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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?

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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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