A Korban Chatas is brought as a form of forgiveness after a person sinned “by mistake.” Chatas comes from the word “Chet,” meaning sin.
It’s important to note that Korbanos are not brought for intentional sins, meaning sins done on purpose. That’s called Maizid in Hebrew – מזיד. They are also not brought for completely accidental sins, called Oanes in Hebrew – אונס. For a Maizid sin, it takes more than a Korban to be forgiven, and for an Oanes sin there is no need for a Korban. A Korban is brought only for sins which were not intentional but also not a complete accident. Our Rabbis call this a Shogeg sin – שוגג.
A modern day example would be when someone drives over the speed limit. No police officer would accept an excuse like, “I am sorry officer, but I didn’t see a speed limit sign.” Although it’s true that he or she didn’t see the sign, it still is not a valid excuse and in all probability the driver will receive a speeding ticket. So, this is a good example of a “sin” that is not on purpose, yet also not a complete accident. It’s a Shogeg.
Never in history has anyone brought a Korban Chatas for speeding, so here are two other Shazak Scenarios, where a person sins be’Shogeg:
“Oh my! I thought it was Thursday when I cooked the meal. But it was really Shabbos!”
“Huh, how did that happen?”
“I forgot to look at this year’s calendar and I was looking at last year’s calendar! Oy Vey is mir! I mixed up Thursday with Shabbos!”
Both Mr. Oops and Mrs. Fergessen need to bring a Korban Chatas. They can bring a female goat or a lamb to the Kohen in the Beis HaMikdash. Now, in the eyes of HaShem, they have a clean slate and can start fresh.