Keritot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah. Later sages continue to argue what Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua were arguing about.

 

Mishnah Three

1)      Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Shimon Shezuri say: They did not dispute regarding transgression of the same name, that in that case he is liable.

2)      About what did they dispute? About transgressions of different names:

a)      Rabbi Eliezer declares him liable to a hatat,

b)      And Rabbi Joshua declares him exempt.

3)      Rabbi Judah said: even if he intended to pick figs and he picked grapes, or grapes and he picked figs, white [grapes] and he picked black ones, or black and he picked white ones

a)      Rabbi Eliezer declares him liable to a hatat.

b)      And Rabbi Joshua declares him exempt.

4)      Rabbi Judah said: I wonder whether Rabbi Joshua indeed declared him exempt in such a case. For then why is it written, “with which he has sinned” (Leviticus 4:23)? To exclude mindless action.

 

Explanation

Section one:  According to these rabbis, Rabbi Joshua agrees that if he is not certain what labor he did, but he knows that it was one of two possibilities that are both “of the same name,” meaning of the same category, that he is liable. For example, if he picked some sort of fruit, but he is not sure what type of fruit he picked—grapes or figs. In this case, he definitely violated the transgression of “reaping” and therefore, Rabbi Joshua agrees that he is liable.

Section two: They disagree about a case where he transgressed one of two possible categories of transgression, for instance he ate something forbidden but he is not sure whether it was helev or notar.

Section three: Rabbi Judah is directly opposed to Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Shimon Shezuri. Whereas the latter say that Rabbi Joshua exempts only if he is not sure what category of labor he performed, Rabbi Joshua exempts him even if he doesn’t know what color the grapes were, and even if he didn’t fulfill his intention as to what color grapes or figs he wanted to pick.

Section four: Rabbi Judah then acts surprised that Rabbi Joshua would exempt him from such a case. He therefore adjusts the exact case in which Rabbi Joshua exempts.  Rabbi Joshua exempts a person who didn’t intend to do a labor at all. For instance, he intended to pick up a piece of unattached grass from the ground and he accidentally plucked a piece of attached grass. This is called “mindless” action and the doer is therefore exempt. However, if he intends to perform a labor and he does perform that labor, he is liable, even if he does not do exactly what he intended to do.

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