I seem to recall hearing that the Rambam stated somewhere that animal sacrifices were not necessary from G-d's point of view, but that He decided to institute them because of what the Israelites were used to. Anyone know which text this is or if I've miss attributed it?


The Rambam writes as much in Moreh Nevochim 3:32. It is slightly expanded upon in 3:46.

As an aside, it should be considered with the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Me'ila, which many understand to be a contradiction to that. (For a brief discussion of this point, see here, although it's far from a complete treatment of the issue.)

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    an elaboration would be nice... (especially since there are different versions of that last halakha in Me'ilah) – הנער הזה Jan 29 '15 at 5:47
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    3:46 focuses more on how HaShem designed the sacrificial service to be different from the manner of idolatrous sacrificial worship. In 3:32, the Rambam explains his view on the basic principle mentioned in the OP. Also, I think Hil. T'mura (4:13) sufficiently reconciles the two sources mentioned in your answer; although people shouldn't presume to fully fathom the reason behind a chok statute, it is good to try to propose Torah-consistent reasoning as a partial and tentative explanation. P.S. יום הולדת שמח. – Fred Jan 29 '15 at 6:58
  • a rule one has to remember, whenever the rambam contradicts himself in mt and mora navuchim, we go by mora navuchim for it is his last work. – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Jan 29 '15 at 7:21
  • @Matt If that had been the question, I would have elaborated. As is, it just asked for the source. I think you and I actually elaborated on this elsewhere on this site. – Y     e     z Jan 29 '15 at 19:24
  • @YeZ I thought so too, and discussion of R. Yaakov Kamenetsky. Link? – הנער הזה Jan 29 '15 at 19:26

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