The following rule applies with regard to every transgression for which an individual is obligated to bring a fixed sin-offering. If the High Court inadvertently erred in their ruling and ruled that a forbidden substance is permitted and as a result of their ruling, the people erred inadvertently and acted in transgression of the prohibition, while relying on the ruling of the court, and afterwards, the court discovered that they had erred, the court is obligated to bring a sin-offering for their erroneous ruling. Even if the judges themselves did not perform a deed in violation of the prohibition, they must bring this sacrifice. For we do not consider the deeds of the judges at all, what they did or did not do, only their ruling. The remainder of the people are exempt from bringing a sacrifice as individuals, even though they performed the transgression, because they relied on the court.

Which sacrifice do they bring for this erroneous ruling? If their erroneous ruling concerned the worship of false deities, they must bring a bull as a burnt-offering and a goat as a sin-offering from every tribe. This is the sacrifice referred to in Parshat Shelach Lecha, which states Numbers 15:24: "If due to the seers of the congregation, a transgression was erroneously violated...." According to the Oral Tradition, it was taught that this is referring to an erroneous ruling concerning the worship of false deities.

If they ruled erroneously with regard to other transgressions punishable by karet for which a fixed sin-offering is brought for their inadvertent violation, every tribe must bring a bull as a sin-offering. This sacrifice is mentioned in Parshat Vayikra which states Leviticus 4:3: "If the entire congregation of Israel shall inadvertently err...."

Thus we have learned that if the High Court rules erroneously with regard to the worship of false deities, the entire congregation bring twelve bulls as burnt-offerings and twelve goats as sin-offerings. They are burnt, because their blood is taken into the inner chamber. They are called the goats offered because of the worship of false deities.

If they ruled erroneously with regard to other mitzvot, they bring twelve bulls as sin-offerings and they are burnt, because their blood is taken into the inner chamber. Each one of the bulls is called a bull brought due to a lapse of awareness by the congregation, as ibid.:14 states: "And the congregation shall offer...," i.e., every congregation. Every tribe is referred to as a congregation, as II Chronicles 20:5 states: "And Yehoshefat stood in the congregation of Judah."

A bull is brought for every tribe - and for the worship of false deities, a bull and a goat are brought for every tribe whether the entire Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael transgressed because of the ruling of the court, the majority of the Jewish people transgressed even though they comprised only a lesser portion of the tribes, or the majority of the tribes transgressed, even though they comprise a lesser portion of the entire Jewish people. Even those tribes who did not transgress bring because of the transgressors. Even if only one tribe transgressed, but it constituted the majority of the congregation, the entire congregation bring twelve bulls, and for the worship of false deities, twelve bulls and twelve goats.


כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁחַיָּבִין עַל שִׁגְגָתוֹ חַטָּאת קְבוּעָה אִם שָׁגְגוּ בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל בְּהוֹרָאָה וְהוֹרוּ לְהַתִּירוֹ וְשָׁגְגוּ הָעָם בְּהוֹרָאָתָן וְעָשׂוּ הָעָם וְהֵם סוֹמְכִין עַל הוֹרָאָתָן וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹדַע לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁטָּעוּ הֲרֵי בֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין לְהָבִיא קָרְבַּן חַטָּאת עַל שִׁגְגָתָן בְּהוֹרָאָה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָשׂוּ הֵן בְּעַצְמָן מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁאֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין עַל עֲשִׂיַּת בֵּית דִּין כְּלָל בֵּין עָשׂוּ בֵּין לֹא עָשׂוּ אֶלָּא עַל הוֹרָאָתָן בִּלְבַד. וּשְׁאָר הָעָם פְּטוּרִין מִן הַקָּרְבָּן וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם הָעוֹשִׂין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁתָּלוּ בְּבֵית דִּין. וּמַה הוּא הַקָּרְבָּן שֶׁמְּבִיאִין עַל שְׁגָגָה זוֹ. אִם בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שָׁגְגוּ וְהוֹרוּ מְבִיאִין פַּר לְעוֹלָה וְשָׂעִיר לְחַטָּאת מִכָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט וְקָרְבָּן זֶה הוּא הָאָמוּר בְּפָרָשַׁת שְׁלַח לְךָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו כד) "וְהָיָה אִם מֵעֵינֵי הָעֵדָה נֶעֶשְׂתָה לִשְׁגָגָה" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁבְּשִׁגְגַת עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה הוּא מְדַבֵּר. וְאִם בִּשְׁאָר כְּרֵתוֹת שֶׁחַיָּבִין עַל שִׁגְגָתָן חַטָּאת קְבוּעָה שָׁגְגוּ וְהוֹרוּ. מֵבִיא כָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט פַּר חַטָּאת וְזֶהוּ הָאָמוּר בְּפָרָשַׁת וַיִּקְרָא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ד יג) "וְאִם כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁגּוּ". נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁאִם שָׁגְגוּ בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל בְּהוֹרָאָה בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה מְבִיאִין כָּל הַקָּהָל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר פָּרִים עוֹלוֹת וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׂעִירִים חַטָּאוֹת וְהֵם נִשְׂרָפוֹת שֶׁהֲרֵי דָּמָן נִכְנָס לְפָנִים וְהֵם הַנִּקְרָאִין שְׂעִירֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. וְאִם בִּשְׁאָר הַמִּצְוֹת שָׁגְגוּ מְבִיאִין שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר פָּרִים חַטָּאוֹת וְהֵן נִשְׂרָפוֹת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדָּמָם נִכְנַס לְפָנִים. וְכָל פַּר מֵהֶן נִקְרָא פַּר הֶעְלֵם דָּבָר שֶׁל צִבּוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ד יד) "וְהִקְרִיב הַקָּהָל" כָּל קָהָל וְקָהָל וְכָל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט קָרוּי קָהָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים ב כ ה) "וַיַּעֲמֹד יְהוֹשָׁפָט בִּקְהַל יְהוּדָה". בֵּין שֶׁעָשׂוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁהוֹרוּ בֵּין שֶׁעָשׂוּ רֹב יִשְׂרָאֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מִעוּט מִנְיַן הַשְּׁבָטִים. בֵּין שֶׁעָשׂוּ רֹב הַשְּׁבָטִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מִעוּט כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל. מְבִיאִין כְּמִנְיַן כָּל הַשְּׁבָטִים פַּר לְכָל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט וּבַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה פַּר וְשָׂעִיר לְכָל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט. שֶׁאַף אֵלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא חָטְאוּ מְבִיאִין עַל יְדֵי הַחוֹטְאִים. אֲפִלּוּ עָשָׂה שֵׁבֶט אֶחָד בִּלְבַד וְהוּא רֹב הַקָּהָל הֲרֵי כָּל הַצִּבּוּר מְבִיאִין שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר פָּרִים וּבַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר פָּרִים וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׂעִירִים:


When the court is in doubt whether or not they ruled erroneously concerning a matter, they are not required to bring a provisional guilt-offering, as implied by Leviticus 4:14: "And the sin becomes known," i.e. only when the matter becomes known to them are they liable for a sacrifice, as will be explained.

When does the concept that the court is liable for a sacrifice and those who act upon their ruling are exempt apply? When the following conditions are met:

a) when those who deliver the ruling are the High Court of 71 judges;

b) when the head of the academy, participates in the ruling with them;

c) when they are all fit to deliver rulings;

d) when all - or the majority of them - err in the ruling they delivered;

e) that they rule explicitly and tell the people: "You are permitted to do this"; similarly those who heard from the court must have told others: "You are permitted to do this"; and the majority of the people or all of them must act because of their ruling;

f) those who commit the transgression must act in error because of them, thinking that the court ruled according to law;

g) they must rule to negate part of a commandment, but to preserve part of it, but not to displace the entire commandment;

h) when they become aware of their error, they must know the precise matter concerning which they ruled erroneously.

When all of these conditions are met, the court is liable to bring a sacrifice and those who act upon their rulings are exempt. If, however, one of these conditions is not met, the court is exempt from the sacrifice and anyone who unknowingly performed a transgression must bring a fixed sin-offering for his inadvertent transgression.


בֵּית דִּין שֶׁנִּסְתַּפֵּק לָהֶן אִם שָׁגְגוּ בְּהוֹרָאָה אוֹ לֹא שָׁגְגוּ אֵינָן חַיָּבִין בְּאָשָׁם תָּלוּי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ד יד) "וְנוֹדְעָה הַחַטָּאת" עַד שֶׁתִּוָּדַע וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִתְחַיְּבוּ בְּקָרְבָּן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁבֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין וְאֵלּוּ הָעוֹשִׂים עַל פִּיהֶם פְּטוּרִין מִן הַקָּרְבָּן. כְּשֶׁהָיוּ הַמּוֹרִים בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁל שִׁבְעִים וְאֶחָד וְיִהְיֶה רֹאשׁ יְשִׁיבָה עִמָּהֶן בְּהוֹרָאָה וְיִהְיוּ כֻּלָּן רְאוּיִין לְהוֹרָאָה וְיִטְעוּ כֻּלָּן אוֹ רֻבָּן בְּדָבָר זֶה שֶׁהוֹרוּ בּוֹ וְיוֹרוּ בְּפֵרוּשׁ וְיֹאמְרוּ לָעָם מֻתָּרִין אַתֶּם לַעֲשׂוֹת. וְכֵן אֵלּוּ שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ מִפִּי בֵּית דִּין אִם אָמְרוּ לַאֲחֵרִים מֻתָּרִים אַתֶּם לַעֲשׂוֹת וְיַעֲשׂוּ כָּל הַקָּהָל אוֹ רֻבּוֹ עַל פִּיהֶם וְיִהְיוּ הָעוֹשִׂים שׁוֹגְגִים עַל פִּיהֶם וּמְדַמִּים שֶׁהַדָּבָר שֶׁהוֹרוּ בּוֹ כַּדָּת הוֹרוּ. וְיוֹרוּ לְבַטֵּל מִקְצָת וּלְקַיֵּם מִקְצָת לֹא שֶׁיַּעַקְרוּ כָּל הַגּוּף וּכְשֶׁיִּוָּדַע לָהֶם יֵדְעוּ גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר שֶׁהוֹרוּ בּוֹ בִּשְׁגָגָה. בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַמְאֹרָעִים הוּא שֶׁהָיוּ בֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין בְּקָרְבָּן וְהָעוֹשֶׂה עַל פִּיהֶם פָּטוּר. אֲבָל אִם חָסֵר אַחַת מִכָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּרָכִים הֲרֵי בֵּית דִּין פְּטוּרִין מִן הַקָּרְבָּן וְכָל מִי שֶׁשָּׁגַג וְעָשָׂה מַעֲשֶׂה מֵבִיא חַטָּאת קְבוּעָה עַל שִׁגְגָתוֹ: