Re: Animal Sacrifices

James Cohen (
Fri, 23 May 97 13:47:17 UT

Lori Palatnik wrote:
>I have a few students who are disturbed about Temple sacrifices
>(animals, not grain). One claims it was to give expression to primitive
>practices that we picked up in Egypt (G-d getting it out of our system,
>so-to-speak). He gives evidence regarding the Golden Calf-- how quick
>the Jewish people were to build an animal idol. He also makes a point
>(which I see as valid) that if we were to have sacrifices today to atone
>for our mistakes, we would show up, give our animal, and it would mean
>nothing more than dropping a few coins in a box. If everyone was doing
>it, it would become routine. Others are overwhelmed and turned-off by
>the blood and gore of it all. Does anyone have ideas to offer to them?

A few ideas on this, which others with more knowledge than I have can
verfity or correct:
(1) The sacrifices, in addition to atoning for sins, represent the food of
the Kohanim (priests), who have no other share in the produce of the land.
Without sacrifices, the priests starve.
(2) Sacrifices elevate the eating of meat from an animal act to a spiritual
act. It also recognizes the need to kill so that one may live and that the
animal killed has lost its life for my benefit. Buying meat in a
supermarket today negates this and reduces the animal to a commodity, not a
creature created by Hashem. This also applies to Kashrut (Dietry Laws).
(3) If these students eat meat, fish or fowl they would benefit by
performing the sacrifices, as they would then be fully aware of where their
own food comes from. Not seeing the slaughtering, processing and packaging
in today's society does not relieve them of their responsibility for the
kill, any more than paying someone to commit any act, including murder, for
one's own benefit relieves either party of responsibility for the crime or

James Cohen
Pennington, NJ