This module contains one key debate amongst the various classical commentaries of Chumash.
Korbanot play a central role in this Parsha. The concept of animal sacrifice is a little foreign to us and may be difficult to appreciate. There are a few different explanations amongst the commentators about why korbanot are featured so prominently in the Torah.
|The Rambam proposes the radical idea that korbanot were introduced to Judaism specifically because they were a major part of pagan religions at the time the Torah was given.
God wanted the Jews to abandon their pagan influences but was worried about cutting them off “cold-turkey”. Instead, God instituted korbanot as a way to wean the Jewish people off of their pagan forms of worship.
|The Ramban doesn’t appreciate the Rambam reducing korbanot to pagan adaptations. The Ramban sees korbanot as supremely holy actions and an ideal form of serving God.
He explains that a korban, especially one brought because of a sin, is a vehicle of bringing yourself closer to God by identifying with the animal being slaughtered. By bringing a korban the owner is saying that they, like the animal in question, would be willing to give up their life in the service of God.