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The Meaning and Symbolism of the Sacrifices

Introduction to the Book of Leviticus

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The Meaning and Symbolism of the Sacrifices: Introduction to the Book of Leviticus

A short introduction to Vayikra, the third book of the Torah, which details the various offerings brought in the Holy Temple.
Vayikra, Leviticus, Korbanot

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Lorenzo Rankins Columbus Ohio November 27, 2013

Meaning of Sacrifices I believe that sacrifices are for sin. If there is no sin then of course sacrifice is meaningless. However, I believe that G-d is affirming the reality of sin by requiring the sacrifice. In addition if sin is defined as unfairness, evil, and unrighteousness, then I believe that human history also testifies to the reality of sin. Reply

Catherine M. Thomas Franklin, MA November 20, 2019
in response to Lorenzo Rankins:

Giving without expectation of receiving I think the Rabbi’s point is that sacrifice need not mean paying for something, sacrificing in order to be forgiven of sin. G-d desires that we freely offer up, give away, something of value simply because it pleases Him. Sacrifice is selflessness. We sacrifice any time we give up something, or give away something of value in order to please someone we love and/or care about. In modern terms this might be expressed by parents eating less food in order that their children get to eat and stay healthy. The parents have sacrificed their need for food in order that their children survive. This is of special significance to me because when I was a toddler my own parents (1st generation Americans) ate a lot less so they could afford to keep me well fed. They gave up new clothes for themselves so that I, a rapidly growing child, was always clothed neatly and presentable. Both my parents are are gone. From them I learned how to give with no expectation of getting anything in return. Reply

TH. A. Gilead Gilly March 24, 2012

Chumash I appreciate very much the argument that points to the animal being in us, and therefore links the sacrifice of the animal to us -- to our animal soul.
And the distinction between irrational and super-rational is excellent. Reply

r Jacksonville, FL August 18, 2011

Drink Offering Isn't the Drink Offering more than just the usage of wine? David used water on at least one occasion. I understand the use of wine as an offering but is the Drink Offering offered for personal sin or corperate use? Is it just part of something else or is it complete in itself? Reply

Rabbi Joshua B Gordon encino, ca August 16, 2011

Drink offering Wine is considered a "sacramental" (holy) drink. Everything of any significance is Jewish life is accompanied by a blessing over wine. Shabbat (Kiddush, Havdalah) Bris, Pidyon Haben, Marriage, etc.

The Altar as well is sanctified with a "Wine Libation" by pouring wine upon the altar. Just as animals and grains are offered "on" the altar, wine is poured upon it.

Of course, all of this is not man made, rather ordained by Divine decree Reply

r jacksonville, fl August 12, 2011

drink offering What is it, its purpose and why? Reply

Rabbi Yehoshua B Gordon Encino, CA March 10, 2011

sacrifice Your question is a good one. The answer is: All of the sacrifices which had to be brought at a certain time, like the daily or additional offerings of the Shabbos, were designed originally, by G-d Al-Mighty, to be done on the Shabbos. The same applies even to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. This is not even considered a violation of the Shabbos or Yom Kippur as this is the original intent. There are many similar examples in Jewish law like the Priestly garments made of wool and linen (shatnez), etc. Reply

Anonymous via March 21, 2010

sacrifice Dear Rabbi Gordon,
I heard with attention this explanation about the sacrifices. Okay for the expression of love to G-d by doing things we dont understand.
But still i dont understand how sacrifice have to be done by Cohanim even during Shabat (mussaf) while the purpose of sacrifices are to bring forgiveness .
As to make a sacrifice the Kohen have to light fire on Shabbat and to do many of the melahot (work activities) which are forbidden on this day. Is the Kohen allowed to sin on Shabbat in order to bring forgivenness for the Jewish sinner people?
Sin and forgiveness seem in that case very relative. Or maybe the Temple has an inner structure of time and space which doesn't apply for outside the Temple?
The mitsva of korbanot seem to be relevant in time and space not like the other mitsvots which have to be applied all the time and everywhere? I don't know I'm just asking,
Thanks for your reply, Reply

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