Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, March 17, 2006

Chatat and Asham: Bible Commentary on Leviticus 5:1-6:7 with a poem by Marguerite Wilkinson, Guilty

Daily Readings
Job 33:8-33, Exodus 20:22-21:36, Leviticus 5:1-6:7, I Corinthians 11

Daily Text: Leviticus 5:1-6:7

Chatat and Asham
Chatat here seems to be a transgression against the reputation or the rights of another whether deliberately or unwittingly, while Asham has to do with sin involving holy things of the LORD or breaking a commandment of the LORD, e.g., do not steal, and depriving another person of what is rightfully theirs. Both of the latter offend the LORD, but hurting a brother or a sister compounds that offense. So the Chatat requires a sacrifice according to your means for atonement and forgiveness, while Asham requires both restitution up to 20 % beyond the principle, and an expensive ram for the sacrifice. In this case the possible offense is so grave that no consideration is given the pecuniary circumstances of the offender.

In the case of Asham, Leviticus 5:14-6:7, the Haggadah makes observations. One is from Rabbi Jose: “See the blindness of him who robs or defrauds! For a trifling sum he is called sinner, liar, thief, defrauder. He must bring a costly asham and is forgiven only through confession and repentance. Moreover Scripture accounts him as having taken a life. Whose life? According to one opinion, that of his victim; according to another opinion, his own life. But the righteous, who are generous and give to others, are accounted as having acquired lives. They become like their Creator who revives the spirit of the lowly and oppressed” [185:779].

Marguerite Wilkinson


I never cut my neighbor’s throat;
My neighbor’s gold I never stole;
I never spoiled his house and land;
But God have mercy on my soul!

For I am haunted night and day
By all the deeds I have not done;
O unattempted loveliness!
O costly valor never won!

Collect for the Day
May we, together with the whole House of Israel, be mindful of the needs of others, sharing with them the fruits of our labor, helping to sustain them in body and soul. For all, may Your promise be fulfilled: “Then shall your light blaze forth like the dawn, and your wounds shall quickly heal; your righteousness shall walk before you, the glory of the Lord shall follow you.” [477:56 Kindling the Yom Kippur Lights]


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