Do involuntary sins count? - Ki Tetse

Thursday, 27 August, 2020 - 6:57 am

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When someone does something positive by mistake, does it have any value? If someone does something bad involuntarily, what does it mean?

In this week’s Parasha Ki Tetse, we learn about an interesting Mitzvah. When we put an ox to thresh the grain, we are forbidden to muzzle it, in other words we must allow him to eat from the grain it is threshing. This law applies whenever we give a task involving food to an animal.

What happens when the ox walks over the field, not in order to thresh it, but to make a shortcut. Does the law prohibiting to muzzle it apply? The ox may not intend to thresh, but it is doing it, nevertheless. The conclusion is that since the ox is not intending to thresh the grain, we are allowed to prevent it from eating it.  

We can learn from this something very meaningful regarding the actions we do by mistake.

The sins we do without intending to, do not count as sins. If someone did not intend to open the light on Shabbat but he did it involuntarily by leaning on the wall, this does not count as a sin. G-d knows the truth.

On the other hand, the Mitzvot that we do always count, even it we did not do them on purpose and even if someone else forced us to do them. If someone’s money fell in the street, and a poor man found it and used it to feed himself and his family, this counts as “Tzedakah” for the man who lost the money. Even though this was not his intention at all.

Why does a positive action done without intention still count as a Mitzvah, whereas a sin done without intention is not counted as an Avera?

Because the truth is that we are never separated from G-d, our soul is always united with Him. Deep inside, we always want to act according to G-d’s will. What is strange and unnatural is when we do not act like this. Someone has to do the wrong thing on purpose in order for it to count.

Let us start every day of the upcoming week with the special words of Mode Ani*, reminding ourselves of our true identity. Let us contemplate that our soul is always united with G-d, and that the natural thing for is to do is to act righteously.

Shabbat Shalom,


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