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If it has been established that sacrifices are not needed for atonement, then why do we need to reinstate the Temple?

Jeremiah 7:22-23 "For neither did I speak with your forefathers nor did I command them on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning a burnt offering or a sacrifice. 23 But this thing did I command them, saying: Obey Me so that I am your God and you are My people, and you walk in all the ways that I command you, so that it may be well with you"

Proverbs 21:3 "Performing charity and justice is preferred by God to a sacrifice."

Psalms 40:7 "You desired neither sacrifice nor meal offering; You dug ears for me; a burnt offering or a sin offering You did not request."

Rashi explains in his commentary of Psalms 40:7 as meaning "..but I did not require it as an obligation to burden you", i.e sacrifice is merely optional.

So time and time again God expresses his discontent with sacrifices in light of the much higher importance of clinging to his laws.

Why is the Temple then altogether needed? and why is it associated with the redemption of the Jewish people?

  • Because part of the laws are the sacrifices at the mishkan. – sabbahillel Jun 5 '17 at 10:33
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    This presumes that there are no sacrifices other than for atonement, that a substitute system is as good as the original, and that a communal spiritual/religious center is limited in function to only one of its components. – rosends Jun 5 '17 at 10:36
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    Regardless of atonement, God explains that pleasing via obedience is superior to sacrifice (which also happens to include atonement). – RandomUser Jun 5 '17 at 11:15
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    Korban pesach is still a big one that EVERY JEW is commanded to do and we cannot without the Temple – Mennyg Jun 5 '17 at 12:53
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    @RandomUser "obedience" includes doing ALL of G-d's commandments. Many of which are sacrifices. – Mennyg Jun 5 '17 at 12:54
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The quotations used are designed to show that Korbanot are not the principal method of atonement, nor are they set up to overshadow the other halachot. However those karbanot that are required must be performed according to the halacha. as we see in Rambam Hilchos Melachim 11:1

In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel.

Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah.

Examples would be the Korbon Pesach, the Korbon Chagiga required on the three Pilgrimage Festivals, the Korbon Tamid, and the Musafim of the Shabbat and special days.

Thus, even if no-one would sin (to require a korbon chatos) or even bring any voluntary offering (such as a todah), there would still be korbanos required.

As Rashi says on Yirmiyahu 7:22

on the day I brought them forth: The beginning of the condition was only (Exodus 19: 5): “If you hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me.”

Which includes all the commandments (which include sacrifices as well as acting correctly).

Similarly, Machon Mamare explains

Some who support the claim that Rambam and Rav Kook believe animal sacrifice will have no place in the Third Temple attempt to argue that sacrifices were always a concession and that God actually disdains the practice. Examples of oft-cited verses from Tanach that they use are: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” (Isaiah 1:11); “For I spoke not unto your fathers . . . concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifice. But this thing I commanded them: ‘Obey My voice and I will be your God’” (Jeremiah 7:21); “For I [God] desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings” (Hosea 6:6) and many others. But as is evident when reading the verses in context, the prophets are not railing against sacrifices per se, but rather against sacrifices that are not accompanied by compassion for others and knowledge of God. In fact, these very same prophets, Ezekiel in particular, prophesized about the renewal of the sacrificial order.16

It is clear that animal sacrifices have deep spiritual value. Each one of the Avot brought animal sacrifices. In numerous places throughout Nach, the prophets express their longing for the restoration of the Temple service. Finally, the Talmud takes it as a given that sacrifices will be reinstated.

So will there be sacrifices in the Third Temple? The overwhelming majority opinion is that there will be. Rambam and Rav Kook seem to share this view. It should be noted that while Rav Kook envisioned the restoration of the sacrificial rite, in his view, that period would also include a return of prophecy and the Divine spirit to the nation.

16 See Jacob Chinitz, “Were the Prophets Opposed to Sacrifice?,” Jewish Bible Quarterly 36 (April-June 2008):2,.

The problem was that people regarded korbanot in a way similar to the pagan idea of a magical action that would automatically bring atonement even if the halachos of the Torah were ignored. This is what the quoted citations in the question were referring to.

The context, the Soncino says, makes it evident that a contrast is drawn between offerings on the altar and the moral laws enjoined in the Decalogue. True, continual burnt-offerings were obligatory upon the community, not upon the individual, but the prophet's scorn for the misplaced emphasis upon sacrifice is not to be taken as a rejection of the sacrificial system as a whole.

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    It's not just pagan's who relate to religion as magical action - 'Take three "Hail Mary's" and call me in the morning...' :) – Isaac Kotlicky Jun 5 '17 at 12:07
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    @isaac or recite some verses about manna for x days straight – Double AA Jun 5 '17 at 14:04
  • I understand that many of these verses were said in the context of the Israelites using it as a replacement for good deeds, rather than a supplement to their good deeds. But does your answer still not contradict what is said in Jeremiah that God did not command the Israelites "concerning a burnt offering or a sacrifice"? – RandomUser Jun 6 '17 at 9:40
  • @RandomUser If taken literally, this would mean that sacrifices were not commanded in the Torah. However, we see the explicit commands to sacrifice in the Torah, so it cannot be that. The context, the Soncino says, makes it evident that a contrast is drawn between offerings on the altar and the moral laws enjoined in the Decalogue. True, continual burnt-offerings were obligatory upon the community, not upon the individual, but the prophet's scorn for the misplaced emphasis upon sacrifice is not to be taken as a rejection of the sacrificial system as a whole. – sabbahillel Jun 6 '17 at 11:27
  • @RandomUser Yirmiyahu 7:22 starts on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt which means that even though scrifices are commanded in the Torah, the initial redemption was to serve Hashem in every way he commanded and to follow all the laws of the Torah. This is to show as Rashi says on the day I brought them forth: The beginning of the condition was only (Exodus 19: 5): “If you hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me.” – sabbahillel Jun 6 '17 at 11:55

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