כ״ט באב ה׳תשע״ט (August 30, 2019)

Karetot 10a-b: Sliding Scale Sacrifices

While the requirements of most sacrifices are clearly delineated in the Torah, there are certain situations where the Torah offers a “sliding scale” and offers a choice of more and less expensive sacrifices, recommending that the wealthy person bring the more expensive one and the poor person bring a less expensive one. These sacrifices, referred to by the Mishna as korban ve-yored – a sacrifice “that goes up and down”, or a sliding-scale offering – can only be brought in five cases –

  • Shemi’at kol – cases where a person refuses to offer testimony, swearing that he does not have information that would be useful to his friend in court – see yesterday’s daf
  • Bituy sefatayim – someone who takes an oath le-hara o le-hetiv, committing to perform a positive act or to refrain from doing something (see Massekhet Shevuot, daf 19)
  • Tum’at Mikdash ve-kodashav – when someone who was in a state of ritual defilement enters the Temple or eats consecrated food (see Massekhet Shevuot daf 14)
  • Yoledet – After a woman gives birth, she is considered ritually defiled for a period of time, after which she is obligated to bring sacrifices to the Temple that would allow her to complete her ceremony of purity and once again eat sacrifices and so forth (see above, daf 8)
  • Metzora – someone suffering from biblical leprosy who recovers from his condition must bring various sacrifices in order to be permitted into the Temple and once again eat sacrifices and so forth (see Massekhet Menaḥot daf 10).

The first three of these cases all appear at the beginning of Chapter 5 in Sefer Vayikra, which teaches that in these situations the atonement involves repentance (pasuk 5), and a sin offering of a lamb (pasuk 6), two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons (pasuk 7) or fine flour (pasuk 11), depending on the financial situation of the person bringing the sacrifice. Regarding the final two cases, the laws of yoledet and of the metzora both appear in Sefer Vayikra (12:6-8 and 14:10; 21-22). In those two cases there is no option of a meal offering of fine flour for the very poor.