Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sacrifices and Vegetarians

One of the controversial aspects of discussing the (imminent) rebuilding of our Holy Temple is that of the sacrificial service.  Many Jews unfortunately do not yearn for a return of the Shechina to Yerushalayim. Even many of those that do are fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of sacrifices in "this day and age".
Yet on closer examination, there seems to be a double standard at play here.  Many of the folks who think the sacrificial service is outdated and shouldn't be restored might pontificate that view over a nice steak or plate of ribs.  Possibly they would enjoy chicken wings to go while explaining how a good part of the Torah should be tossed into the dustbin of history.
There's an old saying that people who enjoy cold cuts and the law shouldn't watch either being made.  In our sanitary society where meat is something that comes shrink-wrapped in a package, all clean and ready for cooking, we have forgotten the mess it takes to get it to that stage.  We have no trouble eating beef but the idea of watching a cow getting killed, sliced up and then offered on an altar seem to be repulsive.  It almost makes one want to be a vegetarian.
Except that this also isn't much of a solution.  As Rav Dov Lior recently noted, Rav Kook, zt"l already pointed out years ago that a humankind that isn't prepared to show mercy and love unconditionally to one another isn't ready to embrace the concept of vegetarianism out of compassion.  According to Rav Kook, it would only be in the future when humanity is raised up spiritually to see the spark of holiness that is an intrinsic part of all life that vegetarianism, not out of compassion for animals but rather because of an awareness of that holiness, would be in order.  Until then we would eat meat as part of the natural order of things.  And if we're going to eat meat, how are sacrifices any worse other than forcing us to confront the part of our dietary needs we don't want to see?

21 comments:

The Way said...

I am all for bringing back sacrifices. There is no need for a temple in order to bring sacrifice, that law was instituted either to protect the law (according to the rabbis) or to protect the rabbis (according to me).

Regardless, I don't get the argument that because the world isn't compassionate one should not try to be better. I don't agree that vegetarianism is about compassion, but the Rabbi who says so seems to be arguing that you don't have to behave well until everybody else and you really mean it and behave that way already.

A maxim in Jewish lore" en lishma ba lishma" even if you don't mean it, do it and eventually you will mean it.

And in this case it seems to be, don't do it until you mean it. Wouldn't you want people to emulate behavior that you think is better than current behavior? even if they don't really really mean it. Maybe the rabbi could advise people to lessen their meat consumption or some other step. etc.

Garnel Ironheart said...

First of all, the maxim is somewhat different. In English, a person should always learn Torah even if for ulterior reasons, because from starting with ulterior reasons he will eventually come to learn Torah l'shma, for its own sake.

Rav Lior's argument, and that of Rav Kook before him, is that if we are going to worry about being nice, our first priority should be good behaviour towards our fellow human beings. I think this is an important goal that has been forgotten nowadays.

As for sacrifice, no you don't need a standing Temple to bring sacrifices but you do need to bring sacrifices where the Temple once stood and we don't actually have possession of that spot right now.

The Way said...

forgive the mangling of this phrase, naaleh bkodesh vlo yeridah, we go up in holiness and not down. Or as a friend of mine said, you grow into the clothes you wear, so if you wear a nice suit you behave better.

So too, according to the Rabbi's logic, even though one does not treat others so great all the time, if one were also a vegetarian, or cut back on their meat consumption, that would raise their overall level of compassion and humanity.

Shouldn't one try their best at every issue? A rising tide lifts all boats.

and now I am done with repeating sayings.

The Way said...

as for the sacrifices, the law of having sacrifices only on te temple (or area where it stood) is a drabonon which I think circumvents the torah.

The torah was pretty clear on letting anyone anywhere have a mzbeach. Much like the rabbis made lots of restrictive laws for all sorts of reasons, given that we have no temple and no temple area, the law should revert to the torah law.

Off the Derech said...

Translation: Garnel wants blood.

Garnel Ironheart said...

I don't think we (me and The Way, not OTD) are disagreeing. Rav Lior seems to be saying that claiming being a vegetarian makes you a more moral person is meaningless in the absence of developing a greater sensitivity to other humans and their needs. I would think that he'd agree that if being a vegetarian makes you a more moral member of society all around that by all means forgo the beef.

I do disagree about the location of the mizbeach. The Torah clearly states that once the Jews have established a Temple, all outside sacrificial worship becomes forbidden in perpetuity. The leniency of the bamah, the personal altar, is condemned all throughout the Bible which predates the Chazal.

Shalmo said...

I don't think its fair to our muslim cousins to take down their mosque. Not when the rabbis agreed to hand it over to the Caliph Umer to biuld that mosque in the first place

Shalmo said...

Garnel here is what I don't get.

The Prophets repeatedly bash sacrifices.

The entire Tanakh is filled with prophets bashing sacrifices, with the prophets saying prayer and repetence is superior to sacrifices.

(Prov. 16:6)
(Isa. 55: 6-7)
(Eze.18:21:23)

there is nothing in any of these passages about God needing either blood or sacrifice to forgive sins. Proverbs 16:6 shows mercy and truth suffice just as well. And Isaiah 55: 5-7 and Ezekial 18:21-23 say repentence and good works can forgive sins as well. As Isaiah in the above passage says "he will have mercy on him" and "he will freely pardon".

Furthermore there are explicit passages saying God no longer wants sacrifices:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require." (Ps. 40:6)

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51: 16-17)

The above is David's prayer for repentence for his so-called adulterous affair with Baathsheba (of course this whole adulterous affair is false jewish scribal propaganda, but that is another topic). Anyway in this prayer you will notice no blood, no sacrifice, no Jesus. The passage says the sacrifice of God are instead a "broken spirt; a broken and contrite heart" meaning turning to God with sincere repentence does the job just fine.

In fact turn to 2 Samuel 12:13 where the prophet Nathan discusses with David his so-called sin and tells him "Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die."

Here David says he has sinned against Yahweh and Nathan responds Yahweh has forgiven. No blood was shed, no sacrifice took and no mention of Jesus is made. All it took was David's confession and sincere repentence.

Some more passages that contradict blood atonement:

"Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." These verses show "explicitly that cleansing from sin may be achieved by a contrite heart". (Ps. 51:16-19 [14-17 KJV])

1 Kings 8:44-52. In this prayer of Solomon, "prayer is given prominence as a means for remission of sin."

So if prayer and sincere repentence are super methods of forgiving sin as the Tanakh claims, then why do we have to go back to sacrificial atonement at all? Should we not just stick with the superior method?

The Way said...

Garnel, yes the torah is specific that when there is a temple that is where sacrifices should be held. But there is no reason from the torah to say that if there is no temple or mishkan then people cannot revert back to personal alters.

As for less meat=more compassion, wasn't hitler a vegetarian? so i don't buy the theory in general. Either way, I am sure the animals are not holding their breath and waiting for their pink hairless monkey cousins to start behaving better to each other.

David said...

It's possible to be a meat-eater and oppose sacrifices without being (contrary to your implication) an abject hypocrite. One might simply hold the view (as, I believe, did the Rambam) that animal sacrifice is an outmoded form of worship that was appropriate in its day, but is no longer so. Or, to be more blunt about it, one might view the whole thing as barbaric, and believe that being in a slaughter-house is not conducive to prayer or spirituality.

www.thewaytonothing.blogspot.com said...

I dunno David, the Lord seemed pretty sure of himself and devoted a good part of the book to animal sacrifice. Unless one admits that the whole thing is really for people and not for god, then I dont see how you can decide what god likes or doesnt

SJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJ said...

>> The Prophets repeatedly bash sacrifices.

>> The entire Tanakh is filled with prophets bashing sacrifices, with the prophets saying prayer and repetence is superior to sacrifices.

>> (Prov. 16:6) (Isa. 55: 6-7) (Eze.18:21:23)


Shalmo lay off the weed. None of these 3 verses are on the subject of of prayer and repentance being superior or not to sacrifices.



In Chronicles 1 chp. 21, David does indeed do sacrifice of repentance.


It's Judaism 101.000000000001 that prayer was put in given a muuuuuch greater emphasis to replace the temple sacrifices.

Shalmo said...

Sorry SJ but you aint dealing with the verses:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require." (Ps. 40:6)

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51: 16-17)

The Bible repeatedly says God no longer wants sacrifices, he wants sincere prayer and repentence. So why bother rebiulding a temple to reinstate the sacrificial system, when prayers and repentence already serve as a superior method of forgiveness?

And if prayer and repentence were not superior to sacrifices, then why bother introducing prayers to replace sacrifices in the first place? Why tell the people to start praying instead of sacrificing?

SJ said...

Both psalms 40 and 51 were written by David and he offered at least one sacrifice.

SJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shalmo said...

AGAIN:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require." (Ps. 40:6)

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51: 16-17)

Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of G-d with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. [31] [This] also shall please the LORD better than an ox [or] bullock that hath horns and hoofs. (KJV)

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright [is] His delight. [9] The way of the wicked [is] an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness. (KJV)

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (KJV)

Isaiah 58:3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. (KJV)

Isaiah 58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? (KJV)

See also Jeremiah 4:1-2, 7:3, 7:22-23, 25:5, 26:3-6, 36:3, 36:7, and 50:20!

no one is saying sacrifices were not offered. the point being made is that the god of the bible no longer wants sacrifices, hence why the writers keep saying YHWH does not want sacrifices, he wants their lips aka their prayers.

If he wants prayers instead of sacrifices, then frankly what is the point of a rebiult temple?

And since you are now a christian, you may as well know the above passage of prayer and repentance used to forgive sins pretty much make Jesus committing suicide on the cross as useless as the temple. Since again sacrifices are no longer need when prayer and repentence are a superior forgiveness for YHWH.

The Way said...

If we say (for the sake of argument)that the torah is written by god, then why would anything david said in psalms be as valid as god's words?

Why would a shepard turned warrior turned king turned poet be more reliable than god?

And if people can come around and say that despite the book that god no longer means it and now wants or doesn't want this new behavior, then why is the torah at all valid anymore?

SJ said...

None of these verses say that sacrifices are pointless.


As far as the Christian argument is concerned, I believe it can be summed up as saying that the weaknesses of human nature entails the need of a savior to take the heat for us.

Shalmo said...

SJ you blind as a bat or just being an idiot:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require." (Ps. 40:6)

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51: 16-17)

These passages and various others show YHWH no longer wants sacrifices but prayer instead. In Hosea it says YHWH is full with the fat of rams and wants their lips (prayers) instead

The only reason you are defending sacrifices is because Christianity needs Jesus to committ suicide to forgive sins.

Shalmo said...

"The Way" you asked good questions, however the Tanakh is the will of YHWH and inconsistencies in it show just how non-divine it is

Later hebrew theology seeks replacement of sacrifices with prayers because the later clearly makes more sense than the sacrificial system

My argument is if God no longer needs sacrifices and prefers prayers, then why do the other prophets say a future temple will be rebiult? Would that not be going back in the spiritual evolution of Judaism? Do you see the inconsistency?