1) TO WHOM DOES THE PROHIBITION OF "MOLECH" APPLY?
OPINIONS: The Gemara earlier (2b) quotes Rebbi Yochanan who says that the reason why the Mishnah (2a) specifies the number of Isurim punishable with Kares is in order to teach that one who transgresses all of these Isurim in one moment of forgetfulness (b'He'elem Achas) is obligated to bring a Korban Chatas for each transgression, and not just one Chatas for all of them.
The Gemara here asks whom the Mishnah is discussing when it says that one can commit all of these transgressions and be obligated to bring 36 Chata'os, a Chatas for each transgression. It cannot be a man, because he cannot be Chayav for all of them; only a woman is Chayav for having relations with an animal. However, it also cannot be a woman, because the Isur of Mishkav Zachar does not apply to a woman.
The Gemara's question implies that this is the only Isur, of all of the Isurim in the Mishnah, that does not apply to a woman, while all of the other Isurim apply to a woman. Is this indeed the case?
(a) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES (#13) asks that the Gemara also could have said that the Mishnah cannot be discussing a woman who transgresses, because the Isur of giving one's children to Molech does not apply to a woman. The Torah states that one is Chayav for passing "his offspring" to Molech (Vayikra 20:1-2), implying that the prohibition applies only to the father.
The MISHNAS CHACHAMIM, cited by the YAD BINYAMIN, writes that even though the Halachah is that men and women are equally bound to observe the prohibitions of the Torah, women are exempt from the Isur of Molech, because the idolatrous rite of Molech was that the priests would insist only that the father hand over his children to Molech, but not the mother.
Similarly, the TZAFNAS PANE'ACH (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 6:3, part two, second edition) cites the SIFRI in Parshas Re'eh that comments on the verse, "... also their sons and daughters the nations burn in the fire to their gods" (Devarim 12:31). The Sifri says that the word "also" comes to include a prohibition to offer one's father or mother to Avodah Zarah, because this was the practice of the Nochrim. It is clear from here that the prohibition against such acts of Avodah Zarah depends upon the practice of the Nochrim. Consequently, it is logical that since it was not the practice for women to give their children to Molech, women are not included in the Isur. (Y. SHAW)
(b) The SEFER HA'CHINUCH (end of Mitzvah #208), however, asserts that the prohibition of the Torah not to give one's children to Molech applies to both the father and the mother. Accordingly, the Isur of Molech mentioned in the Mishnah here applies to both men and women.
The TORAS KOHANIM supports this view. The Toras Kohanim comments on the verse, "Any person from Bnei Yisrael... who will give from his offspring to Molech..." (Vayikra 20:2). The Toras Kohanim states that the words, "from Bnei Yisrael," come to include women and slaves in the Isur. (D. BLOOM)
2) CAN A WOMAN BE PUNISHED WITH "KARES"?
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rebbi Avahu who says that, according to Rebbi Yishmael, a man who committed both the act of Shochev with and the act of Nishkav with another man is liable twice because different verses forbid each act ("Lo Sishkav" and "Lo Yiheyeh Kadesh"). According to Rebbi Akiva, he is liable only once, because both acts are derived from "Lo Siten Shechavtecha," which is read both "Lo Sashkiv" and "Lo Sishakav" (SHITAH MEKUBETZES).
RASHI (DH d'Amar Rebbi Avahu) asks that this teaches only that a man is punished for these sins, but not a woman. From where do we learn that a woman is punished with Kares and is obligated to bring a Korban Chatas for transgressing any of the Isurei Ervah?
Rashi answers (based on the Gemara in Bava Kama 32b) that since the woman derives physical pleasure from the forbidden act, she is included in the verse, "And the souls that do this (derive physical pleasure from any of the forbidden relationships) will be cut off from within their nation" (Vayikra 18:29).
What is Rashi's question? The Gemara (Temurah 2b and elsewhere) teaches that the Torah equates man and woman with regard to all of the punishments in the Torah. Why is a special verse needed to include a woman in the punishment of Isurei Ervah?
ANSWER: In the case of forbidden relations, the general rule that man and woman are equal with regard to punishments does not apply, because the verse that mentions the punishment of Kares says, "... the souls that do (ha'Osos)," implying that only one who does an action will be punished with Kares. In the act of forbidden relations, it is only the man who does the action, while the woman is passive and does no action. Moreover, since the woman does no action, she should not be obligated to bring a Korban Chatas, since a Chatas is brought only for a transgression that involves an action. Therefore, a special verse is necessary to include her in the punishment of Kares and to obligate her to bring a Korban Chatas. What is the logic to include her in the punishment? It must be that since she derives pleasure from the act, it is considered as if she does an action.
3) "OMER MUTAR"
The Gemara asks, where do we find a case of "Shigegas Avodas Kochavim," a case of accidental worship of idols? The Gemara answers that according to Rava, such a case exists when a person mistakenly thinks that it is permissible to worship Avodah Zarah. Rava maintains that one who sins because he mistakenly thinks that a prohibited act is permitted ("Omer Mutar") is considered to have sinned inadvertently ("b'Shogeg"). (See Insights to Avodah Zarah 64:1
The Gemara here seems to contradict the words of RASHI earlier (2a, DH v'Al), who writes that when a person transgresses a prohibition because he thinks that the act is permitted (Omer Mutar), he is considered an "Ones" and is not obligated to bring a Korban Chatas. How can Rashi say that a case of Omer Mutar is considered a case of Ones, and not Shogeg, when the Gemara here says that it is a case of Shogeg?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Makos (7b and 9a) and in Sanhedrin (62a) discusses the dispute between Rava and Abaye about the status of one who sins in a case of Omer Mutar. According to Abaye, Omer Mutar is considered a form of Ones, and one is not obligated to bring a Korban. Rava maintains that one is obligated to bring a Korban for Omer Mutar, because it is considered like Shogeg. Rashi earlier addresses Abaye's opinion, while the Gemara here specifically addresses Rava's opinion.