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Olas Shabbos B’Shabbato
‘An Offering Of Appeasement’
(Zevachim 7b)



Our sugya distinguishes between a korban olah (elevation offering) and a korban chatas (sin offering). The former is brought for intentional misdeeds, the latter for unintentional misdeeds.

Tefillin Mistakenly Not Worn

About 260 years ago, a Jew discovered that, for a long time, he had not been putting on tefillin properly. Frightened and confused, he remembered the teaching of the Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 334:26) that someone who unwittingly desecrated Shabbos “must fast Mondays and Thursdays for 40 days and must not drink wine or eat meat. And instead of a chatas, he should give 18 peshitin [five gold coins according to the Mishnah Berurah, sk 80] to charity. If he wants to ‘redeem’ the fast, he should give 12 peshitin for each day.”

The Jew wondered if for every day he did not put on tefillin, he should fast and give the above-mentioned amount to charity (according to the opinion that every day there is a new mitzvah to put on tefillin; see Bi’ur Halachah, 37). He referred his question to the Panim Meiros (authored by Rabbi Meir Eisenstat).

The Disparity Between A Chatas And An Olah

In his reply (responsa 3:9), the Panim Meiros refers to our sugya and the distinction between a chatas and an olah. Someone who unwittingly transgresses a prohibition whose punishment is kares if committed intentionally must bring a chatas. Someone who neglected a positive mitzvah or who transgressed a negative mitzvah connected to a positive one (lav hanitak la’aseh) need not bring any korban, although it is fitting that he bring an olah.

The Gemara explains that if a person transgresses a number of prohibitions, he brings a chatas for each one whereas if he ignores a number of positive mitzvos, he brings one olah for all of them. In addition, a chatas is meant to atone whereas an olah is considered a gift. Rashi (7b, s.v. “olah doron he”) explains: “Like a person who disobeyed a king and appeased him [i.e., repented]…and when he comes to greet him, he brings a gift.”

Based on all the above, it’s clear that we cannot compare a person who transgressed a prohibition to one who failed to observe a positive command. Thus, a person who does not put on tefillin properly for a long period of time need not take the severe steps (of fasting for 40 days etc.) mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch for one who breaks Shabbos.

Mussaf On Shabbos

Since an olah is a gift, as opposed to a sacrifice of atonement, we don’t say the word “lechaper” in Mussaf of Shabbos (as we do on Yom Tov when chataos were also offered – see Birkei Yosef, Orach Chayim 283, sk 1, and Eliyahu Rabah, os 3). The Tur (Orach Chayim 283) writes clearly: “in Mussaf for Shabbos there is no sacrifice to atone as they are all olos.”

Suppress Or ‘Launder’

The Chacham Tzvi (a mechutan of the Panim Meiros) cites Tosafos Chadashim (66) in the name of Yalkut Shimoni (Pinchas, remez 776) that Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai disagreed as to the meaning of the word keves (sheep). Beis Shammai said sheep sacrifices suppress or overcome (kovshim) sins and Beis Hillel said they launder (kovesim) sins. In the opinion of the Chacham Tzvi, they disagree as to whether an olah suppresses a sin and hides it, like a gift meant to cover up for the past, or if it launders a sin and cleans the stain, like a chatas.