What Can One Do to Atone for a Penalty of Excision in our Days?
Taste of Talmud
One of the prohibitions of the Torah that carries with it the punishment of Kares (excision) is “do not eat any blood of any bird or animal”. (Leviticus 7:26) The Mishna in Kerisoos 20b, delineates the exact parameters of this prohibition. The penalty of kares is only for “Dam Hanefesh” (lifeblood). This includes blood that flows from shechita (slaughter) or from any other mortal wound. Consumption of any other blood, including blood in limbs or organs, carries a penalty of lashes. Two pages later, on 22a, the Talmud asks a question from a Mishna in Chulin, 109a which says that in order to eat the heart of an animal one must first make an incision to ensure that no blood remains inside of it. On this Mishna, the great sage Rav commented, “If one ate it without removing the blood, there is a penalty of kares”. This seems to contradict the words of the Mishna in tractate Kerisoos that says there is no penalty of kares for the blood of the internal organs, just for eating “lifeblood” alone! There are two ways to answer this question. According to Rashi, the answer is that when the animal is slaughtered, the heart draws lifeblood from the neck and that blood gathers in the heart. The great sage, Rav, was referring to this blood of the heart, which is lifeblood, and that is why he said that you must remove this blood in order not to incur kares. The Rif and the Rambam both learn that the reference is to the blood that is inside the heart cavity, as opposed to the blood which is in the meat of the heart. Their opinion is that all blood found in the cavity of the heart is lifeblood that must be removed in order to avoid kares.
Taste of Halacha
“Meat must be washed before it is salted. Ideally, the meat should be soaked for half an hour. If the meat was salted without being soaked you may still soak it and salt it a second time. There are those who permanently prohibit the meat once it has been salted without soaking.” (Shulchan Aruch YOD 69: 1 and 2) The Shach explains the reasoning behind these laws. There is a difference of opinion between the Ran and the Hagahos Maimoni as to the reason for the requirement to wash meat prior to its being salted. According to the Ran, the purpose of the washing is to soften the meat in order to enable the salt to reach deep into the meat and remove all of the blood. In order to accomplish this, the meat must be soaked for half an hour. According to the Hagahos Maimoni, the reason for the pre-washing is to remove all surface blood from the meat. According to this reason, it would be sufficient to rinse the surface of the meat. There is another important distinction between these two opinions. According to the Ran, if you forgot to soak the meat before you salted it, you may still soak it and salt it. According to the Hagahos Maimoni, once you put salt directly on meat which had blood on its outer surface, the salt embeds that blood into the meat and it can no longer be removed. This is why the Shulchan Aruch said there are those who prohibit such meat permanently.
Taste of Parasha
Rabbeinu Yona of Gerondi, of the 13th century, authored a work called “The Gates of Repentance” to guide people along the path of Teshuva. The fourth chapter is called the chapter of Kappara (forgiveness). In it, he enumerates various ways in which a person can achieve forgiveness. He begins by saying that just as with physical ailments there are different cures depending on the severity of the illness, so too, are the maladies of the soul. There are some sins which can be purified by a sincere heartfelt abandoning of the sin, remorse, confession, and acceptance to improve in the future. For others, such as those that carry the penalty of kares, a person must bring a korban chatas (a sin offering). What can we do in our days when we do not have the ability to bring such an offering? The Talmud in Menachos 101a says, “Uneshalma Parim, Sefaseinu” (we will “pay” for cows with our lips). In our time, when we do not have the Bais HaMikdash, one could involve himself in the study of Korbanos and thereby attain the merit of bringing them. In addition, there are specific Mitzvos that are able to overturn a decree of kares. Charity is one of these Mitzvos. What could a person do if he does not have the means to give great amounts of charity? He could speak kindly on behalf of a poor person and cause others to give to him. Other Mitzvos include: being kind to others by visiting the sick, burying the dead, rejoicing at a wedding, and learning Torah. Concerning Torah it says, “The Torah is a tree of life to those who hold on to it”. One merits life by increasing the amount of Torah he learns.