On the final day of the metzora's purification he must bring a chatat, olah and asham. The chatat and olah vary with one's financial standing and a wealth person cannot bring the korbanot of a poor person. The Mishnah (14:11) discusses the case where the metzora's finances change after some of the korbanot were offered, addressing after which korban it no longer matter. R' Shimon maintains that the critical korban is the chatat, while R' Yehuda argues it is the asham.
The Bartenura explains that since the chatat and olah are different, for R' Shimon, once the chatat of a particular type is offered it determines the type of the olah, and financial changes are no longer important. The Bartenura continues that asham however is offered first. According to R' Yehuda, since the asham is most associated with the purification, the metzorah's status when that korban is offered is what determines the other korbanot.
The Mishnah Achrona stresses that all the korbanot achieve both the atonement and purification of the metzorah. The difference between the chatat and asham as explained by the Bartenura is regarding their prime purpose.
The Mishnah Achrona however cites the Rambam (Nezirut 10:8) who rules that the absence of the asham does not prevent (meakev) the metzorah from becoming tahor. The Mishnah Achrona finds this position difficult considering several mishnahyot. Firstly, we have learnt (14:9) that if the metzorah was missing a right thumb, big toe or ear, then, according to the Chachamim, he can never become tahor. It was on these locations that some of the blood from the asham was placed. Secondly, the last Mishnah (14:13) discusses that case of two metzorahs whose korbanot were mixed up, one set of korbanot was offered and then one of the metzorahs died. The Mishnah provides a solution, of which we will learn next week. Yet the Gemara (Nida 70a-b) cites Shmuel who explains that the solution only works if the asham had been offered. The Gemara concludes that the reason for this requirement is because he partially agrees with R' Shimon. He agrees with R' Shimon that the chatat determines the korban. R' Shimon however also maintains that a korban asham can be brought in a case of doubt and stipulate that if it is not required then it should be considered as an asham. About that point Shmuel takes the position of the Chachamim. Consequently, it is critical that the asham was already offered prior to the doubt arising. The Mishnah Achrona understands that the Gemara implies that according to the Chachamim, if the asham cannot be offered, the surviving metzorah cannot become tahor.
The Chazon Ish (Nashim 145, s.v. "omnam nireh") explains that the Rambam is specifically referring to cases of doubt. He explains that just like a safek mamzer is permitted on a biblical level, so too is a safek mechusar kipurim allowed to consume korbanot. A mechusar kipurim refers to an individual that has completed their taharah process and is tahor, bur requires their korbanot be offered in order to be allowed to eat other korbanot. Consequently, in cases of doubt where there is no solution, the Chachamim ruled leniently. It follows that where there is a safek mechusar kipurim and the asham cannot be offered, it does not prevent the individual for partaking in korbanot in the future. Consequently, the case of the metzorah with a missing finger is not a difficulty since that case is a certain metzorah. Furthermore, the Chazon Ish cites the Gemara (Nazar 55b) that deals with the case of a safek nazir, safek metzora. The Tosfot there explains that while according to R' Shimon the asham would be brought, the Chachamim maintain it is not and need not be brought. The Chazon Ish adds however, that leniency may only be offered in the case of nazir, since there it was never confirmed that he was tameh -- there is a chazkat tahara. It is important to note that the Rambam's comment that the asham is not meakev was regarding this case.
The Chazon Yechezkel (Nazir 6:1), when commenting on the Tosefta that discusses the safek nazir, safek metzora, understands that the asham is not meakev -- it seems in all cases. How then does he explain that case of the metzora missing his thumb? The Chazon Yechezkel notes that it was not only the blood from the asham that was place there, but also the oil (as we have learnt). It is the placement of the oil that is meakev not the asham.
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