When is a sacrifice brought on Shabbat, and when do we need to wait until after Shabbat to bring it?
One suggestion raised by the Gemara is that the distinction is whether the sacrifice is a communal one or if it is the sacrifice of an individual. According to this suggestion, a sacrifice brought by the community is doheh Shabbat (“pushes aside” Shabbat), while a personal sacrifice will wait until after Shabbat to be brought.
Rabbi Ya’akov points out that a par he’elem davar shel tzibbur (the bull brought on behalf of the community when a mistaken ruling was given) is a communal sacrifice, yet it cannot be brought on Shabbat.
Rather, grasp this principle: Any offering that has a fixed time for its sacrifice overrides Shabbat and ritual impurity even if it is an individual offering; and any offering of no fixed time overrides neither Shabbat nor ritual impurity, and this is the case even if it is a communal offering. With regard to the issue at hand, as the emphasis of both Rabbi Meir’s and Rabbi Ya’akov’s statements is whether the offerings they referred to override Shabbat and ritual impurity, not their classification as individual or communal offerings, nothing can be inferred from their comments in this regard. Consequently, it remains possible that the bull of the High Priest is an individual offering.
The case of par he’elem davar shel tzibbur is presented by the Torah in Vayikra 4:13-21. There the Torah teaches that in the event that the court rules erroneously on a given case, and the majority of the community sins due to that ruling, the court will be obligated to bring a sacrifice on behalf of the community. This communal sacrifice replaces the individual sacrifices that would have been brought by every person who sinned, had they done so without the official sanction of the court.
The Mishnayot and Gemara in Massekhet Horayot discuss this sacrifice, and a variety of opinions are offered there on how the community is defined. According to some opinions this rule applies not only when the bet din ha-gadol – the Great Sanhedrin – rules incorrectly, but also when the bet din of a given shevet rules and the majority of that tribe inadvertently sins based on that ruling. An open question remains regarding the status of kohanim and levi’im – are they considered to be independent communities, given that each of them had their own judicial system, or have they lost their status as communities since neither of them are a full shevet? Furthermore they do not have a specific share in the Land of Israel.