I read this on Chabad.org in its discussion of Parshat Vayikra:

• The different types of “sin offering” (chatat) brought to atone for transgressions committed erroneously by the high priest, the entire community, the king or the ordinary Jew;

• The “guilt offering” (asham) brought by one who has misappropriated property of the Sanctuary, who is in doubt as to whether he transgressed a divine prohibition, or who has committed a “betrayal against G‑d” by swearing falsely to defraud a fellow man.

It seems that the asham, or guilt offering, applies to a lesser category of sins than the sin offering, chatat. For example, asham is used when there is merely a suspicion that a sin has been committed. However, it is odd to me to find the sin of slander, which is generally considered a fundamental Jewish transgression--and, along with stealing, a breach of the Ten Commandments--listed among these "second-class" sins.

What are some interpretations for why this is so?

  • 1
    I don't see slander listed as getting any offering. There are 5 things that get an Asham and they are listed in Kereitot 25b and slander isn't one of them.
    – Double AA
    Mar 20, 2015 at 22:41
  • @DoubleAA From the parshah (Vayikra) itself: "24 [he shall restore] any thing about which he hath sworn falsely, he shall even restore it in full, and shall add the fifth part more thereto [...] 25And he shall bring his forfeit unto the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, according to thy valuation, for a guilt-offering, unto the priest"
    – SAH
    Mar 23, 2015 at 1:34
  • 2
    I don't think we are using the word slander the same way. What do you think it means?
    – Double AA
    Mar 23, 2015 at 1:35
  • You're right both that we were using "slander" differently and that I was using it wrong. I guess "swearing falsely to defraud a fellow man" is not slander, but something like stealing + bad oath?
    – SAH
    Apr 3, 2015 at 3:45

1 Answer 1


This question contains two incorrect assumptions.

One incorrect assumption is that a guilt offering (korban asham) is less serious than a sin offering (korban chatas). The Ramban 5:15 indicates that the opposite is true, and the Rama (O.C. 603:1) actually quotes as accepted halakha: one must expend greater effort in repenting from a sin that he might have committed than for one that he know for certain that he has committed.

Second is the issue of "slander". From google: "slander (n.): the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation". This is not mentioned in the verse whatsoever; the case of "defrauding" that is referred to by the Torah here is where someone swears that he is not holding onto the property of his fellow man, when he actually is.

Either way, the main point of the sacrifice is to help the repentant person atone for defrauding his fellow, not for the misuse of God's name. (I say that because intentionally swearing falsely, in general, is subject to the punishment of lashes; see Temurah 3b - even though one has to bring an extra sacrifice for each denial only if it includes a swearing). Thus, the sacrifice isn't such a big deal, because the main idea for repentance here is that the person return the property that he denied. However, because it's still inappropriate for someone to think that they can just deny having someone's property and give it back later, the Torah requires a sacrifice to be brought as well. (Sefer Hachinuch 129)


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