Monday, March 26, 2012

Larry explains the categories of sin

This is copied from a text that was linked in a comment to my Bewildered by some brachot (blessings). I’m saving this as a separate post for my own benefit and that of my readers, since it’s not possible to search the comments on this blog. Thanks, Larry!

Larry Lennhoff
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Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish.moderated
From: (Larry Lennhoff)
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 14:04:54 +0000 (UTC)
Local: Thurs, Sep 26 2002 10:04 am
Subject: Re: State of Mind Relevance

Steve G . . . .
A key piece of the puzzle that I don't fully > understand yet is the issue of intent when committing > an act, and how that is treated in halacha.

Some background. There are four different Hebrew words for sin:
1) pesha - This is an intentional sin, in absolute defiance of God.
2) ovon - This is a knowing sin, but a sin of lust or uncontrollable emotion, not to defy God.
3) cheit - This is an unintentional sin, but a sin nonetheless.
4) aveira - This is a catch all word, which covers all of the above categories
> Imagine I'm sitting down to eat a bowl of soup.
> (1) If I have the intention of eating kosher, and I > have a reasonable belief that the soup is kosher, but > it turns out that someone slipped something treif into > the pot without my knowledge, have I committed a sin?
As I understand it, you have committed a cheit, an unintentional sin. Should you ever find out, when the beit hamkidash has been restablished (bimhayra v'yamenu) you will have to bring a cheit offering. The fact that the sin is unintentional makes a difference in its 'weight'. This sort of thing is mentioned in Psalms, when David says "Who can escape mistakes? From unintended faults forgive me.."
> (2) If I have the intention of eating trayf, and I > have a reasonable belief that the soup is trayf, but > unbeknownst to me someone has secretly replaced my > bowl with kosher soup, have I committed a sin?
I'm less sure about this. Personally, I would say you have committed a pesha in seeking to violate the halacha, but not the aveira of eating treif.
I'm not very learned on these matters and will cheerfully acceptany corrections.
Kol Tuv


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