We learned on yesterday’s daf that when an animal for sacrifice cannot be brought for its original specific purpose, we try to offer it instead as a similar voluntary korban. Some sacrificial animals that are set aside in response to a very specific incident – for example, a korban hatat – cannot be switched to a general purpose, and as such are left to die.
Our Gemara contrasts the case of a korban hatat with that of an asham (guilt-offering), which is also brought to atone for certain specific transgressions. The similarity notwithstanding, the ruling is that in a case where the animal designated for hatat is left to die, the asham is ro’eh – it is allowed to graze normally until it receives a mum (a blemish) that makes it unfit to be brought as a sacrifice, at which time it can be sold and a voluntary sacrifice can be bought with the proceeds.
The Gemara points out that there is a process involved in declaring the unusable asham an animal that should be ro’eh, after which the status of the animal changes. Rav is quoted by Rav Huna as teaching that once the animal has been assigned to be ro’eh, it is a kosher korban if it is slaughtered with the intention of being sacrificed as an olah (burnt-offering). From this the Gemara concludes that if the animal had not yet been assigned to be ro’eh, the animal could not be brought as a korban olah, and if it is sacrificed with that in mind, it is pasul (rendered unfit).
The Meiri quotes two opinions about when the asham becomes an animal that is ro’eh – either when the treasurer of the Temple declares it to be so, or else when it is turned over to the shepherd who is told of the animal’s special status, and the need to keep track of when the animal developed a mum. Once the animal has been assigned to be ro’eh, it is no longer an asham, and if it is brought as a voluntary olah sacrifice, it will be kosher. The problem with sacrificing the animal prior to its change of status is simply that an asham cannot be brought as an olah.