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Parsha Mitzvot: Vayikra: Mitzvah 119 – Concept 431

“And if any individual person of the people of the land sins in carelessness, inasmuch as he does one of the things of which God has commanded that they shall not be done and so he is guilty. Or if his sin wherein he has sinned is brought to his knowledge, than he shall bring as his offering a she-goat, complete without blemish, a female, for his sin which he has committed. (Leviticus 4:27-28) Every person must bring a sin offering for his transgressions. (Rambam, Hilchot Shegagot – The Laws of Offerings For Unintentional Sins)


It is characteristic to the highest degree that regarding the responsibility for carrying out the Torah, the king stands on exactly the same footing before God as the humblest of his subjects. The only difference between them is the animal which is to represent the person bringing the offering. The king brings a he-goat  to represent the position he occupies in the nation. The ordinary person brings a female as an expression of the subordinate nature of their civic position in relation to the masculine dominant representation of the king. But the choice is left between a she-goat or lamb according to whether the bringer feels that he wishes to express the independence of his position in social life, or whether he feels he wishes to express himself simply and purely as a lamb, as a creature in God’s flock who requires guidance. Rabbi Samson R Hirsch

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