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Aside from the passages that we have been discussing in Masechet Horayot that appear in Sefer Vayikra (chapter 4) that teach the laws of sacrifices for a High Priest, the High Court or the king whose error in judgment leads to accidental transgressions, there is another set of passages in Sefer Bamidbar (15:27-29) that also teach of a unique sacrifice that is brought in such a case. The Gemara on today’s daf (=page) explains that the passages in Sefer refer to a specific case – when avodah zarah, idol worship, was performed because of an error in judgment.
How is it evident from these passages that they refer to avodah zarah, which is not mentioned explicitly there?
A number of explanations are suggested by the Gemara.
In the bet midrash of Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nassi it was taught that we derive this because of the references to these mitzvotas being spoken to Moshe by God, and also commanded by God to the Jewish People by means of Moshe. Which mitzvah is unique in that it was spoken by God and commanded to the Jewish People by Moshe? The suggestion is that this refers to the first two of the Ten Commandments, which are spoken in the first person. These two commandments teach the laws of avodah zarah.
Rava teaches that when the Torah says that it is referring to someone who errs and transgresses et kol ha-mitzvot ha-eleh – all of the mitzvot – we must search for a mitzvah that is representative of all the mitzvot. He argues that avodah zarah is the mitzvah that is representative of all the mitzvot.
Although we find other examples of Rabbinic teachings that suggest that a given mitzvah is equivalent to the entire spectrum of mitzvot, nevertheless the commandments regarding belief in God are viewed as truly basic to all of the mitzvot.
Rashi explains Rava’s teaching as being based on the Rabbinic teaching that anyone who accepts avodah zarah, by definition rejects the entire Torah. The Me’iri suggests that once someone accepts a foreign god, it is clear that the mitzvothave no importance of meaning to him, so it is as if he rejects them all.