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I am trying to integrate all the facts and thoughts listed below to answer the following question:

Should I hope for the resumption of animal sacrifices?

1-Prayers for rebuilding the Temple and resuming sacrifices are in our liturgy. For example, Amidah blessing 17 [Avodah] says:

Restore the service to the Holy of Holies of your Temple. Accept the fire offerings and the prayer of Israel with love.

Ishei Yisrael -- the fires of Israel -- refers to sacrifices, but the Talmud also uses that expression to refer to 'the righteous of Israel' [Menachot 110a]. Rabbi Soloveitchik believed it refers to our martyrs, the human “self-sacrifices” we have been forced to make in history, l’kiddush HaShem.

2-Many prophets told us again and again: It's not your sacrifices God wants. But they did not try to abolish them.

3-The Rambam taught that sacrifices were not meant to last indefinitely:

The custom in those days among all men…consisted in sacrificing animals. God did not command us to give up these services; for this would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used. Sacrifices [however] are not the primary object [of the commandments about sacrifice], prayers are. [To wit,] we were not commanded to sacrifice in every place, and in every time, or to build a Temple in every place, or to allow anybody to become a priest and sacrifice. Only one Temple has been appointed, and only] "in the place which the Lord shall choose" (Deut. 12:26). In no other place are we allowed to sacrifice: "Be careful not to give your burnt-offerings in every place that you see" (Deut. 12:13); and only the members of a particular family were allowed to officiate as priests. All these restrictions served to limit this kind of worship. But prayer and supplication can be offered everywhere and by every person. Because of this, the Prophets rebuke people for being over-zealous in bringing sacrifices. [Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed), 3:32]

4-But in his halachic writings, the Rambam upholds the traditional vision of the future:

The Messiah... will build the Holy Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel... All the laws of the Torah will be reinstated as before; the sacrifices will be offered, the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee instituted as outlined in the Torah. [Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 11-12]

5-The Ramban disagreed and taught that sacrifices had intrinsic value.

6- Israeli rabbis and the secular government are united in banning Jewish visits to Temple Mount. At the gate, you see the sign:

Entrance to the area of the Temple Mount is forbidden to everyone by Jewish Law owing to the sacredness of the place. Signed: The Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Why? Because rabbis have declared all Jews to be in a state of ritual impurity (tamei), so they must not come close to the Holy of Holies, which is in that area but we don't know exactly where. The rabbis also declared: No exploration, excavation, or prayer on Temple Mount. Jews are even forbidden to fly over it. The ban will stay in effect until Messiah comes.

Only a para adumah (red heifer) can remove our state of impurity. We haven't had one for 2,000 years, and all candidates have been rejected by the rabbis (the last I know of was in 2002). The Rambam says that the tenth and last will be prepared by the Messiah [Yad, Parah Adumah 3:4] Some cynics have argued that the rarity of red heifers and the presence of the Islamic Mosque on Temple Mount gives Jews an excuse not to rebuild the Temple.

7-The Midrash says: In the messianic age, all sacrifices will be discontinued, except for the thanksgiving offering. [Vayikra Rabbah 9:7]

8-Studying the Torah without sacrificing animals may be enough. In the Talmud, God says:

Whenever people read the order of the sacrifices in the Torah, I will deem it as if they had offered them before me, and I will grant them pardon for all their iniquities. [Taanit 27b]

In the Midrash, God tells Ezekiel:

Learning in the Torah about the description of My House is as great as building it. Go and tell the Jewish people to occupy themselves in learning about the Temple, and in that merit I will consider it as if they are actually involved in building it. [Midrash Tanchuma, Tzav 14; Yalkut Shemoni on Ezekiel 43:10-11 (382).]

9-Two thoughts from me: (1) Even though I am not a vegetarian, it makes sense that, if you are going to eat meat, you should see with your own eyes exactly where the meat comes from. (2) Rebuilding the Temple and offering animal sacrifices are separate issues: The rebuilt Temple could be a splendid super-yeshiva and super-synagogue, but not a site for animal sacrifices.

Question: To help me reach a conclusion, do you know of any relevant facts, sources or expert opinions not covered above?

  • "Rabbi Soloveitchik believed it refers to our martyrs": I think the Taz said so – msh210 Aug 11 at 20:45
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Your question brings me to tears, and I know you are not the only one who has questions about the future reinstatement of the korbanos. You have asked the question very honestly and in an even-handed way. Let me address some of your points.

2) In Shmuel (I 15:22) for example, the prophet says to King Shaul:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל הַחֵ֤פֶץ לַֽיהוָה֙ בְּעֹל֣וֹת וּזְבָחִ֔ים כִּשְׁמֹ֖עַ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה הִנֵּ֤ה שְׁמֹ֙עַ֙ מִזֶּ֣בַח ט֔וֹב לְהַקְשִׁ֖יב מֵחֵ֥לֶב אֵילִֽים׃

And Shemuel said, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

That is to say, sacrifices are good, but it is better to listen to the commandments that to go out of your way to bring better sacrifices. This, I believe, is the thrust of all the places that the prophets speak against bringing sacrifices.

3) Reb Yaakov Kaminetzki's explanation of the Rambam is brought here. In short, we don't know the reasons for many mitzvos, for example all of the sacrifices, and the Rambam was giving one possible rationale, not the only reason. So sacrifices will be reinstated for their other, hidden reasons.

6) The Rabbinate tells people not to go to the Temple Mount because an impure visitor is the worst of all sins (Tosefta Shvuos 1:2).

היה ר"ש אומר קשה טומאת מקדש וקדשיו מכל עבירות שבתורה

If, however, one were going to bring sacrifices, that can be done by a kohen who is impure if there is no one who is pure (pesachim 77a).

(The secular government is against sacrifices because the temple is the antithesis of modern liberal values. This is not the right place to elaborate.)

7) The medrash there (Vayikra rabah 9:7) says more fully:

רַבִּי פִּנְחָס וְרַבִּי לֵוִי וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי מְנַחֵם דְּגַלְיָא, לֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא כָּל הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת בְּטֵלִין וְקָרְבַּן תּוֹדָה אֵינוֹ בָּטֵל, כָּל הַתְּפִלּוֹת בְּטֵלוֹת, הַהוֹדָאָה אֵינָהּ בְּטֵלָה

Rabbi Pinchas, Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Yochanan [said] in the name of Rabbi Menachem from Gallia: In the time to come, all sacrifices will be annulled - but the sacrifice of thanksgiving will not be annulled. All prayers will be annulled, but the prayer of gratitude will not be annulled.

Just as we understand that prayer will not be annulled, sacrifices will not be annulled. The medrash means that they will be insignificant compared to thanksgiving. (This is the common usage of ביטול, overwhelmed by the majority.)

8) The Mishna in Avos (1:17) states:

שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ אוֹמֵר... וְלֹא הַמִּדְרָשׁ הוּא הָעִקָּר, אֶלָּא הַמַּעֲשֶׂה.

Shimon, his son, used to say:... Study is not the most important thing, but actions.

In some way the recitation of the commandment of the sacrifices is a substitute for the actual offering, but it can not possibly be a replacement.

  • Mordechai You say it "brings me to tears." Same with me, every time I read about the sacrifices will return and kill innocent animals. You would not sacrifice your pet or your son or daughter. Why then should an innocent animal pay the price of your sins? We reject Jesus for this very reason! For the father shall not pay the price of son or vice-versa. Refer to my answer about why sacrifices will never return. For many rabbis say - and I agree with them - that in the New Temple, they will be no place for sacrifices. Period. – Turk Hill Aug 25 at 23:48
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    @TurkHill I would definitely sacrifice my pet. Your equating a pet and a child is absolutely disgusting. – Double AA Aug 26 at 0:22
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    I'd even wager most readers here are not vegan and regularly sacrifice animals for their needs. It's those who think only animals that live near them are worth saving that are being hypocritical. Eating cow is ok but eating dog is offensive? Most people with non-medical pets would be much better served investing in raising a human. They don't die as quickly and do much more good in the world when trained properly. – Double AA Aug 26 at 1:45
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    @Turk animal lives are worth less than humans. ורדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובכל הרמש הרומש על הארץ. We are the kings and we need to run our kingdom like good kings, not selfish shortsighted tyrants. But we are still a qualitative step above them. God made man last since he is the goal of creation. – Double AA Aug 26 at 1:49
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    @TurkHill you're changing your story. First you said that G-d commanded sacrifices as a concession to human needs. That's not the only possible explanation, but it's reasonable. Then you said that therefore, if humans don't need them, we shouldn't obey this commandment. Not so reasonable, but let's move on. Now you're saying that even someone who does feel this need and therefore brings sacrifices is an evil murderer and it's equivalent to human sacrifice. Then why did G-d allow them in the first place? – Heshy Aug 26 at 12:59
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Our prayers are full of yearning to once again be able to joyfully ascend Temple Mount and continue the Temple Sacrifices.

Shabbos Mussaf:

תכנת שבת רצית קרבנותיה צוית פרושיה עם סדורי נסכיה. מענגיה לעולם כבוד ינחלו טועמיה חיים זכו וגם האוהבים דבריה גדלה בחרו אז מסיני נצטוו עליה ותצונו ה' אלהינו להקריב בה קרבן מוסף שבת כראוי. יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שתעלנו בשמחה לארצנו ותטענו בגבולנו ושם נעשה לפניך את קרבנות חובותינו תמידים כסדרם ומוספים כהלכתם ואת מוסף יום השבת הזה נעשה ונקריב לפניך באהבה כמצות רצונך כמו שכתבת עלינו בתורתך על ידי משה עבדך מפי כבודך כאמור - מוסף שבת

Yom Tov Mussaf:

אבינו מלכנו גלה כבוד מלכותך עלינו מהרה והופע והנשא עלינו לעיני כל חי. וקרב פזורינו מבין הגוים ונפוצותינו כנס מירכתי ארץ והביאנו לציון עירך ברנה ולירושלים בית מקדשך בשמחת עולם ושם נעשה לפניך את קרבנות חובותינו תמידים כסדרם ומוספים כהלכתם, ואת מוסף יום חג הזה, נעשה ונקריב לפניך באהבה כמצות רצונך. כמו שכתבת עלינו בתורתך על ידי משה עבדך - מוסף שלש רגלים

Amidah:

רצה ה' אלהינו בעמך ישראל ובתפלתם והשב את העבודה לדביר ביתך. ואשי ישראל ותפלתם באהבה תקבל ברצון. ותהי לרצון תמיד עבודת ישראל עמך

All the above prayers explicitly declare our aspiration to continue sacrificing in the Beis Hamikdash.

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    I don't see how this answers the question. All you're doing is elaborating on the first point [of view] in the question, without responding to the other points which seem to oppose or dismiss it. – Tamir Evan Aug 11 at 14:00
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    @TamirEvan - Question: To help me reach a conclusion, do you know of any relevant facts, sources or expert opinions not covered above? The question didn't ask for reconciliation of his sources, he asked for other relevant facts sources or opinions. – chortkov2 Aug 11 at 14:06
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    He mentions, in his first point, prayers in our liturgy asking for rebuilding the temple and resuming the sacrifices. What do you add in the aswer, beyond elaboration, that's not covered by that? – Tamir Evan Aug 11 at 14:23
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No, we should not. G-d neither needs nor wants sacrifices, and only allowed it because people in ancient times felt differently. It is a concession to human needs. The Rambam also states that this is not only his view but is the view of the prophets.



We can add that the ancient rabbis around 70 CE when the temple was destroyed also felt that sacrifices were unnecessary. Therefore when the temple was destroyed, they did not seek a way to continue sacrifices. It would have been easy for them to do so if they felt it was necessary. 



Of course, as is to be expected, many rabbis disagreed. We still have many references in the siddur praying for the restoration of sacrifices. But the siddur is a compendium of many often conflicting ideas, which prompt us to think and to remember the past. Abravanel agrees with Maimonides and cites a Midrash.

Additionally, Rabbi Kook and the Midrash states that grain will be offered in the Third Temple.

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