Vayikra – Chamishi

The Big “Oops”

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

There are certain sins for which the penalty is spiritual excision (“kareis”) if committed intentionally. If a person committed one of these acts inadvertently, he would bring a sin offering or “korban chatas.”

If the High Priest committed such an act, he would have to bring a defect-free young bull as a sacrifice. He would lay his hands upon the animal’s head and slaughter it, then sprinkle its blood in the direction of the partition. He would put some blood on the golden incense altar, then pour the rest out at the base of the copper altar. He would remove and burn the same innards and fats as from a korban shlamim (as in the previous aliyah). The rest of the bull would be taken outside the camp and burned in the place where the ashes were disposed.

If the people as a whole committed the requisite kind of an act, having been misled by a bad ruling on the part of the courts, they would also offer a young bull. In this case, the leaders of the people would lay their hands on the animal before it was sacrificed. The procedure is otherwise the same as the korban chatas for the Kohein Gadol.

If the king committed such a sin, he would also bring a korban chatas, except his would be a defect-free male goat. He would place his hands on the goats head and have it slaughtered. The kohein would place blood on the “horns” of the altar, then spill the rest out at the altar’s base. The fat would be burned in the same way as it was done for peace offerings.

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