כ״ב בניסן ה׳תשע״ב (April 14, 2012)

Keritot 26a-b – Substituting Yom Kippur for a conditional guilt-offering

As we have learned, the asham taluy sacrifice is “conditional.” This is because the status of this case remains uncertain until the facts regarding the possible sin are clarified, or because the sacrifice does not offer full atonement, rather it serves to protect the individual from Heavenly punishment in the event that he did, in fact, sin unknowingly.

There is a certain parallel between this sacrifice and the atonement offered by Yom Kippur. The Mishnah on yesterday’s daf (=page) teaches that if someone was obligated to bring an asham taluy and Yom Kippur fell out before he had an opportunity to do so, he will no longer need to bring the korban. This stands in contrast with the obligation to bring any other sacrifice, which remains in effect even after Yom Kippur, since Yom Kippur does not atone for sins that the person is aware of and must atone for on his own.

Rabbi Elazar explains the source for this rule based on the passage in Sefer Vayikra (16:30) that states “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the LORD.” This is interpreted to mean that Yom Kippur offers atonement for sins known only to God – which would include the kind of questionable sins for which an asham taluy is brought.

The Gemara asks whether this would include the sin-offering brought by a woman who is uncertain whether she is obligated in the  after she gave birth (e.g., when she miscarried and it is unclear whether the embryo had developed to a point where she is obligated in the sacrifice – see Vayikra 12:6). If Yom Kippur passed, would she be free of her obligation, given that only God knows whether she was truly obligated in the sacrifice?

Rav Hoshiya responds that she must bring the sacrifice. Not all sin-offerings come for atonement of sin. A woman after childbirth brings a sacrifice as part of her purification ritual, so that she can now enter the Temple and eat sanctified foods. Yom Kippur’s effect is limited to atonement and cannot impact on issues of ritual purity.

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