Posted on March 5, 2007 by Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

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53. Errors – Shegagos

One who in error transgresses a negative commandment that carries the punishment of “cutting off” is commanded to bring an animal sin-offering. The high priest brings a bull; the king, a he-goat; all others bring a female sheep; but for idolatry they all bring a kid [as it says “If a person sins in error…”].1,a

If a person is not certain whether or not he has transgressed such a commandment he brings a guilt-offering, as it says “[And if a person sins]… and does not know and is guilty and bears his sin, he brings an unblemished ram of the flocks as a guilt-offering”.2 A guilt-offering is also brought by one who has had sexual relations with a betrothed maidservant3 or who has committed robbery4 or who has committed sacrilege in error,5 as well as by a nazirite who became impure6 and by a purified leper.7,b

A purified leper also brings two sheep as a sin-offering and a burnt-offering; but if he cannot afford them he brings two birds.8 A woman who has given birth brings a lamb burnt-offering (as well as a bird sin-offering); but if she cannot afford it she brings a bird instead.9 A person who has violated an oath in error or who has entered the Temple or eaten sacred things in error while impure brings a sheep as a sin-offering; but if he cannot afford it he brings two birds (a sin-offering and a burnt-offering), and if he cannot afford even that he brings a flour-offering.10,c

If the Sanhedrin ruled in error regarding a commandment for which a sin-offering is required and a majority of the people followed their ruling, each tribe brings a bull sin-offering, as it says “And if all the congregation of Israel err…”.11 If the error involved idolatry each tribe also brings a he-goat sin-offering, as it says “If it was done in error by oversight of the congregation…”.12 All these offerings are burned.d


1. Lev. 4:2ff; Num. 15:27ff a. 1:1,4; see 15:1
2. Lev. 5:17-18 b. 8:1; 9:1
3. Lev. 19:20-22 c. 10:1-5; see 1:3-4
4. Lev. 5:2lff d. 12:1
5. Lev. 5:15-16
6. Num. 6:12
7. Lev. 14:12
8. Lev. 14:10,19,2lff
9. Lev. 12:6-8
10. Lev. 5:1-13
11. Lev. 4:l3ff
12. Num. 15:24ff