Positive Mitzvah Sixty-Eight

Offerings of a Court that has Erred

Requires Beit HaMikdash

VaYikra 4:13 If the entire congregation of Yisrael erred and the matter was concealed from the eyes of the community, and they did [transgress] one of the mitzvot of Hashem that should not be done, they incur guilt.

We are commanded that the Court is to offer a sacrifice if it gives a wrong decision. 

The Court referred to in this Mitzvah is the Great Sanhedrin of seventy-one members, which occupied the Chamber of Hewn Stone on the Temple Mount.  Such an offering was brought only where the error in question affected a certain application of the Torah, but not the Torah itself. 

Thus the Mishnah says, "If the Court gives a decision uprooting an entire principle [of the Torah]: if they say, 'There is nothing in the Torah concerning idolatry', they [i.e. the members of the the Court] are not culpable.  But if they say, 'The Torah does treat of idolatry, but if a man only bows down to an idol he is exempt', they are culpable" (Hor.3b)