If you might have inadvertently done something wrong but are not sure, is there value in finding out for sure, or is it water under the bridge?

For example, say you're throwing out a suit and realize you never had it checked for shatnez. Is there any point in checking now?

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    It appears to me that yes, one should determine whether one should be apologising and doing teshuva. If one has been doing something his wife really dislikes without noticing, but she was too polite to say anything, one would certainly wish to be told, so he can stop and profusely apologise. How much more so with Hashem
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 15:00
  • R' Yona (B'rachos 1b b'dapei haRif, s.v. והא): " וזהו עיקר היראה ליזהר מהספקות ושלא לעשות המצות ע"ד ההרגל שעונש הספק יותר מהודאי וכן מצינו שעל הודאי מביא חטאת... דנקא די לו בזה ודנקא היא מעה והוא שתות הדינר... ואם מביא אשם על הספק... צריך להביא ב' סלעים שהם מ"ח מעין... והטעם בזה למה החמירו על הספק יותר מן הודאי אומר מורי הרב שהוא מפני שעל הודאי משים האדם החטא אל לבו ודואג ומתחרט עליו וחוזר בתשובה שלימה אבל על הספק עושה סברות ואומר אותה חתיכה שאכלתי אולי היתה מותרת ולא ישית אל לבו לשוב ולזה החמירו בו יותר". See Rama OC 603.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 17:51
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    However, note that, according to the N'sivos HaMishpat (234:3), no repentance is required for inadvertent violations of rabbinic prohibitions (see also here). The obligation itself to check for sha'atnez is not completely clear, and the sha'atnez that is sometimes found is rabbinic according to some rishonim (see here and here).
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 17:59
  • @Fred I was thinking of that, but I don't know if that translates to an obligation/recommendation to remove doubt after the fact. On the second point, shatnez was just a random example, but good to know.
    – shmosel
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Gemoro Shabbos 12b:

Rabbi Yishmoel ben Elisha inclined the lamp on Shabbos against the halocho and wrote in his record book that when the Temple would be rebuilt, he would bring a fat korban chatos to atone for the sin.

From this we see that it is important to atone for a sin done in the past even at some distance in time.

Gemoro Shabbos 68b

A child who was brought up by non-Jews and never knew anything of Judaism, when he later comes into the community and learns, will have to bring one korban chatos for all the infringements of the Shabbos laws that he committed until that point.

Again we see that it is important to atone for a sin done in the past when one gets to know about it - even at some distance in time.

Therefore, I deduce that it is important to determine if one has sinned in the past in order to get atonement for it.

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