Keritot 18a-b - Responding to concerns about sin

April 06, 2012


As we learned on yesterday's daf (=page) there is a disagreement regarding the question about when an asham taluy - a conditional guilt-offering - is brought. The Sages rule that this sacrifice is only brought when a person ate hatikhah ahat mi-shtei hatikhot - "a single piece out of two," where one was permitted and one was forbidden. If, however, there is doubt as to whether the piece was forbidden at all - it was a case of hatikhah ahat, "a single piece" - then an asham taluy would not be brought. Rabbi Eliezer disagrees with this analysis and rules that someone who ate a single piece whose status was questionable is obligated to bring an asham taluy.
An example of this disagreement is presented by the Gemara:
Said Rabbah bar Avuha in the name of Rav: The case where one ate a piece of fat about which there was a doubt whether it was helev (forbidden fat) or permitted fat forms the subject of a dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages.But why present the case that he ate it? Even if he did not eat it he may offer such a guilt-offering according to Rabbi Eliezer, as we have learnt:Rabbi Eliezer says, A man may freely offer a conditional guilt-offering every day!?
Said Rav Ashi: Rabbi Eliezer follows here the view of Baba ben Buta,of whom we have learnt:But they said unto him, Wait until you come into a state of doubt.
Rashi explains that the Gemara is referring to the Mishnah later on in Massekhet Keritot (daf 25a). In that Mishnah there are three approaches to the law of asham taluy.
1. According to Rabbi Eliezer, an asham taluy can be donated at any time, even if there is no reason to think that the person sinned.
2. Baba ben Buta suggests that an asham taluy cannot be donated unless there is a possibility that the person sinned.
3. The Sages rule that an asham taluy is brought only in the event that the person believes that he may have transgressed a sin for which he would be liable to receive the punishment of karet.
This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger. To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.
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