Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vayikra. A General Discussion about Korbanos.

To the modern mind, animal sacrifice is so foreign as to be incomprehensible.  I would like to propose a perspective that some of you might not be aware of.

In the donations to the construction of the Mishkan, three very puzzling behaviors are mentioned.
1. The hair of the goats that was used to make the curtains was spun off of the bodies of the living goats:  unlike wool, which is shorn, goat hair is plucked off gently from the goat, as in the case of Cashmere.  The spinners spun the hair as they removed it from the living goats.  (Rashi, Shemos 35:26)
2. The gold and silver ornaments the women donated were not brought in boxed or wrapped.  They were worn to the office and given directly from their bodies to the collectors.  (Rashi, Shemos 35:22)
3. The oil for the menora was not pressed from olives on the ground: they climbed ladders into the trees and began the oil removal right there as they pulled the olives off of the branches. (Rashi, Shemos 35:14)

In all these cases, the life force that was associated with the offering was an integral part of the donation.  The same is true with animal sacrifice.  We're not killing cows, we're not just ending their lives in order to eat them: we are weaving their life-force into the spiritual web of the universe.  Vayikra 17:11- כי נפש הבשר בדם היא ואני נתתיו לכם על המזבח לכפר על נפשותיכם כי הדם הוא בנפש יכפר.

This is not exclusive to the sacrifice of animals and birds.

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