Keritot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four



This mishnah is a direct continuation of yesterday’s mishnah: the five who bring one sacrifice for many instances of obligation. Today’s mishnah discusses the final such case and then moves on to explain the second topic in mishnah three—the five who bring a higher or lower sacrifice.  


Mishnah Four

1)      A woman who has had several births.

2)      If she miscarried a female within eighty days of the birth of a girl, and then she again miscarried a female within eighty days of the previous [miscarriage]; or if she miscarried twins.   

a)      Rabbi Judah says: she brings an offering for the first and not for the second, for the third again but not for the fourth. 

3)      The following persons bring an offering of higher or lesser value:  

a)      One who hears the voice (see Leviticus 5:1);  

b)      One who has broken the word of his lips (Leviticus 5:4);

c)      One who while unclean has entered the sanctuary or [has partaken] of holy things,  

d)      A woman after childbirth  

e)      And a metzora.

4)      What is the difference between [intercourse] with a female slave and the other forbidden sexual relations?  For they are not equivalent in regard to the punishment nor the sacrifice.

a)      In the case of all other forbidden sexual relations a hatat is brought, in that of a female slave an asham;

b)      In the case of the other forbidden sexual relations a female animal is brought, in that of the female slave a male;

c)      In the case of the other forbidden sexual relations man and woman are alike with respect to lashes and the sacrifice; in that of the female slave the man is unlike the woman regarding the lashes, and the woman is unlike the man regarding the sacrifice.

d)      In the case of all other forbidden sexual relations sexual contact is punishable as well as consummation, and one is liable for each act of intercourse separately.

i)        For in this the case of the female slave is more stringent in that intentional transgression is of the same status as unwitting transgression.



Section one: The last category of person who might bring one sacrifice for multiple cases is the woman who gave birth—if she did not bring a sacrifice for one birth, she can bring one sacrifice for multiple births.

Section two: The mishnah now explains other types of cases where a woman might bring one sacrifice for multiple births or miscarriages. Generally, she brings her sacrifices 80 days after the birth of a female. If she miscarries within this period, she need not bring a sacrifice for both the birth and the miscarriage. If the miscarriage is female, and then she miscarries again within 80 days, she still brings only one sacrifice. Similarly, if she miscarries twins, she brings only one sacrifice for both.

Rabbi Judah disagrees with the previous opinion. According to Rabbi Judah she brings a sacrifice for the first birth. For the miscarriage that occured within 80 days of the first, she does not bring, because it was within the time covered by the first. However, she does bring for the third (the second miscarriage) because it was not within the time of the first. The second (the first miscarriage) does not cover the third, because she didn’t bring a sacrifice for the second. Then she doesn’t bring for the fourth (the third miscarriage) because it was during the time of the third. In this way she ends up bringing for every other miscarriage.

Section three: This is the list of the five categories of people who can bring either a more or less expensive sacrifice, depending upon their wealth.

A) This refers to the person who swore falsely that he didn’t know testimony. The language of the mishnah is based on Leviticus 5:1. Lev 5:5-11 discuss the various sacrifices that can be brought.

B) This refers to one who made a false oath. See Leviticus 5:4. 

C) One who enters the Temple while impure or eats holy things while impure must bring a higher or lower sacrifice. This is also mentioned in Leviticus 5. In all three of these cases, the person who is really poor can bring just a grain offering.

D) See Leviticus 12:6-8.

E) See Leviticus 13.

Section four: Leviticus 19:20-21 states, “If a man has carnal relations, having an emission, with a woman who is a slave and has been designated for another man, but has not been redeemed or given her freedom, there shall be an indemnity; they shall not, however, be put to death, since she has not been freed. But he must bring to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as his guilt offering (asham) to the Lord, a ram of guilt offering.”

Our mishnah explains what the difference is between a man who has intercourse with a slave woman such as is described here and a man who has intercourse with any other forbidden sexual relation. In the two cases, a different punishment is meted out if done intentionally, and if done unwittingly, a different sacrifice is brought. The punishment for all other sexual sins is either death or karet, whereas in this case the punishment is lashes. The mishnah now explains the differences with regard to the sacrifice.

A + B)  For other forbidden relations one must bring a female hatat, whereas here one brings a male asham. (Note that a hatat is always female and an asham is always male. Thus it turns out that this is only one difference between the two sins.)

C) For all other sexual sins, both the man and woman are equal in matters of lashes (if done intentionally but without prior warning) and in bringing a sacrifice, if done intentionally. But in this case, the female slave is the one lashed (this is how the rabbis understand the word that is translated “indemnity”) and the man brings the sacrifice (whether done intentionally or intentionally—see mishnah two).

D) In all other cases the man is liable as soon as sexual contact begins, but with a slave woman, he is liable only when he emits seed, as is stated in the verse itself.

E) In all other cases, if a man sleeps multiple times with a woman forbidden to him, he is liable only once, whereas here with the female slave, he is liable for each act of intercourse. The mishnah notes that this is a balancing stringency. Since there is a leniency when it comes to having intercourse with the female slave—he brings a sacrifice even if done intentionally—there is also an accompanying stringency—he must bring a sacrifice for each act.