Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why did God tell us to bring sacrifices? (Summary of Sources)

Let's leave aside the fact that most all ANE societies had rituals similar to what's described in Leviticus. Let's forget that long-room tripartite temples (like the one our ancestors constructed in Jerusalem) were prevalent throughout the region. Let's likewise pretend we don't know that scholars imagine Leviticus was written by Temple priests seeking to justify, explain, and legislate their various practices and prerogatives. Instead let's turn to the classic sources...

Why did God tell us to bring sacrifices?

Vayikra Raba 42:5: To wean us off idolatry (presumably the idolatry practiced by other ANE cults using similar rituals, as mentioned above.)

Menahot 110a: As an (arbitrary) method of atonement. (Rahi's gloss, there)

Rambam: Only for the purpose of weaning us from idolatry

Ramban: To make the supplicant realize that as that "having sinned against God with his body and soul, he would deserve to have his blood spilled and his body burned." Plus kabbalistic reasons, not easily understood.

Kuzari: Its a necessary prereq for prophesy.

Commentary: I know we ask all the time for the order of sacrifice to be restored, but if these are the reasons behind the rite... honestly, what for? We can't say they do God any good (see Menachot 110a, and the Rambam) We've already been weaned from idolatry; and we have a new method of atonement (i.e. Yom Kippur) which seems to work. So why bother?

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