Up for Debate

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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.