Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Which Sin is Worse?

Which is worse, a definite or a questionable sin?

In terms of rebellion against God, a definite sin is clearly worse. However, there are other ways in which a questionable (safek) sin is worse.

The Rema (Orah Hayim 603:1) writes that in terms of repentance, a questionable sin is worse because one is not sure whether one needs to repent, and therefore automatically gives less efort. One has more regret on a definite sin. Quoting the students of Rabbeinu Yonah in their commentary to Berakhos, the Rema explains that this is why an asham sacrifice (for a questionable sin) was more monetarily valuable than a hatas sacrifice (for a definite sin).

The Arukh Ha-Shulhan adds that one's evil urge, yetzer ha-ra, is more capable of tempting one to violate a questionable sin than a definite sin.

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