Why was it commanded that sin offerings and peace offerings had to be without blemish? Does this mean someone with moles is of lower value and less holy?


1 Answer 1


The Sefer HaChinuch explains (§286):

שרש המצוה נגלה, עם מה שהקדמנו למעלה, בענין הקרבנות על צד הפשט, שהם לעורר ולכון מחשבת בני איש אל השם ברוך הוא, כי האדם מתפעל בכח מעשיו, על כן ראוי על כל פנים להיות הקרבן בלי מום, כי מזמות בן אדם לא ינוחו ולא יתפשטו במין הפחות כמו בחשוב, כי הלבבות יתעוררו בחשוב ובשלם במינו יותר, וזה דבר ידוע לכל מבין.

For background, in §16, the Chinuch sets down a fundamental principle he applies in many (most?) of the Mitzvos from that point on: a man is influenced by his actions, so many Mitzvos were given in order that a person feel a certain way (about himself, about others, etc.), or be motivated in a certain way.

Based on this, he sets forth another foundation when he discusses the purpose of the Beis HaMikdash and Karbanos in §95: Rather than Hashem gaining anything from our Karbanos (which is impossible), it is we who gain from it. He discusses specifically what each type of Karban is meant to accomplish in great depth, but the main idea is that each one represents that one is willing to give himself over to Hashem, with the animal being a symbol for himself.

With these foundations, what he says here in §286 should be self-evident. If you’re trying to draw close to Hashem, how can one bring an inferior animal? One will be drawn after Him more greatly if he shows its importance to him by bringing a better animal; if he brings a blemished one, he shows that it’s worthless to him.

For the hearts are aroused in thought and in wholeness with a better specimen. This is known to anyone who can reason.

For what it’s worth, the Chinuch writes a similar reason in §277 regarding that the Kohanim can’t be blemished, in that case to increase the perceived importance of the Beis HaMikdash, for the same reasons as above:

משרשי המצוה. להגדיל כבוד הבית והדרה על כן אין ראוי לבוא שם בעל מום, כי הוא מקום השלמות, אינו בדין לעמד שם מי שיש בו שום חסרון. וכבר כתבתי למעלה (מצוה צה) הרבה פעמים התועלת הנמצא לנו בהגדילנו מעלת הבית הקדוש ותפארתו.

  • For historical background, if anyone looks at these quotes inside: In §285, he discusses the negative version of this commandment (not to give a blemished offering), while §286 discusses the positive version (to give an unblemished offering). In the original copies, the positive commandments were all grouped together, followed by the negative ones, and then arranged by Sidra; therefore, in §285, he refers to his comments “earlier” in §286. In newer editions, the Mitzvos are arranged strictly by Sidra and not by type, meaning that §286 ends up after §285.
    – DonielF
    Mar 28, 2019 at 16:18

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