(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 22:46:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Why Animal Sacrifices?

Andrew Getraer in Torah Forum Volume 4 Number 83 puts forward the classical
theory that the Torah gave us Korbanoth because that was the preferred
method of worship in ancient times. The Torah redeemed this method by (a)
prohibiting sacrificing humans, (b) requiring spiritual ends for
sacrifices,  letting Priests benefit from the sacrifices.

I have written alternate explanations and spoken out against this
explanation in the past. For details see my article "Maimonides' Attitude
Towards Sacrifices" (1973, Tradition).

Let me however quickly outline some serious problems with this theory These
ideas have occured on Torah Forum in the past: (a) It does not account for
the fact that over 20% of the Bible and over 33% of the Talmud deals with
sacrifice; (b) It does not account for the fact that we hope to have
sacrifices reinstituted in the times of the Mesiah;  MOST IMPORTANTLY it
does not motivate me to learn sacrifices--if I went to a friend and said
let us learn sacrifices he might shrug his shoulder and say 'they are no
longer relevant'. (d) I lose all the rich symbolic material inherent in the
sacrifices that can help me in my daily life.

For example: a person who sins brings a sin offering. The sin offering has
its blood placed on the altars horns (the highest point of the alter).This
is symbolic of the fact that outreach activities for a sinner consist in
emphasizing how high up (high=altar horns) he had achieved in his spiritual
goals (spirit=blood). Rabbi Hirsch in his commentary shows how all
sacrifice laws can be translated into deep psychological principles which
can help us in our daily lives.

For these reasons I think we should as a matter of policy urge the symbolic
approach vs the historical approach.

Russell Hendel; ModeratoR Rashi Is Simple;