Bringing an Asham Together

Keritut (5:4) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

The Mishnah (5:4) discusses a case where a piece of kodesh and chulin were resting on the table and a person ate one of these, but is unsure which of the two. Since one of the two is kodesh, there is a doubt whether the prohibition of meilah has been violated. If one does violate the prohibition of meilah inadvertently (be'shogeg), then they are required to bring a korban ashem and pay the value of what they benefited plus chomesh (an additional 25%) to hekdesh. Whether in a case of doubt an asham talui must be brought is the subject of debate. R' Akiva maintains the korban is brought, whereas the Chachamim argue that the asham talui is only brought in a case of doubt where if clarified, one would be required to bring a chatat.

The Mishnah continues by recording a further debate where one person ate one of the two pieces and another the other. R' Akiva maintains that since that the doubt applies to each of them, both must bring an asham talui. R' Shimon however argues that they can simply bring the definite asham and stipulate that it is being offered from the individual that truly requires it. R' Yossi however argues that two people cannot bring a korban asham together. We shall try to understand the position of R' Yossi.

The Bartenura explains that R' Yossi maintains that two people cannot bring the korban together since such a condition does not work for korbanot. The Tosfot Yom Tov clarifies that R' Yossi maintains that conditions do not work specifically for korbanot that are brought for a sin. What then should these two people do? The Bartenura continues, according to R' Akiva both would be required to bring an asham talui each, whereas the Chachamim argue that no korban would be brought. Interestingly, the Bartenura does not explain who R' Yossi agrees with.

The Rambam however explains that R' Yossi is the first opinion in our Mishnah. In other words, each would not be obligated to bring an asham talui.

The Ramban (Shabbat 71b) however explains that for one to bring a korban asham, R' Yossi requires yedi'ah (knowledge) from the outset. As explained, the asham me'ilot is brought in a case where the prohibition of meilah was violated be'shogeg, e.g. the person was unaware that the piece of meat was kodesh when he consumed it. R' Yossi however requires that the person initially knew that that piece was kodesh. In our cases there was no yedi'ah at the beginning. Consequently, even if it was later discovered which of the two pieces was indeed kodesh, the one that violated the prohibition would not be required to bring the korban me'ilot. It is for this reason that R' Yossi argues that they two individuals could not bring the korban meilah together.

The Gra (Hahot HaGra Shabbat 71b) brings a proof in support of the Ramban. Recall that two issues ago we discussed R' Yossi's opinion regarding the case of two women that miscarry, with only one requiring a korban, yet we are unsure which of the two that is. In that Mishnah (1:4) R' Yossi maintained that the two women could bring a single pair of birds and stipulate that they should be offered for she that required them. Note that in that case, R' Yossi maintains that the condition does work. The Gemara (Keritut 7b) questions the different positions and explains that for a mechusar kapara (korbanot brought at the end of the purification process thereby enabling one to partake in korbanot) R' Yossi agrees that such a condition would work. The Gemara probes why and answers that for a chatat (and therefore also an asham) one requires yedi'ah from the outset. This fits perfectly with the explanation of the Ramban.

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