ולא ידע ואשם, והביא. הָעִנְיָן הַזֶּה מְדַבֵּר בְּמִי שֶׁבָּא סְפֵק כָּרֵת לְיָדוֹ וְלֹא יָדַע אִם עָבַר עָלָיו אִם לָאו, כְּגוֹן חֵלֶב וְשֻׁמָּן לְפָנָיו, וּכְסָבוּר שְׁתֵּיהֶן הֶתֵּר וְאָכַל אֶת הָאֶחָד, אָמְרוּ לוֹ אַחַת שֶׁל חֵלֶב הָיְתָה, וְלֹא יָדַע אִם זוֹ שֶׁל חֵלֶב אָכַל, הֲרֵי זֶה מֵבִיא אָשָׁם תָּלוּי, וּמֵגֵן עָלָיו כָּל זְמַן שֶׁלֹּא נוֹדַע לוֹ שֶׁוַּדַּאי חָטָא, וְאִם נוֹדַע לוֹ לְאַחַר זְמַן, יָבִיא חַטָּאת (כריתות כ"ב): ולא ידע ואשם … והביא [AND IF A SOUL SIN, AND DO ANY OF THESE THINGS WHICH SHOULD NOT BE DONE …] AND HE DOES NOT DISCOVER THAT HE IS GUILTY … HE SHALL BRING [A RAM … FOR A GUILT OFFERING] — This paragraph (vv. 17—19) is speaking of a person to whom there has occurred a כרת ספק (i. e. it is speaking of a person who is doubtful whether he has inadvertently committed an act of such a character as to be punishable with כרת if done willfully), and he does not know whether he has actually committed a sinful act or not. For instance: חלב (fat forbidden to be eaten under the penalty of כרת) and permitted fat (שומן) lay before him, and he believed that both were permissible food (i. e. that both were שומן), and he ate one of them. Afterwards, however, people told him that one of these was חלב, but he does not know whether he had eaten that which was חלב. Then such a one has to bring an אשם תלוי (the guilt-offering for a doubtful sin, lit., the guilt-offering in suspense, from תלה to “be in suspense”); and this protects him against punishment so long as he does not become cognisant that he has undoubtedly sinned, and if he becomes cognisant of this after a time he has to bring a sin-offering (cf. Keritot 22b, 23a).
ולא ידע ואשם ונשא עונו. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי אוֹמֵר, הֲרֵי הַכָּתוּב עָנַשׁ אֶת מִי שֶׁלֹּא יָדַע, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה שֶׁיַּעֲנִישׁ אֶת מִי שֶׁיָּדַע, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, אִם נַפְשְׁךָ לֵידַע מַתַּן שְֹכָרָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים, צֵא וּלְמַד מֵאָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁלֹּא נִצְטַוָּה אֶלָּא עַל מִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה וְעָבַר עָלֶיהָ, רְאֵה כַּמָּה מִיתוֹת נִקְנְסוּ עָלָיו וּלְדוֹרוֹתָיו. וְכִי אֵיזוֹ מִדָּה מְרֻבָּה שֶׁל טוֹבָה אוֹ שֶׁל פֻּרְעָנוּת? הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר מִדָּה טוֹבָה, אִם מִדַּת פֻּרְעָנוּת מְעוּטָה, רְאֵה כַּמָּה מִיתוֹת נִקְנְסוּ לוֹ וּלְדוֹרוֹתָיו, מִדָּה טוֹבָה הַמְרֻבָּה הַיּוֹשֵׁב לוֹ מִן הַפִּגּוּלִין וְהַנּוֹתָרוֹת וְהַמִּתְעַנֶּה בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים — עַאַכַּ"וְ שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה לוֹ וּלְדוֹרוֹתָיו וּלְדוֹרוֹת דּוֹרוֹתָיו עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת; רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה וְגוֹ' (דברים י"ז), אִם מִתְקַיֶּמֶת הָעֵדוּת בִּשְׁנַיִם, לָמָּה פֵּרֵט לְךָ הַכָּתוּב ג'? אֶלָּא לְהָבִיא שְׁלִישִׁי לְהַחֲמִיר עָלָיו וְלַעֲשׂוֹת דִּינוֹ כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּאֵלּוּ לְעִנְיַן עֹנֶשׁ בַּהֲזָמָה; אִם כָּךְ עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב לַנִּטְפָּל לְעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה כְּעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה שֶׁיְּשַׁלֵּם שָֹכָר טוֹב לַנִּטְפָּל לְעוֹשֵׂי מִצְוָה כְּעוֹשֵׂי מִצְוָה (סנהדרין ט'); רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר, כִּי תִקְצֹר קְצִירְךָ בְשָׂדֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ עֹמֶר בַּשָּׂדֶה הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר לְמַעַן יְבָרֶכְךָ וְגוֹ' (דברים כ"ד) — קָבַע הַכָּתוּב בְּרָכָה לְמִי שֶׁבָּאת עַל יָדוֹ מִצְוָה בְּלֹא יָדַע — אֱמֹר מֵעַתָּה, הָיְתָה סֶלַע צְרוּרָה בִּכְנָפָיו וְנָפְלָה הֵימֶנּוּ וּמְצָאָהּ הֶעָנִי וְנִתְפַּרְנֵס בָּהּ, הֲרֵי הַקָּבָּ"ה קוֹבֵעַ לוֹ בְּרָכָה (ספרא): ו אשם ונשא עונוולא ידע AND HE DOES NOT DISCOVER THAT HE IS GUILTY, AND BEARETH HIS INIQUITY — R. José the Galilean said, “See, Scripture (God) punishes him who has no sure knowledge that he has sinned (in as much as it requires him to bring a guilt-offering); how much the more does it follow that He will punish him who does know that he is sinning and yet wilfully does it. — R. José said, “If you wish to know the reward prepared for the righteous, go and learn from the case of Adam Horishon, who was charged only with a negative command (not to eat from the עץ הדעת) and who transgressed it, — see how many kinds of death-penalties were on this account decreed as a punishment against himself and all his descendants! Now, which measure is greater, — that of good (of reward), or that of punishment? You must admit that it is that of reward (cf. Rashi on Exodus 20:6). If, then, the measure of punishment is the lesser, consider that if so many kinds of death-penalties were decreed as a punishment against himself and his descendants, surely, in the case of the measure of good which is the greater one, if a person refrains from eating sacrifices which have become abominable (פגול) or which have been left over beyond the prescribed time (נותר), or if he fasts on Yom Kippur, how much the more certain is it that he will acquire merit for himself and for his descendants and the descendants of his descendants until the end of all generations! — R. Akiba said, “See, it states, (Deuteronomy 19:15) “at the mouth of two witnesses, or, at the mouth of three witnesses [shall the matter be established]. — But if evidence can be established by two witnesses, why does Scripture afterwards specifically state that this may be done by three? But it is to bring the third witness under the law there stated — to be severe with him and to make his sentence exactly like that of these (the first two witnesses) in respect to punishment in case of “plotting” (evidence that is rebutted by proof that the witness was not present on the occasion to which he has testified; see Rashi on Deuteronomy 19:16). Now, if Scripture exacts punishment so severely from one who has only joined himself with sinners (he is so described because as a single witness he could not hope that his evidence would be effective), just as it does from the sinners themselves, how much the more certain is it that He will give a reward to him who attaches himself to those who practise meritorious deeds just as it does to those who themselves practise meritorious deeds! (Sanhedrin 9a; Makkot 5b). — R. Eleazar b. Azariah said: In Deuteronomy (24:19) Scripture states, “When thou reapest thy harvest in thy field, and hast forgotten a sheaf in the field, [thou shalt not return to take it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless etc.]”, and, you see, it states immediately afterwards: “that the Lord thy God may bless thee etc.” Scripture (God) thus gives the assurance of a blessing to one through whom a meritorious deed came about (the feeding of the stranger, etc.), without himself knowing about it (since he forgot to remove the sheaf from the field)! You must now admit that if a Sela was tied up in the skirt of one’s garment and it fell from it and a poor man finds it and supports himself by it the Holy One, blessed be He gives the assurance of a blessing to him (to the man who has lost the Sela) (Sifra, Vayikra Dibbura d'Chovah, Section 12 7-13).