• Slavery is bad, but Hashem didn't ban it, He regulated it (see start of Parshat Mishpatim).
  • Killing our own children is bad, but Hashem didn't ban it, He regulated it (Ben Sorer Umoreh, Ki Tetze).
  • Capturing women during war is bad, but Hashem didn't ban it, He regulated it (Eishet Yefat To'ar - see start of Ki Tetze).

I've heard it said that Hashem would have loved to have banned these practices completely, but that wouldn't have had an affect, so instead He, in His infinite wisdom, regulated them in a way that, like a time-release capsule, will work the right moral framework into our system and eventually we would stop these practices altogether.

I've even heard it by sacrifices. "Hashem doesn't particularly want sacrifices, but we really wanted to give Him something, so He made it into a well-regulated mitzva". I've even heard it about eating meat! In our lust for meat, He permitted it, but He doesn't exactly like it...

So, I would like to collect sources of opinions about this idea.

One of the questions I would like to answer along the way is how do these ideas gel with the concept that the Torah and its Mitzvot precede creation i.e. the Mitzvot are absolutely Hashem's Ratzon?

Thank you.

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  • G-d didn't ban killing our children???
    – Joel K
    Feb 8 at 15:24
  • @JoelK thanks for the MN source. I really appreciate it. I would like more still! See edit for your last comment
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 8 at 15:26
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    @RabbiKaii If by "when we do them", you mean according to our desire & not according to G-d's will as expressed through the mitzvot, then I would agree with you. But if you are trying to suggest that any of the mitzvot are terrible or "not good only", that is not in keeping with what the Torah teaches. All the requisites for each mitzvah must be present as described and are under Divine Providence. This is as the Ba'al Shem Tov teaches, "All of Creation, every moment of every day." Our choice is whether we "fear", meaning act, according to G-d's will. Make His will, your will, etc. Feb 9 at 14:51
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    Before the industrial age, most societies had to choose between using slave labor and food shortages. Agrarian societies couldn't make the economics work without it. Look when slavery ended in various places, and where they were up to in mechanizing their production. So, until about 150 years ago, leading us away from utilizing slave labor more cruelly than necessary was the least of evils. Feb 12 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


The Rambam expressed the general idea best when talking about animal sacrifices:

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, [as the Torah says,] “in the place which the Lord shall choose” [Deut. 12:26]. In no other place are we allowed to sacrifice. [The Torah says:] 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]

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