Today we ask the database query:
What communal sin offerings are connected with an Ox
The query uncovers
An examination of these
examples justifies the Rashi assertion that
Only the Idolatry sin offering uses an ox for an up
The table below presents results of the query
along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.
||Primarily Sin offering?
||Communal sin offering
||Day-of-atonement sin offering
|| Temple consecration offerings
|| Idolatry sin offering
The offerings brought on occasions of sin sometimes involve both
sin and up offerings.
As can be seen, and as Rashi / Sifra /Sifray state: Among communal
sin offerings the idolatry sin offering is the only occasion when the
ox is used for an up offering. In the other sin offerings the ox is
used for the sin offering.
We however have expanded the database inquiry to include
all communal offerings involving a sin offering. The slight expansion
includes a) the Omer offering and b) the Temple consecration offerings. These offerings while
not primarily sin offerings do involve sin offerings. The broader class allows a more
In fact three offerings - idolatry sin offering, Temple consecration offerings, omer
offering - involve an ox for an up offering and a goat for a sin offering. These
three offerings deal with Jewish leadership in the world: a) Judaism introduced
the idea of lack of idolatry, b) the Prince offerings were brought at the dedication
of the Temple which was a beacon of light for the whole world, c) the Omer offering,
connected with the celebration of the Exodus and the receipt of the Torah also indicates
But then the symbolism of the offerings is clear: By way of background
the animal brought for a sin offering symbolizes how sin is to be
avoided. The animal brought for an up offering indicates how are strivings to go
up to God should be focused.
We can therefore make the following distinctions. For ordinary communal sin
offerings, the way the community rectifies its sin is to behave like an ox - that is,
it must focus its energies on ploughing God's nation of people and caring for the
A different analysis applies to sin offerings connected with Jewish leadership
among world nations.
When leading the
world, the Jews must help God (up offering) to plough the human fields producing new national
produce; The Jews must resist againt the sin of defection
with goat-like tenacity to all tempatations to
defect to other religions.
Here is still another perspective. The sin offerings - communal negligence
and Yom Kippur - deal with passion sins. Hence the sin offering is an ox symbolizing
that greater attention to the community must be given. By contrast the world-leadership
offerings - the Omer-exodus offering, the Temple consecration offering and the idolatry
offering - deal with social imitation sins. They require, to avoid sin, resisting the temptation to follow and imitate non-Jewish
Notice how Rashi, Sifra, Sifray, dealt with one problem while we have broadened
it and obtained a slightly broader perspective. This is typical to the approach that
should be used when dealing with the database methods.