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What is the explanation of the talmudic dictum (Sanhedrin 62b, Kreisos 19b) that one who inadvertently sins in the areas of forbidden foods or sexual relations (e.g. reaches for kosher food, misses it and instead puts non-kosher in his mouth) must bring a korban chatas because "he received pleasure" even though other sins would be exempt from a korban in this case? What characteristic do these sins share that gives them a this unique legal status? How are these sins different from e.g. shatnez which seems to also dependent on pleasure (see Yevamos 4b)?

Some Acharonim (e.g. R. Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz Shiurim) explain that the prohibition is actually the pleasure itself, not the act, so the disconnect from the act through lack of intent doesn't exempt them. I wondered if Rishonim hold of this or perhaps have some chiddush about korban chatas, or perhaps a different explanation.

  • What about it don't you understand? – Double AA Feb 17 '15 at 16:10
  • These sins intrinsically involve bodily enjoyment (contrast, e.g., with stealing, hitting someone, slandering someone, or violating Shabbos, where the sin itself does not intrinsically involve bodily enjoyment). – Fred Feb 17 '15 at 17:05
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    @mevaqesh Your question would be greatly clarified and improved by including all that (I, for one, would upvote it then). – Fred Feb 17 '15 at 17:39
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    @GershonGold While I definitely think you could draw a halachic distinction between the former and the latter, I don't think external vs. internal is an apt distinction (phrased as such). In any case, the hana'as haguf required to violate sha'atneiz is at least superficially similar enough to the other two that it is reasonable to demand either a direct source or a compelling halachic argument with sources to distinguish between them with respect to mis'aseik. – Fred Feb 17 '15 at 19:30
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    Wait, I'm very confused. Is shaatnez a chiyuv kareit? I'm pretty sure it's not. – Heshy Jan 19 '17 at 13:51
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One can characterize the general rule of "mis'asek" as stating that an act is not attributable to a person if the person lacks a conscious state of mind associating him to the act. An inadvertent act is disconnected from and thus not attributed to the person because the person had no conscious, mental connection to it. For an act to be associated to you it must be a conscious act.

Things which involve pleasure, such as eating and sexual relations, are by definition not mis'asek, because pleasure is a conscious state. Any act which involves pleasure is thus by definition a conscious act.

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Asvun De'Oraisah (R' Yosef Engel, 19th C., siman 24) gives a similar approach to R' Elchanan- pleasure-based sins have no "disconnect" through lack of intention.

However, see Rosh Hashana 28a (at the end of the page), which states that kavana for mitzvos should not be needed for mitzvas matza, "as he ate". Rashi explains:

"And he benefited, so it's not mitsasek, just like with prohibited foods and relations."

R' Yosef Engel points out that according to his own approach, Rashi is impossible to understand. He writes that it's unreasonable to say that mitzvas matzo requires one to be derive pleasure from the matza, so the comparison to prohibited foods/relations cannot be made.

It would seem that Rashi understands that pleasure in itself prevents the disconnect between the act and the person, preventing the p'tur of* mis'asek. As such it is relevant even to matza, as there too pleasure is experienced and disconnect prevented.

(As an aside, Rashi is, even without this, difficult to understand- kavana for mitzvos is not just needed to "connect" to the act- even intending the act is not enough if it isn't done leshem mitzva, vetzarich iyun.)

  • +1 for Rashi but it remains difficult. The pleasure ought to alert you to an experience; but adds no clarification of whether it is a permissible or forbidden experience. – mevaqesh Mar 6 '17 at 21:53
  • @mevaqesh ; the pleasure "alerts"/connects you to the act, so an aveira will remain an aveirah and a mitzva will remain a mitzva. – AKA Mar 7 '17 at 18:33

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