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From: rhendel@king.mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 19:53:18 -0400 Subject: Why So Much Detail on Korbanoth In the Torah It was Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch who fully answered this question. I shall try in 20-40 lines to state his general thesis, defend it, and give some pithy examples. Rav Hirsch basically states that the Korbanoth are symbolic commandments which translate into fundamental principals of psychology and social interaction. *If* we accept this thesis then we no longer have a question: It makes sense for a book of morals to devote so much time to questions of human personality and social interaction. Some people object to Rav Hirsch's symbolic methods: They are totally unaware that Rav Hirsch himself wrote a beautiful, deep and profound 100 page essay "Grundlinien einer Judischen symbolic" which is translated (excellently) in Breuer's Timeless Torah. It is Rav Hirsch himself (not his opponents) who asks such fundamental questions as: (i) Are we allowed to interpret divine commandments symbolically, (ii) are we ever obligated to so interpret them, (iii) even if we are suppose to interpret them symbolically how do we go about that. I promised 20-50 lines so let me give a few simple but forceful examples: The torah herself explicitly declares 4 mitzvoth to be symbolic (Milah, Shabbath, Tefillin, and Pesach Mitzrayim). It uses the word OTH and *forces* us to understand these mitzvoth in a symbolic manner. What is a symbol (OTH)?: "The use of one object or proceedure to remind someone of other objects or proceedures( a common definition)." Hence concludes Rav Hirsch if the Torah tells us to wear Tzitzith and *thereby* remember Gods commandments then we are *forced* (by the Torah herself) to interpret the Tzitizh not as an end but as a symbolic means to think of something else. Rav Hirsch goes into details on the 3 classes of commandments we must interpret symbolically and *how* we are to interpret them (if there is a request I will be happy to summarize this profound but difficult to read essay). Getting back to korbanoth let me give one example of how korbanoth discuss personality: The Olah (=go up) offering of the ordinary person has the blood (= personality or soul) thrown only to the *half way mark* of the altar (...if you want to go up in life remember that you are still only half there with many deficiencies -- don't get to high, see reality). On the other hand the Olah(=go up) offering of the poor person has the blood squeezed on *top* of the altar ( a poor person needs encouragement when he wishes to go up and improve...hence we remind of the high level he is already at--we tell him his accomplishments...an ordinary person when he wants to go up however needs caution so we instead tell him that he is only at the half way mark). Whether one agrees with this or not it is clear that the Torah when interpreted symbolically gives specific recommendations for specific people in specific circumstances (thus a person who wants to improve is reminded of his accomplishements if he is poor and cautioned about his inachievements if he is ordinary). I would be happy to give further elaboration if their is MJ interest (maybe we could start a Korban MJ). I *strongly* recommend Rav Hirsch's essay in Eternal torah along with his beautiful commentary on Ex 25-Lev 19. I hope I have conveyed a glimpse of the mamoth defensive work that he undertook. study the torah, turn in it , turn in it...indeed all is in it Russell Hendel, Ph.d ASA, rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu