What happens to an animal that was set aside as a sacrifice and whose owner then dies?
The Mishnah on today’s daf (=page) teaches that when the owner of a sin-offering dies, his son cannot bring it instead of his dead father.
In his Commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam points out that it is obvious that the son will not bring the sin-offering on behalf of his father, since the Gemara has already taught (above, daf 21b) that a sin-offering whose owner passes away is left to die and is not sacrificed. Rather the Mishnah is teaching that the son who inherits his father’s estate cannot make use of the sin-offering as his own sacrifice in the event that he is obligated to bring one. Tosafot Rabbenu Peretz explains that we need to be taught this law, since the inheriting son is considered the continuation of his father and we may have thought that he could stand in his stead regarding this sacrifice.
Although the Mishnah only discusses the status of a sin-offering, a similar rule applies to an asham – a guilt-offering – as well. If the owner of the sacrifice passes away the animal cannot be sacrificed. It will be left to pasture until it develops a blemish that precludes it from being sacrificed, at which time it is redeemed and another sacrifice will be purchased in its stead. These examples stand in contrast with other sacrifices, like an olah (a burnt offering) or a shelamim (a peace-offering) that must be sacrificed by the children of the deceased, even though they will not “be credited” to him after death. The Gemara in Massekhet Zevahim (daf 5b) discusses whether or not that sacrifice is ultimately viewed as belonging to the child who is the one who brings the sacrifice.