QUESTION: Rebbi Akiva says that the Korban Olah atones for the failure to
observe Mitzvos Aseh as well as Mitzvos Lo Ta'aseh which are Nitak l'Aseh
(that is, transgressions which are correctable by performing an Aseh). RASHI
says that the source for this is a Tosefta which states that in lieu of any
explicit mention in the Torah of what the Olah atones for, it must be --
through the process of elimination -- that it atones for Mitzvos Aseh and
Mitzvos Lo Ta'aseh she'Nitak l'Aseh. The Olah cannot atone for
transgressions which are Chayav Kares, Misah bi'Yedei Shamayim, or Misas
Beis Din, because the punishments (i.e. atonement) for those are already
known. Likewise, it cannot atone for a regular Lo Ta'aseh, because the
atonement for that is Malkus. It must be, therefore, that it atones for
transgressions which have none of those punishments -- Mitzvos Aseh and
Mitzvos La Ta'aseh she'Nitak l'Aseh. Rashi on the Chumash (Vayikra 1:4) also
cites this Midrash (from Toras Kohanim, Dibur d'Nedavah, Perek 4:8).
The RASHASH questions this statement. How can the Tosefta derive this
through such a process of elimination? We only find that punishments such as
Misas Beis Din and Malkus are given when the transgression was done with
Hasra'ah (forewarning by witnesses). If there was no Hasra'ah, those
punishments are not administered. If so, perhaps the Korban Olah atones for
transgressions which (when done intentionally) are Chayav Misas Beis Din or
Malkus, if they was done *without* Hasra'ah!
Furthermore, perhaps it atones for any type of transgression which was done
*b'Shogeg*, which is not punishable with the usual punishment. If so, it
could atone for Chayavei Misas Beis Din or Malkus who sinned b'Shogeg, for
there is no punishment or atonement written regarding them when done
b'Shogeg (except for those which carry a Chiyuv Kares, in which case a
Chatas must be brought when done b'Shogeg)!
The Rashash's questions are raised by the Rishonim. The RASH MI'SHANZ on the
Toras Kohanim says that it is not logical that the Torah requires that a
Korban be brought as atonement for a transgression done b'Mezid without
Hasra'ah and not atone also for the same transgression when done with
Hasra'ah. We never find anything similar to this among all the other
Korbanos. Thus, the Korban Olah cannot atone for such a thing.
What about the second question? Why is it not assumed that the Olah atones
for transgressions done b'Shogeg? After all, we do find Korbanos that atone
(a) The RASH says that "it is not logical that the Olah is brought for a Lo
Ta'aseh done b'Shogeg."
It is not clear what he means. Perhaps he means what the RAMBAN (Vayikra
1:4) writes. The Ramban writes that Chazal understood from the fact that the
Torah lists punishments for Chiyuvei Kares when done either b'Mezid (in
which case one is Chayav Kares) or b'Shogeg (in which case one is Chayav to
bring a Korban Chatas), yet it does not list any punishment for a Shogeg
violation of Chiyuvei Misas Beis Din or a regular Lo Ta'aseh, that an
inadvertent transgression of a Lo Ta'aseh does not need "Ritzuy." That is,
more severe transgressions cause a person to become distanced from Hashem
even when transgressed b'Shogeg, and thus he needs an act of Ritzuy, besides
the normal repentance to acquire atonement. A Lo Ta'aseh, though, is not
considered so severe as to require Ritzuy when transgressed b'Shogeg, and
thus it does not need the Olah to atone for it. It must be that the Olah
atones for a Mitzvas Aseh that was transgressed b'Mezid, in which case one
certainly needs Ritzuy (because he sinned intentionally) even though the
Torah does not mention elsewhere what the punishment is in such a case.
(b) Following a similar approach, the RAMBAN suggests further that since the
Torah uses the phrase "v'Nirtzah Lo l'Chaper Alav" regarding the Korban
Olah, it implies that it is referring to someone who transgressed b'Mezid
and who is consequently "Eino Merutzah" to Hashem -- he is presently not in
Hashem's favor. A transgression b'Shogeg, though, does not make someone out
of favor with Hashem such that he would be called "Eino Merutzah."
(c) The MAHARAL OF PRAGUE (Gur Aryeh) suggests that the Olah cannot atone
for a Lav done b'Shogeg, because we find that a Shogeg violation of Chiyuvei
Kares requires only a Korban Chatas. A Chatas is partially eaten by the
Kohanim and is thus less severe than an Olah, which is completely burned. An
Olah, therefore, provides a greater degree of Kaparah. Why, then, would it
be used to provide Kaparah for a lesser transgression? It must be that it
atones for the intentional violation of a Mitzvas Aseh.
(d) The MAHARAL suggests further that the Midrash (Vayikra Raba 7:3) teaches
that the Olah atones for sinful thoughts ("Hirhurei ha'Lev"), as the verse
alludes to when it says, "ha'Olah Al Ruchachem" (Yechezkal 20:32), referring
to one's thoughts. If so, it must atone only for a sin done with intent
(thought), and not for a sin done b'Shogeg.