Re: Animal Sacrifices

Russell Hendel (rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu)
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 01:40:04 -0400

In V3n41, Arnold Wolf and James Cohen respond to the students in Lori
Palatniks class regarding animal sacrifices. Some important points and
sources regarding sacrifices are the following:h

* Rabbi Hirsch's commentary on VaYikrah is probably the best source for a
good Jewish View on sacrifices. Though very detailed it is well worth it.

* Rav Hirsch points out that there are many sacrifices not having animals
or blood at all: e.g. ---Ketoreth (the "perfume" sacrifice on the golden
altar) ---Minchah ( the "flour" sacrifice).

Rav Hirsch also points out we don't object to killing animals if there is a
purpose---e.g. for leather for shoes or for fur for coats. The real issue
here is not the killing but whether there is a purpose. According to Rav
Hirsch according to the Torah man has a need for symbolic expression of his
deepest and most inner emotions. The Torah allows this thru the whole
sacrificial order.

What are the basic sacrifices symbolizing? What is so important` to
symbolize? Rav Hirsch answers this throughout his commentary. Allow me to
give a simple example:

A person sins and feels quilty. How can his former emotional self be
"redeemed". The Torah through sacrifice answers.

A cursory look at a Concordance will show us that "sheep" refers to "simple
people" who serve G-d simply and "follow" him. So we take a sheet(=simple
person) and bring him to the North side of the temple where the "table
(=physical passions)" can be seen. The person then slaughters and
terminates these passions but the blood(=life force) of the passions is
poured (="transformed") from its former "physical animal vessel" to a "holy
temple vessel".This "animal blood in a temple vessel"(=animal life force
transformed to holy motives) is then used to place the blood on the horns
(top) of the altar (Rav Hirsch explains that a sinner is depressed and we
must emphasize how high (altar horns) he has risen to remotivate himself to
serve G-d.

Lori at this point will probably retort--sounds nice, but how can I teach
all this to my class? I have a suggestion which has been used in
mathematics education (where students also abhor the "technical details"):

Let Lori give students the basic ideas --animal symbols, altar part symbols
etc---and then let the students write what they think the symbolism is and
let them also write if it helps. The technical term used in math education
is "idea diaries" in`which students record their reflections on difficult
and technical concepts and their attempts to reproduce them. Such an
exercise allows students to "discover" themselves the purpose inin these
laws and can give them insights.

I hope this helps and improves appreciation of Torah

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA rhendel @ mcs drexel edu