chatat atonement sacrifice purchased for one sin cannot be useful for another sin
  • The bitter fate of the kohen gadol who showed disrespect for the sacrificial service

Sins Known Only to G-d

If a Jew had an obligation to offer a korban chatat (sin offering) or a korban asham (guilt offering) for a sin which he definitely committed, he must make that offering even if Yom Kippur intervened between the time of the sin and the sacrifice. But if there was a doubt as to whether the sin was committed and there is an obligation to offer an asham taluy we consider that sin atoned for by the passing of Yom Kippur and there is no longer any need to offer that sacrifice.

The source for this distinction is the Torah passage (Vayikra 16:30) declaring that Yom Kippur provides purification "from all your sins before G-d." A sin that is known only to G-d is atoned for, but one that is known to the sinner as well requires the atonement of sacrifice even after Yom Kippur.

A challenge to this interpretation is posed by the Gemara from the following case. A woman who gives birth to something of which there is a doubt as to whether it obligates her to offer the sacrifice required of every mother after a normal birth. She is required to offer a sacrifice because of the possibility that the birth obligated her, and must do so even if Yom Kippur passed in the meantime. Since her obligation too is something "known only to G-d" why does she not gain exemption from it with Yom Kippur?

The Gemara's response is that the sacrifice following birth is for the purpose of elevating the mother from her state of ritual impurity rather than atoning for sin, and is therefore not affected by the atonement of Yom Kippur. This explanation, however, does not seem to fit in with the position of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who stated that every woman is guilty of some sin in childbirth because when she experiences the pangs of labor she vows never to have relations again with her husband. The resolution of this problem is that whatever sin she may be guilty of for such a rash vow is atoned for by the pain suffered in the actual birth, and the purpose of the sacrifice is to purify her and make her eligible to eat sacred sacrificial meat. The atonement of Yom Kippur therefore does not affect this sacrifice even according to Rabbi Shimon.

  • Keritot 26a

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