|Positive Mitzvah Seventy-One
The Unconditional Asham (Guilt)-offering
Requires Beit HaMikdash
We are commanded that one who commits certain transgressions must offer a Asham-offering, and would thus obtain forgiveness. This is called an Unconditional Asham-offering.
The transgressions for which this offering is required are: sacrilege, robbery, having connection with a betrothed bondwoman, and swearing falsely in a case of a deposit. Whoever commits sacrilege unintentionally, in other words, whoever derives a perutah's worth (the smallest copper coin current in the days of the Sages) of advantage from anything belonging to the Sanctuary, whether of Consecrated Things that pertain to the Temple treasure, or of those that pertain to the Mizbeach; or whoever robs his fellow of the value of a perutah or more, and swears [falsely in the matter]; or whoever has connection with a betrothed bondwoman, whether unintentionally or willfully - in all these cases he is under obligation to bring an offering for his sin - not a Chataat-offering, but a Asham-offering, and such an offering is called an Unconditional Asham-offering.
In connection with the law of sacrilege RaMBaM says, "It behooves every man to mediate upon the ordinances of the Holy Torah and to discern their ultimate purpose according to his ability: let him not hold lightly that for which he finds no explanation or discovers no reason - And let him not break through to come up unto Hashem, lest He break forth upon him (Shemot 19:24) - and let him not consider it in the same manner in which he considers secular things.
See how stringent the Torah is in the case of sacrilege! If, by the use of mere words, the Name of Hashem of the universe having been proclaimed over [objects of] wood, stone, earth and ashes, sanctity has been conferred upon them, so that whoever employs them for a secular purpose [becomes culpable for] having committed sacrilege - a violation which even if committed unintentionally necessitates atonement - how much more should this be true of a Mitzvah which the Holy One, Baruch Hu, has ordained for us, namely that one should not rebel against it [merely] because he doe snot know its explanation, and that he should make no untrue representations concerning Hashem. Truly one is not to consider [His ordinances] i in the same manner in which he consider secular things." (Mishneh Torah, Avodah, Hilchot Me'ilah 8, 8)