Saturday, 7 April 2018

Horayot 7: The Kohen Gadol and the Public; Intentionality, Transgressions and Offerings

After considering communal sins, the rabbis turn to the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest.  A Kohen Gadol who has been anointed is different from another Kohen Gadol who simply wears the clothing of a Kohen Gadol.  The former has great power; he must bring a bull as his sin offering.  For an individual's transgression, regardless of intentionality, one brings a sin offering.

The Gemara considers three categories of transgressors.  The first is the Kohen Gadol.  The next is the public, or the community.  The third is the individual.   The Gemara discusses the different transgressions that might be committed in each of these parties.  There are similarities and differences among all three possible transgressors.  The rabbis consider intentionality, type of offering, etc.  It is noted that the public is liable if the beit din ruled inadvertently and then the public sinned accidentally.  Similarly, the Kohen Gadol is liable if he himself ruled inadvertently and then sinned accidentally. The rabbis suggest a number of arguments that support the similarity between cases involving the public and cases involving the Kohen Gadol.

The rabbis consider a ruling that is not actually wrong.  A discussion ensues regarding transgressions that might not be as serious as other transgressions based on numerous factors.  It is understood that punishments should differ based on the seriousness of the transgression.  We can now see that the rabbis place significant consideration on context.  Judaism tends to put greater importance on what we do rather than on what we think.  When the rabbis spend this much time deliberating over which punishments are reasonable for accidental, unintentional, or mistaken transgressions, we know that they also valued the importance of our thoughts and feelings - from individuals and communities to High Priests.

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