Saturday, November 14, 2009

The true value of Korbanot


"[T]he Prophets in their books are frequently found to rebuke their fellow-men for being over-zealous and exerting themselves too much in bringing sacrifices: the prophets thus distinctly declared that the object of the sacrifices is not very essential, and that Gd does not require them.

"Samuel therefore said," Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord" (I Sam. xv. 22)? Isaiah exclaimed," To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord" (Isa. i. 11): Jeremiah declared:" For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offering or sacrifices. But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my, voice, and I will be your Gd, and ye shall be my people" (Jer. vii. 22, 23). This passage has been found difficult in the opinion of all those whose words I have read or heard; they ask, How can Jeremiah say that Gd did not command us about burnt-offering and sacrifice, seeing so many precepts refer to sacrifice?

"The sense of the passage agrees with what I explained to you. Jeremiah says [in the name of Gd) the primary object of the precepts is this, Know me, and serve no other being;" I will be your Gd, and ye shall be my people" (Lev. xxvi. 12). But the commandment that sacrifices shall be brought and that the temple shall be visited has for its object the success of that principle among you; and for its sake I have transferred these modes of worship to my name; idolatry shall thereby be utterly destroyed, and Jewish faith firmly established. You, however, have ignored this object, and taken hold of that which is only the means of obtaining it..."

(Rambam, Moreh haNevuchim, 3:32 - Friedlander translation)

Have a great day,


  1. Is it not unfortunately the same today? Prayers have replaced sacrificial offerings in our Temple. There are some of us who are so particular in reciting our prayers properly and at the correct time, yet we err seriously in our interpersonal relationships and business dealings. Is this not the contemporary version of what our Prophets were warning us about?