Re: Animal Sacrifices

Michael S. Tsirkin (mtsirkin@usa.net)
Fri, 23 May 1997 13:35:46 +0300

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?

I am in no position to give any advice , but I would like to understand
your letter better. Could you explain more the problem your students face?

Isn't there a contradiction:
1. it would mean nothing more than dropping a few coins in a box
2. are overwhelmed and turned-off by the blood and gore of it all

I think (based on Rashi) that one of the meanings of the sacrifice is that
one should have been killed oneself for his sins ("as if he were
sacrificing himself") - so the sinner should see what should have been done
to him and repent. The idea as I understand it being that the "blood and
gore" become assotiated in one's mind with the sin. Perhaps it is less easy
to become used to than the "dropping a few coins in a box". Do your
students not agree with this?

And of course, if the sacrifices became a routine, and people don't repent
at all they are meaningless. So why does it confuse your student? I would
like to understand.

"The primitive practices picked up in Egypt" is hardly worth arguing with,
I fancy you agree. Golden Calf is exactly the opposite of the korbanot
(sacrifices). Am I wrong somewhere?

"Michael S. Tsirkin" <mtsirkin@usa.net>