Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Questionnaire on Korbanot.

On Shabbat, we had a discussion in our learning group about Korbanot. The debate got quite interesting and the issue at hand was how to understand the return of Korbanot when the Beit Hamikdash is rebuilt. I would like to put out the question and try to get an honest answer from readers about their true feelings on the subject. The questions are as follows:

1. Do you believe Korbanot are going to be reinstated as they were during the times of the Beit Hamikdash?

2. If yes, can you see yourself inspired by the practice? Be honest with yourself and answer truthfully.

3. If no, why do you say “Vehashev et Ha’avodah Lidvir Beitecha” thrice daily? What do you have in mind when you say it?

I do not want to impose on anyone’s sensitivity to anonymity, but it would make it more interesting if you could include how you view yourself: Yeshivish, Chareidi, Dati Leumi, Chassidish, MO, Amorphous, etc (I am more interested how you view yourself – not how people perceive you.)

My answer? I promise I will post it after some time passes. I do not want to lead with an opinion.


  1. 1. Yes

    2. Yes, because I would reflect on the halachic concepts and philosophical principles embodied in the rituals, and I actually find these to be very profound - among the most profound in the entire Torah. This is especially true with regard to the observance of Tumah V'Tahorah in my view.

    We need to be frank about the fact that idolatrous emotions and predilections are still very much alive and well in today's society, albeit manifest in more subtle forms than in ancient times. Thus, the necessity of a halachic regimen designed to channel and sublimate these tendencies has not diminished in the slightest.

  2. I expect the temple service to be reinstated precisely as it was done in the past.

    I can't imagine that I would find it moving. But, as it says in Pirkei Ovos 2:4 says “asei r’tzoncho kirtzono.” There is a story about AJ Heschel that brings this into practical focus. Heschel had a great appreciation of the embodiment of truth in tradition. He was fond of telling the story of a woman who approached him in the synagogue, complaining that our seder ha’tefilloh did not say what she wanted to say. "Madam," he responded, "you have it precisely backwards. The idea is not for the seder ha’tefilloh to say what you want to say but for you to want to say what the seder ha’tefilloh says."
    I hope that I will have the spiritual sensitivity to comprehend and appreciate what the korbanos signify.

  3. 1) I recall in the back of my mind shittos implying the opposite, but probably yes.

    2) Being inspired is difficult. I can count around 5 times that I've been truly inspired during davening. As a zar, my relationship to the avodah would be even more passive than my relationship to tefillah - all I would do for the former is semicha and watching (and eating, when relevant). All I can hope is that entering the Beis HaMikdash and seeing the minutiae of the activity therein occurring around me would provide a spatial inspiration in the same way that Shabbos or Yomtov provides a temporal inspiration.

  4. 1) Yes, at least in the beggining of the messianic period.

    2) Yes, and I have to put my money where my mouth is, I am a Kohen.

  5. Chardal,

    What did you mean "at least at the beginning"?

  6. 1)No,as per Medrash
    2)No,I know no source that it should Inspire you per say You are supposed to see yourself as the Korbon
    3)The avodah as it is today Mitzvos and the like Just on a higher Spritual Plain In Eretz Yisroel with Moshiach

  7. >What did you mean "at least at the beginning"?

    I think that there will be different stages to the messianic era. The begining will have all the temple rites as in the past and gradually there will be a move towards a different sort of temple service.

  8. >1)No,as per Medrash

    What Medrash are you referring to?

  9. כל הקרבנות בטלים לעתיד לבוא, חוץ מתודה

    (מדרש ויקרא רבה ט, ז)

    רבי פנחס ורבי לוי ורבי יוחנן בשם ר' מנחם דגליא לעתיד לבוא כל הקרבנות בטלין וקרבן תודה אינו בטל.

    (מדרש ויקרא רבה, פרשה לט)

    See also זהר בשלח נ"ה ב

    see also, rav Kook in Olat Raaya, vol 1, page 292:

    "אבל לעתיד לבוא, שפע הדעת יתפשט ויחדור אפילו בבעלי החיים. 'לא ירעו ולא ישחיתו בכל הר קדשי, כי מלאה הארץ דעה את ה''. וההקרבה שתהיה אז של מנחה, מהצומח, תערב לה' כימי עולם וכשנים קדמוניות"

  10. Chardal,

    Todah is still an animal offering. It clearly is not the problem R. Menachem (the source for both midrashim) had in mind (especially if he was from Gaul!) but rather if Umale'ah ha'aretz De'ah et Hashem there will be no need for Olot and Chata'ot that are Kaparot. Todot and Shelamim (they are one group and interchangeable in halacha) only will remain.

    As to Rav Kook, that is already different. I had heard that he says this and I thank you for the source. Where I do not understand is why you said 'at the earlier stages". The way I read him there will not be animal offerings again at all. Also where is his source? The korban Tamid will accordingly become a vegan offering? I wonder how he learns Rambam in Hilchot Melachim?

  11. I was quoting the midrash to show there would be a change in the sacrifices, not that they would be canceled altogether.

    Sorry for not being clear on Rav Kook's shita. You have to put together seperate passages to see that Rav Kook held that at the begining of the third temple period there would be a full sacrificial service and it would gradually move to a non-animal sacrifice service over a long period of time.

    There are several passages in the Zohar that support this but I could not find the exact sources right now.

    I don't think Rav Kook holds like the Rambam in hilchot melachim.

  12. Also, one could argue that the component of Todah that is the ikkar are the mincha offerings that come with it. That is, after all, what distinguishes the Todah from a regular shlamim (except, of course for being eaten only for one day and not two). I would argue that the main symbolic feature of the todah IS the mincha component.

    In any case, the midrash is pretty radical. Think about it. It basically canceles ALL comunal offerings and only leaves one type of individual behind. (although some of the nosei keilim of the midrash learn that it does not apply to communal offerings)

  13. Nu, what's your position?

  14. I really don't understand what is going on. Are people saying that in the time of mashiach when the bais hamikdash will be rebuilt the question of korbonot will be decided by rabbis looking at rishonim and achronim?

    If mashiach came presumably there would be a new hitgalut hashechina, the confusions we now have will clear up and the distortions caused by our galus will be removed. Wouldn't the decision depend on the spiritual consciousness as it existed at that time?

    For example will women be priests?
    Is patriarchy and the exclusion of women an essence that will exist forever? It is one thing to say we get through the day with the Torah we have, it is quite another to believe every ancient practise will be perpetuated even in the utopian bais hamikdash of the future.

    Am I missing some relevant halacha?

  15. 1)Yes, however like EJ said how do we know exactly whats going to be when mashiach comes with the revelation he will bring. Second of all, today we have around 14 million Jews, har habayis has a limited space and the bais hamikdosh has certain parameters it needs to be. Unless there are nissim geluim, I don't know how physically all those animal korbonos can be sacrificed (all the nidah women coming in etc.) We are talking about at least tens of thousands of karbonos per day! I like Chardal's pshat from Rav Kook, and it makes sense that mashiach times is not going to be a spiritual plateau but a growth.

    2)I would probably be in awe of any avodah I witnessed in the bais hamikdash. For most people to visualize this is probably to difficult, as we are placing our own biases and ideologies in to what the bais hamikidish and the messianic age will be like. Again, a time of spiritual growth and understanding will not have many of the hangups we have today.

    I will identify as a American-Centrist-Yeshivish-Orthodox -Rationlist mystic :-)

  16. >Nu, what's your position?

    Not so fast! This is my blog! :-)


    I am surprised at your surprise. You seem to operate under the impression that yemot hamashiach is some miraculous occurrence that will change humanity. In my opinion it is the opposite when humanity changes and comes to an understanding of God, the transcendental God that Israel teaches, there will be no more reason for war, peace will therefore reign and people will be able to dedicate themselves to further understand this great Entity - God - and emulate His ways.

    I also believe that the Torah will not change then or ever. The only difference will be that with the return of Sanhedrin certain problems that we have nowadays because of lack of authority to change, will then be rectified. It is rather an improvement on our present state but no radical change will occur. IOW I follow Rambam's psak like Shmuel!

  17. >(all the nidah women coming in etc.

    You mean Yoldot! Nu that is not so bad!

  18. Whether change occurs bottom up or top down is really not the issue I don't think. I am familiar with the Rambam's view on the difference between the messianic period and today. And I acknowledge that in learning kodshim Jews believe those halachot will be relevant and presumably unchanged. OTOH good Jews learn more than the laws governing the korban todah and yet we just heard what Rav
    Kook said.

    What I was questioning really is why a psak is relevant to a metzius. Emunah says there will be a messianic period. What will happen then will happen. What sense does it make to pasken what will happen? Can anyone pasken what will happen in 2010? I thought the Rambam was either a prediction or a speculation.

    As for anything changing, you brought down the Rambam that korbanot were commanded to deal with the beliefs and temptations in ancient Israel. Today and certainly when humanity comes to understand God is transcendental ( not even a dollop of immanence?) the reason for some mitzvoth like korbanot might no longer exist.

    How can you both ask the question you did about whether korbanot ARE going to be reinstated and say "the Torah will not change then or ever?"

    One last point...maybe the details of yemos hamashiach refers neither to a metzius or to a practise where halachos apply but is a construction of intellectual, can I say imaginitive, creation of a possible ideal future world. If it is, then each thinker is entitled to his dream.

  19. According to the US census survey there was 14.16 births/1,000 population (2007 est.). I am sure a halachik state it will be higher but lets just leave it at this rate. When we extrapolate this for 14 million people we get 198,240 births per year. Divide this by 365 we get an average of 543 births per day in which we need karbonos for. And this is just for childbirth! As for Korban Pesach the number are just get enormous.

  20. zb,

    while the logistics would definitly need to be worked out. They are not prohibitive. The gemara already discusses logistical innovations that were put in place for the pesah holiday. there is no reason that solutions would not be found for contemporary population sizes.


    I don't think anyone is "paskening" here. Its just a statement of opinions. I am sure everyone here would be willing to concede the posibility of mistake. (but women priests? come on! don't offend my patriarchal sensitivities here! ;) )

  21. (1) Yes, because if it were to stop, that would imply it was wrong in the first place. The Temple ritual was the central aspect of early Jewish life. This process is emphatically decreed in Torah as being from Hashem. A HUGE amount of space in the text describes how to do it. If this is not something that is good, then the whole concept of Revelation has to radically change if "facts clearly attributed to Hashem" turn out not to be.

    To me the great beauty of Judaism is in how there is a clear place to everything. Even if a given teaching isn't as important now as in the past, there is a harmony, a connection between the ideas and dedicated strivings of the people to understand the will of Hashem. Nothing was unnecessary and everything is needed badly eventually.

    Now, it could be possible that Judaism is _entirely_ about process. The advent of Mashiakh taken together with the proof that the ritual sacrifices were totally unnecesary and a human invention....this could be the course of some grand, unexpected transformation in humanity. But I'd rather there be just a bit more continuity than that. That content and process be in balance, not at war. In the face of the ineffibility of the divine, of course I default to temperment, in the end. even after binding temperment as tightly as I can with reason and logic.

    (2) Yes
    The miracle of life and death is dwelled on in birkhat hamazon in the second stanza. Everything gets an "average" lifetime...yet everything lives only because something else died (though this is an indirect bond in the case of things like plants and other sunlight-converters). Life relies on death, yet despite the greed and fear and cruelty this sort of system would seem to run on, yet it is not absolutely cruel. Yes, deer populations crashs and boom, many often dying by starvation. But if there is disease and starvation all the same..."it [the world] is good" . Animals play with different species. They show altruism despite incentives to the contrary. While pain is common, animals are more hardy in the face of it. Most of all, while some types of life make war on all others, most types don't. and evolution seems to want to nudge towards a greater diversity and density of life.

    To me, watching the sacrifice would be reminding us of the gravity of the negative stroke involved in this. Death is the basis of life. So our lives need to be as good as we can, that the death is not in vain. We need to accept we have needs to be selfish and take all we can. And curb those needs and bend them into taking _just_ what we need, and what is best for us, in the way it is best for us. Most of all, the peace offering is a special event. An act of simple, emphatic joy (for eating is one of the primal pleasures) to affirm we agree it is good to be alive, and that as we eat, we expect to be eaten. but not today :)

    And the memory of how big a deal it was to make these offerings. how much they gave up...that we don't give up because we are is a humbling thing to remind us "our offerings should overall weigh the same, and if not here at the altar, then in our deeds"

    I don't know how relevant my view is, as a crazy gentile (since by the studies you've invested a life in, there is no such thing as a convert to Judaism outside of Orthodox Judaism)...though I'll note I am striving to keep as much of the Law as I can. I am juggling and working with the basics: davening, kashrut, keeping the festivals, g'milut chasadim, ritual handwashing before food and after using the bathroom (I don't do any of these perfectly unfortunately but i make a discernible stab at them) I do a poor job keeping Shabbat but at least the day is differentiated in my mind and I do behave differently on that day. I have an awareness of many of the other big bits but its a bit academic at this point. I have a lot of problems. But when I pray "it is our life and length of days" I'm serious and I'm doing the best I can.

    So your call if my opinion matters.

  22. My answer is as follows:

    1. Yes but with the following proviso: I believe the sanhedrin will make major modifications to how this Mitzvah will be practiced. The basic Mitzvah can never change - Torah is not temporal - but the sanhedrin have the authority and the obligation to decide how it should be implemented. So I do not know the exact form it will take but that there will be animal offerings I have no doubt.

    2. Regarding my own personal feelings - I have to differentiate between the different offerings. I do not have a problem with the Korban Pessach - it makes sense that we do it yearly Zecher the Exodus. Generally I have no problem that when in Yerushalayim we do not eat meat without bringing a portion to the Beit hamikdash as an acknowledgement just like we make a Bracha and furthermore share it with the kohanim and the poor. This would be quite inspiring. I also have no problem with the ritualistic daily public offerings. I see them as a matter of pomp and general statements about God's ownership of all existence. I do have problems with Olot and Chata'ot especially the personal ones. There I have to agree with Barzilai who has so eloquently stated his hope for understanding if the Sanhedrin decide they have to continue as before.

    As a general statement - True Korbanot were implemented as an acceptance of the human condition just like all mitzvot are really such. God needs no Mitzvot and ideal man would not need any physical act to worship a transcendental God. Once however they were sanctioned, they become - as do all of the mitzvot - an eternal a priori obligatory form of worship. They are now Avodat Hashem as long as they are performed within the parameters of the Law. Even if what we think was the original reason for them no longer exists, the underlying reason we really do them is because it is a Tzivuy hashem and we are His servants. It is up to each one of us to find the personal reason that will make sense for each of us to do it. That process alone makes it into a rational Mitzvah. That is how I read Rambam at the end of Hilchot Me'ilah.

    Regarding my first answer and the sanhedrin - a personal reflection. I am very disheartened with the state of our contemporary Lomdim and talmidei chahchamim who supposedly are the candidates for a Sanhedrin. I think they are virtuosos non pareil in halachik discourse but they are far removed from Truth. Their lack of theological and philosophic grounding is apalling and the prevalence of mystical and spiritual nonsense is a major regression. i am therefore pessimistic that we are approaching the era of mashiach. Unfortunately I believe we are a long way off and until this imaginary "Kabbalah" which is nothing more than the fruit of fertile imaginations and has nothing to do with mesora and sinnaitic transmission, is eradicated from our midst, we will continue to flounder. Nevuah and Sanhedrin cannot come back in the present atmosphere. They can only come when their practitioners and members are grounded in reality, know the sciences and "all" knowledge from the theological perspective taught by Moshe which is the true Torah.

  23. Kendra - That was eloquent and touching.

    Email me if you so wish - I would love to understand some things that I don't think are appropriate in a public forum.

  24. “Once however they were sanctioned, they become - as do all of the mitzvot - an eternal a priori obligatory form of worship."

    Slowly...once they were commanded at a particular time and in a particular place, then it is a priori obligatory...aduh, if there was no maamad har sinai would they be required? And what is this “become" apriori? 2+2=4, an unquestionable a priori truth does not BECOME a priori as a result of an event in space and time, it is a priori irrespective of any contingent events. And what do you mean by "Torah is not temporal?" The patriarchs were not required to keep mitzvoth? Atemporal truths don't kick in at a specific time as a result of a specific covenant at a particular time binding both parties, as is the case of Torah, God and Israel.

    You claim korbanot were commanded because of the particular conditions at the time, AND the 'details' can be changed including abolishing most korbonot.But korbanot cannot be abolished because Torah cannot be changed.WADR that is double talk to save the appearances.

    Is God bound by His original commandments never to change the rules? Would this be rational, given the free will of humans? Shouldn't the future depend on the madreiga of those commanded? Is God bound by the Torah, this atemporal eternal object? Was it always this way? Beginning to sound like prologue to John in the NT.

    I am not familiar with the views of all the rishonim on this topic. I do note when Shabbsai Zevi showed up and Jews thought redemption was at hand, a certain amount of antinomianism was accepted. Certainly in the 150 years that followed many eminent rabbis who remained in the movement believed certain sexual prohibitions were abolished. And they were duped because of taavot and whatnot. Our case is one where there is no question that mashiach had arrived, however understood.

    I am ok with whatever is the accepted dogma, and I realize the need to distance Judaism from schismatic movements claiming new dispensations. I don’t know if there is a dogmatics here but I am willing to le

  25. David,
    I would be interested in your thoughts regarding RYBS' critique of Rambam's taamei hamitzvot in the end of Halachic Mind, given the above discussion.

  26. Neil Thank you for pointing me to that piece in halachik Man. I vaguely remember reading it once and not really understanding it. I reread it today and it was clear as day. RYBS really explains in his inimitable clarity what I said that once the law was established it became obligatory a priori. Ej objects to that term but it is correct. The act of mitzvah is now done whether the reason that originally was (possibly) its cause no longer exists. Finding a rationale is now reconstruction as the Rav so succinctly puts it. Thec reason we now find no longer can be seen as the cause behind the law but rather as the rationale explanation of what the law wants to accomplish.

    It is also noteworthy that in note 108 the rav compares Rambam's and Ramban's position on korbanot and he ignores Rambam in hilchot me'ilah which to me is even more compelling than Ramban's understanding. i wonder why?

  27. Look at how avodah changed until now
    Bamah then mishkan then bamah again. Then the movement of the mishkon throughout Israel(shiloh etc). Then the bais hamikdosh and now tefilah. When mashiach arrives who knows how avodah will change again andin what format. The key is that the sanhedrin must be involved in any changes.

    Evanston jew re:Is God bound by His original commandments never to change the rules? Would this be rational, given the free will of humans? Shouldn't the future depend on the madreiga of those commanded? Is God bound by the Torah, this atemporal eternal object? Was it always this way? Beginning to sound like prologue to John in the NT.
    I like to compare the Torah to the world. G-d is not bound to the laws of nature but chooses not to interfere. The same is true of the Torah-he is not bound but chooses that it be changed or adjusted only by man(sanhedrin)-torah lo beshamyim