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Korban (Hebrew: "sacrifice" קרבן) (plural: Korbanot קרבנות), in Judaism, is the term for a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Torah. Such sacrifices were offered in a variety of settings by the ancient Israelites, and later by the Jewish priesthood, the Kohanim, at the Temple in Jerusalem. A Korban was usually an animal sacrifice, such as a sheep or a bull that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter), and was often cooked and eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the Kohanim and parts burned on the Temple mizbe'ah (altar). Korbanot could also consist of doves, grain, wine, or incense.

The Torah narrates that God commanded the Jewish People to offer korbanot on various altars, and describes the offering of sacrifices in the Tabernacle and in the Temple in Jerusalem until the First Temple was destroyed and resumed with the Second Temple until it was destroyed in 70 CE.

The practice of sacrifice in Judaism mostly ended with the destruction of the Temple, although it was briefly reinstated during the Jewish-Roman Wars of the 2nd Century CE and was continued in certain communities thereafter.[1] Rabbinic Judaism continued to maintain that the Torah allowed observance of Jewish law without animal sacrifice based upon oral tradition and strong support from scripture, such as Psalms 51:16-19 and Hosea 6:6. However, the practice and nature of Korbanot continue to have relevance to Jewish theology and law, particularly in Orthodox Judaism.


Korbanot were practiced from earliest times, particularly for over one thousand years in the Tabernacle and during the eras of the Temple of Solomon and the Second Temple in Jerusalem when the Israelites lived in the Land of Israel until the destruction of Judea, Jerusalem, and the Temple by the Roman Empire approximately two thousand years ago in the year 70 CE.

The korbanot are mentioned in all five books of the Torah outlining their origins and history, and then in the later books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Every regular weekday, Shabbat, and each Jewish holiday had its own unique korbanot.

Role of the kohen (priest)

The Kohanim ("priests") performed the korbanot rituals first in the ancient Tabernacle and then in the Temple of Solomon (the first Temple in Jerusalem) and later in the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew Bible describes them as patrilineal descendants of Aaron who meet certain marriage and ritual purity requirements.

The Kohen Gadol in particular played a crucial role in this regard on Yom Kippur, a day when multiple korbanot were offered.

Scriptural references

In the Book of Leviticus

The Book of Leviticus[2] contains the details of each korban. In classical rabbinic literature it is sometimes known as Torat kohanim, the "Law [book of the] Priests". It delineates the roles both of the kohen ("priest") and the Kohen Gadol ("High Priest").

Belonging to the 613 commandments

About one hundred of the permanent 613 mitzvot based on the Torah (Pentateuch) itself, concern the korbanot, according to Maimonides, (excluding those mitzvot that concern the actual Temple and the kohanim themselves of which there are about another fifty):

  1. Not to burn anything on the Golden Altar besides incense (Exodus 30:9)
  2. To offer only unblemished animals (Leviticus 22:21)
  3. Not to dedicate a blemished animal for the altar (Leviticus 22:20)
  4. Not to slaughter it (Leviticus 22:22)
  5. Not to sprinkle its blood (Leviticus 22:24)
  6. Not to burn its Chelev (Leviticus 22:22)
  7. Not to offer a temporarily blemished animal (Deuteronomy 17:1)
  8. Not to sacrifice blemished animals even if offered by non-Jews (Leviticus 22:25)
  9. Not to inflict wounds upon dedicated animals (Leviticus 22:21)
  10. To redeem dedicated animals which have become disqualified (Deuteronomy 12:15)
  11. To offer only animals which are at least eight days old (Leviticus 22:27)
  12. Not to offer animals bought with the wages of a harlot or the animal exchanged for a dog (Deuteronomy 23:19)
  13. Not to burn honey or yeast on the altar (Leviticus 2:11)
  14. To salt all sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13)
  15. Not to omit the salt from sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13)
  16. Carry out the procedure of the burnt offering as prescribed in the Torah (Leviticus 1:3)
  17. Not to eat its meat (Deuteronomy 12:17)
  18. Carry out the procedure of the sin offering (Leviticus 6:18)
  19. Not to eat the meat of the inner sin offering (Leviticus 6:23)
  20. Not to decapitate a fowl brought as a sin offering (Leviticus 5:8)
  21. Carry out the procedure of the guilt offering (Leviticus 7:1)
  22. The kohanim must eat the sacrificial meat in the Temple (Exodus 29:33)
  23. The kohanim must not eat the meat outside the Temple courtyard (Deuteronomy 12:17)
  24. A non-kohen must not eat sacrificial meat (Exodus 29:33)
  25. To follow the procedure of the peace offering (Leviticus 7:11)
  26. Not to eat the meat of minor sacrifices before sprinkling the blood (Deuteronomy 12:17)
  27. To bring meal offerings as prescribed in the Torah (Leviticus 2:1)
  28. Not to put oil on the meal offerings of wrongdoers (Leviticus 5:11)
  29. Not to put frankincense on the meal offerings of wrongdoers (Leviticus 3:11)
  30. Not to eat the meal offering of the High Priest (Leviticus 6:16)
  31. Not to bake a meal offering as leavened bread (Leviticus 6:10)
  32. The kohanim must eat the remains of the meal offerings (Leviticus 6:9)
  33. To bring all avowed and freewill offerings to the Temple on the first subsequent festival (Deuteronomy 12:5-6)
  34. To offer all sacrifices in the Temple (Deuteronomy 12:11)
  35. To bring all sacrifices from outside Israel to the Temple (Deuteronomy 12:26)
  36. Not to slaughter sacrifices outside the courtyard (of the Temple) (Leviticus 17:4)
  37. Not to offer any sacrifices outside the courtyard (of the Temple) (Deuteronomy 12:13)
  38. To offer two lambs every day (Numbers 28:3)
  39. To light a fire on the altar every day (Leviticus 6:6)
  40. Not to extinguish this fire (Leviticus 6:6)
  41. To remove the ashes from the altar every day (Leviticus 6:3)
  42. To burn incense every day (Exodus 30:7)
  43. The Kohen Gadol must bring a meal offering every day (Leviticus 6:13)
  44. To bring two additional lambs as burnt offerings on Shabbat (Numbers 28:9)
  45. To bring additional offerings on the New Month (Rosh Chodesh) (Numbers 28:11)
  46. To bring additional offerings on Passover (Numbers 28:19)
  47. To offer the wave offering from the meal of the new wheat (Leviticus 23:10)
  48. To bring additional offerings on Shavuot (Numbers 28:26)
  49. To bring two leaves to accompany the above sacrifice (Leviticus 23:17)
  50. To bring additional offerings on Rosh Hashana (Numbers 29:2)
  51. To bring additional offerings on Yom Kippur (Numbers 29:8)
  52. To bring additional offerings on Sukkot (Numbers 29:13)
  53. To bring additional offerings on Shmini Atzeret (Numbers 29:35)
  54. Not to eat sacrifices which have become unfit or blemished (Deuteronomy 14:3)
  55. Not to eat from sacrifices offered with improper intentions (Leviticus 7:18)
  56. Not to leave sacrifices past the time allowed for eating them (Leviticus 22:30)
  57. Not to eat from that which was left over (Leviticus 19:8)
  58. Not to eat from sacrifices which became impure (Leviticus 7:19)
  59. An impure person must not eat from sacrifices (Leviticus 7:20)
  60. To burn the leftover sacrifices (Leviticus 7:17)
  61. To burn all impure sacrifices (Leviticus 7:19)
  62. To follow the [sacrificial] procedure of Yom Kippur in the sequence prescribed in Parshah Acharei Mot (After the death of Aaron's sons...) (Leviticus 16:3)
  63. One who profaned property must repay what he profaned plus a fifth and bring a sacrifice (Leviticus 5:16)
  64. Not to work consecrated animals (Deuteronomy 15:19)
  65. Not to shear the fleece of consecrated animals (Deuteronomy 15:19)
  66. To slaughter the paschal sacrifice at the specified time (Exodus 12:6)
  67. Not to slaughter it while in possession of leaven (Exodus 23:18)
  68. Not to leave the fat overnight (Exodus 23:18)
  69. To slaughter the second Paschal lamb (Numbers 9:11)
  70. To eat the Paschal lamb with matzah and marror on the night of the 15th of Nissan (Exodus 12:8)
  71. To eat the second Paschal Lamb on the night of the 15th of Iyar (Numbers 9:11)
  72. Not to eat the Paschal meat raw or boiled (Exodus 12:9)
  73. Not to take the Paschal meat from the confines of the group (Exodus 12:46)
  74. An apostate must not eat from it (Exodus 12:43)
  75. A permanent or temporary hired worker must not eat from it (Exodus 12:45)
  76. An uncircumcised male must not eat from it (Exodus 12:48)
  77. Not to break any bones from the paschal offering (Exodus 12:46)
  78. Not to break any bones from the second paschal offering (Numbers 9:12)
  79. Not to leave any meat from the Paschal offering over until morning (Exodus 12:10)
  80. Not to leave the second Paschal meat over until morning (Numbers 9:12)
  81. Not to leave the meat of the holiday offering of the 14th until the 16th (Deuteronomy 16:4)
  82. To celebrate on Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot at the Temple (bring a peace offering) (Exodus 23:14)
  83. To rejoice on these three Festivals (bring a peace offering) (Deuteronomy 16:14)
  84. Not to appear at the Temple without offerings (Deuteronomy 16:16)
  85. Not to refrain from rejoicing with, and giving gifts to, the Levites (Deuteronomy 12:19)
  86. The kohanim must not eat unblemished firstborn animals outside Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 12:17)
  87. Every person must bring a sin offering for his transgression (Leviticus 4:27)
  88. Bring an asham talui when uncertain of guilt (Leviticus 5:17-18)
  89. Bring an asham vadai when guilt is ascertained (Leviticus 5:25)
  90. Bring an oleh v'yored offering (if the person is wealthy, an animal; if poor, a bird or meal offering) (Leviticus 5:7-11)
  91. The Sanhedrin must bring an offering when it rules in error (Leviticus 4:13)
  92. A woman who had a running issue (unnatural menstrual flow) must bring an offering after she goes to the Mikveh (Leviticus 15:28-29)
  93. A woman who gave birth must bring an offering after she goes to the Mikveh (Leviticus 12:6)
  94. A man who had a running issue (unnatural semen flow) must bring an offering after he goes to the Mikveh (Leviticus 15:13-14)
  95. A metzora (a person with tzaraas) must bring an offering after going to the Mikveh (Leviticus 14:10)
  96. Not to substitute another beast for one set apart for sacrifice (Temurah) (Leviticus 27:10)
  97. The new animal, in addition to the substituted one, retains consecration (Leviticus 27:10)
  98. Not to change consecrated animals from one type of offering to another (Leviticus 27:26)
  99. Carry out the procedure of the Red Heifer (Parah Aduma) (Numbers 19:2)
  100. Carry out the laws of the sprinkling water (Numbers 19:21)
  101. Break the neck of a calf by the river valley following an unsolved murder (Deuteronomy 21:4)

Women and Korbanot

Women were required to perform a number of korbanot, including:

  • Childbirth The offerings following childbirth described in Leviticus 12.
  • Thanksgiving The todah (Thanksgiving) offering and its accompanying mincha following recovery from illness or danger
  • Passover The pesach (Paschal) sacrifice on Passover. Women could offer the sacrifice and hold a seder themselves if they wished, even if married.
  • Chatot and Ashamot Chatot (sin) and ashamot (guilt) offerings in atonement for transgressions and unintentional errors.
  • Nazir Offerings relevant to fulfillment of, or transgression of, the Nazirite vow.
  • Tazriah, Metzorah, and Zavah Offerings following cure from certain diseases and unusual bodily discharges.

Women could also voluntarily participate in a number of other offerings and rituals for which they were not obligated, including:

  • First Fruits Bikkurim (first fruits) on the holiday of Shavuot.
  • Sheqalim The half-shekel tax for Temple needs.
  • Voluntary Offerings Shelamim (peace) offerings and a variety of other voluntary and donative offerings.
  • Semichah Semicha (laying on hands) of sacrificial animals for sacrifices they were not required to perform (Berachot 19a).
  • Shechitah Women could slaughter their sacrificial animals themselves if the wished.

Women who offered korbanot went directly into the Azarah (Temple Courtyard) through the Shaar Nashim, the Women's Gate, on the North Side of the Temple, and offered them in the same place that men offered them. Women who were not offering Korbanot were required to remain within the Ezrat Nashim (women's courtyard).[3]

In the Prophets

Many books of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, such as the Book of Isaiah and Book of Jeremiah, spoke out against those Israelites who brought forth sacrifices but did not act in accord with the precepts of the Torah.

The Prophets disparaged sacrifices that were offered without a regeneration of the heart, i.e., a determined turning from sin and returning to God by striving after righteousness. "O Israel, return unto the Lord your God; for you have fallen by your iniquity. Take with you words, and return unto the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept us graciously: so will we render as bullocks the offerings of our lips" (Hosea 14:1-2). "Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy, and repenteth him of the evil" (Joel 2:13). The Book of Micah states:

With what shall I approach the Lord,
Do homage to God on high?
Shall I approach Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
With myriads of streams of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for my sins?
Man has told you what is good.
But what does the Lord require of you?
Only to do justice
And to love goodness,
And to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8).

At the same time, prophets stressed the importance of offerings combined with justice and good even as they taught that offerings were unacceptable unless combined with heartfelt repentance and good deeds. Malachi, the last prophet in the Hebrew Bible, emphasized that the goal of repentance is not to end sacrifices, but to make the offerings fit for acceptance once again:

Oh that there were even one among you that would shut the doors,
That ye might not kindle fire on Mine alter in vain!
I have no pleasure in you,
Saith the Lord of hosts
Neither will I accept an offering at your hand. (Malachi 1:10)
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
And he shall purify the sons of Levi
And purge them as gold ond silver;
And there shall be they that shall offer unto the Lord
Offerings of righteousness.
Then shall the grain-offering of Judah and Jerusalem
Be pleasant unto the Lord
As in days of old
And as in ancient years. (Malachi 3:3-4)[4]

Similarly, the Book of Isaiah despite disparagement of sacrifices without justice, portrays sacrifice as having a role complementary with prayer in a universalistic eschatology:

Thus saith the LORD: Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for My salvation is near to come, and My favour to be revealed...
Also the aliens, that join themselves to the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast by My covenant:
Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:1; 6-7)[5]

Instructions in Mishnah and Talmud

The Mishnah and Talmud devote a very large section, known as a seder, to the study and analysis of this subject known as Kodshim, whereby all the detailed varieties of korbanot are enumerated and analyzed in great logical depth, such as kodshim kalim ("of minor degree of sanctity") and kodashei kodashim ("of major degree of sanctity"). In addition, large parts of every other book of the Talmud discuss various kinds of sacrifices. As but a few examples, Pesachim is largely devoted to a discussion of how to offer the Pesach (Passover) sacrifice. Yoma contains a detailed discussion of the offerings and Temple ritual on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and there are sections in seder Moed (Festivals) for the special offerings and Temple ritual for other major Jewish holidays. Sheqalim discusses the annual half-shekel offering for Temple maintenance and Temple governance and management, Nashim discusses the offerings made by Nazirites and the suspected adultress, etc.

The Talmud provides extensive details not only on how to perform sacrifices but how to adjudicate difficult cases, such what to do if a mistake was made and whether improperly performing one of the required ritual elements invalidates it or not. The Talmud explains how to roast the Passover offering, how to dash blood from different kinds of sacrifices upon the altar, how to prepare the incense, the regulatory code for the system of taxation that financed the priesthood and public sacrifices, and numerous other details.

Rationale and Rabbinic commentary

Maimonides, a medieval Jewish scholar, drew on the early critiques of the need for sacrifice, taking the view that God always held sacrifice inferior to prayer and philosophical meditation. However, God understood that the Israelites were used to the animal sacrifices that the surrounding pagan tribes used as the primary way to commune with their gods. As such, in Maimonides' view, it was only natural that Israelites would believe that sacrifice would be a necessary part of the relationship between God and man. Maimonides concludes that God's decision to allow sacrifices was a concession to human psychological limitations. It would have been too much to have expected the Israelites to leap from pagan worship to prayer and meditation in one step. In his Guide to the Perplexed he writes:

"But the custom which was in those days general among men, and the general mode of worship in which the Israelites were brought up consisted in sacrificing animals... It was in accordance with the wisdom and plan of God...that God did not command us to give up and to discontinue all these manners of service. For to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used; it would in those days have made the same impression as a prophet would make at present [the 12th Century] if he called us to the service of God and told us in His name, that we should not pray to God nor fast, nor seek His help in time of trouble; that we should serve Him in thought, and not by any action." (Book III, Chapter 32. Translated by M. Friedlander, 1904, The Guide for the Perplexed, Dover Publications, 1956 edition.)

In contrast, many others such as Nachmanides (in his Torah commentary on Leviticus 1:9) disagreed. Nachmanides cites the fact that the Torah records the practices of animal and other sacrifices from the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and earlier. Indeed, the purpose of recounting the near sacrifice of Isaac, known in Judaism as "The Binding of Isaac" (Akeidat Yitzhak or the Akeidah) was to illustrate the sublime significance and need of animal sacrifices as supplanting the abomination of human sacrifices.

In Spiritual practice

The korban also has a spiritual meaning, and refers to some part of an individual's ego, which is given up as a sacrifice to God in honor of the mortality of the worshipper. In keeping with the root of the word, meaning to draw close, and to the common usage as the sacrifice of an animal, so too can the worshipper sacrifice something of this world in order to become closer to God.[6]

The end of sacrifices

With the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, the Jewish practice of offering korbanot stopped for all intents and purposes. Despite subsequent intermittent periods of small Jewish groups offering the traditional sacrifices on the Temple Mount, the practice effectively ended.

Rabbinic Judaism was forced to undergo a significant development in response to this change; no longer could Judaism revolve round the Temple services. The destruction of the Temple led to a development of Judaism in the direction of text study, prayer, and personal observance. Orthodox Judaism regards this as being largely an alternative way of fulfilling the obligations of the Temple. Other branches of Judaism (Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist) regard the Korbanot as an ancient ritual that will not return. A range of responses is recorded in classical rabbinic literature, describing this subject.

Once, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai was walking with his disciple, Rabbi Y'hoshua, near Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Y'hoshua looked at the Temple ruins and said "Alas for us!! The place that atoned for the sins of the people Israel lies in ruins!" Then Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai spoke to him these words of comfort: 'Be not grieved, my son. There is another equally meritorious way of gaining ritual atonement, even though the Temple is destroyed. We can still gain ritual atonement through deeds of loving-kindness. For it is written "Lovingkindness I desire, not sacrifice." (Hosea 6:6)
Midrash Avot D'Rabbi Nathan 4:5

In the Babylonian Talmud, a number of sages opined that following Jewish law, doing charitable deeds, and studying Jewish texts is greater than performing animal sacrifices.

Rabbi Elazar said: Doing righteous deeds of charity is greater than offering all of the sacrifices, as it is written: "Doing charity and justice is more desirable to the Lord than sacrifice" (Proverbs 21:3).
Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 49

Nonetheless, numerous texts of the Talmud stress the importance of and hope for eventual re-introduction of sacrifices, and regard their loss as a terrible tragedy. Partaking of sacrificial offerings was compared to eating directly at ones Father's table, whose loss synagogue worship does not quite entirely replace. One example is in Berachot:

And I said to him: I heard a heavenly voice that was cooing like a dove and saying, "Woe to the children because of whose sins I destroyed My house, and burned My temple, and exiled them among the nations of the world. And he [Elijah the prophet] said to me: "By your life and the life of your head! It is not only at this moment that [the heavenly voice] says this. But on each and every day it says this three times. And not only this, but at the time that the people of Israel enter the synagogues and houses of study, and respond (in the Kaddish) "May His great name be blessed", the Holy One, Blessed is He, shakes His head and says: "Fortunate for the king who is praised this way in his house. What is there for the Father who has exiled His children. And woe to the children who have been exiled from their Father's table." (Talmud Berachot 3a).

Another example is in Sheqalim:

Rabbi Akiva said: Shimon Ben Loga related the following to me: I was once collecting grasses, and I saw a child from the House of Avitnas (the incense-makers). And I saw that he cried, and I saw that he laughed. I said to him, "My son, why did you cry?" He said, Because of the glory of my Father's house that has decreased." I asked "And why did you laugh?" He said to me "Because of the glory prepared for the righteous in the future." I asked "And what did you see?" [that brought on these emotions]. "The herb maaleh ashan is growing next to me. [Maaleh Ashan is the secret ingredient in the incense that made the smoke rise, which according to the Talmud the House of Avitnas never revealed.]"

Liturgical attention to end of sacrifices

Numerous details of the daily religious practice of an ordinary Jew are connected to keeping memory of the rhythm of the life of the Temple and its sacrifices. For example, the Mishna begins with a statement that the Shema Yisrael (Hear O Israel) prayer is to be recited in the evening at the time when Kohanim who were Tamei (ritually impure) are permitted to enter to eat their Terumah (a food-tithe given to priests) following purification, requiring a detailed discussion of the obligations of tithing, ritual purity, and other elements central to the Temple and priesthood in order to determine the meaning of the contemporary daily Jewish obligation.

Other occasions

Jewish services for Shabbat, Jewish holidays and other occasions include special prayers for the restoration of sacrifices. For example, the traditional Yom Kippur liturgy contains repeated prayers for the restoration of sacrifices and every High Holiday Amidah contains Isaiah 56:7:

Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.[5]

Modern view and resumption of sacrifices

Future of sacrifices in Judaism

Since the destruction of the Temple, Judaism has instituted a system of study, public Torah readings, and prayers that connect the Jewish people to the Temple and the Temple service.

The prevailing belief among rabbinic Jews is that in the messianic era, the Jewish Messiah will come and a Third Temple will be built. It is believed that the korbanot will be reinstituted, but to what extent and for how long is unknown. Some biblical and classical rabbinic sources hold that most or all sacrifices will not need to be offered.

  • In the future all sacrifices, with the exception of the Thanksgiving-sacrifice, will be discontinued. (Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 9:7)
  • All sacrifices will be annulled in the future. (Tanchuma Emor 19, Vayikra Rabbah 9:7)
  • Then the grain-offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to God as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. (Malachi 3:4)
  • It is impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other;...the custom which was in those days general among all men, and the general mode of worship in which the Israelites were brought up consisted of sacrificing animals in the temples... For this reason God allowed this kind of service to continue. The sacrificial system is not the primary object, rather supplications, and prayer. (Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed III 32)

The majority view of classical rabbis that the Torah's commandments will still be applicable and in force during the messianic era. However, a significant minority of rabbis held that most of the commandments will be nullified in the messianic era, thus holding that sacrifices will not be reinstated. Examples of such rabbinic views include:

  • Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Niddah 61b and Tractate Shabbat 151b.
  • Midrash Shochar Tov (Mizmor 146:5) states that God will permit what is now forbidden.

There is no authoritative answer accepted within Judaism as to which mitzvot, if any, would be annulled in the messianic era.

These views are still considered to be valid options within classical and Orthodox Judaism. As such, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first chief rabbi of Palestine, held that in the messianic era, only grain offerings ('menachot') will be reinstated in the Temple service. Most of Orthodox Judaism holds that in the messianic era, most or all of the korbanot will be reinstituted, at least for a time. Other Jewish denominations, such as Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism, hold that no animal sacrifices should be offered in a rebuilt Temple at all. See the article on the Temple in Jerusalem for examples of how prayerbooks by many Jewish groups deal with this issue.

Nineteenth and Twentieth century

In the 1800s a number of Orthodox rabbis studied the idea of reinstating korbanot on the Temple Mount, even though the messianic era had not yet arrived and the Temple was not rebuilt. A number of responsa concluded that within certain parameters, it is permissible according to Jewish law to offer such sacrifices.

During the early twentieth century, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan known as the Chofetz Chaim and himself a kohen, advised some followers to set up special yeshivas for married students known as Kodshim Kollels that would specialize in the study of the korbanot and study with greater intensity the kodshim sections of the Talmud in order to prepare for the arrival of the Jewish Messiah who would oversee the rebuilding of the original Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem that would be known as the Third Temple. His advice was taken seriously and today there are a number of well-established Haredi institutions in Israel that focus solely on the subject of the korbanot, kodshim, and the needs of the future Jewish Temple, such as the Brisk yeshivas.

Efforts to restore Korbanot

A few groups, notably the Temple Institute and the Temple Mount Faithful, have petitioned the Israeli government to rebuild a Third Temple on the Temple Mount and restore sacrificial worship. The Israeli government has not responded favorably. Most Orthodox Jews regard rebuilding a Temple as an activity for a Jewish Messiah as part of a future Jewish eschatology, and most non-Orthodox Jews do not believe in the restoration of sacrificial worship at all. The Temple Institute has been constructing ritual objects in peparation for a resumption of sacrifices.

View among modern Jewish denominations

Contemporary Orthodox Judaism

Today Orthodox Judaism includes mention of each korban on either a daily basis in the siddur (daily prayer book), or in the machzor (holiday prayerbook) as part of the prayers for the relevant days concerned. They are also referred to in the prayerbooks of Conservative Judaism, in an abbreviated fashion.

On each Jewish holiday the sections in the Torah mentioning that festival's korbanot is read out loud in synagogue.

Daily Services

In the very early morning daily Shacharit prayers for example, they include the following in order of mention, actually called the korbanot. (The following example is taken from the Ashkenazi liturgy.)

  • Kiyor Describing the basin containing pure water to wash up before touching the korbanot (offerings), based on Exodus 30: 17-21.[7]
  • Trumat Hadeshen Removing the ashes of the korban olah (elevation offering), based on Leviticus 6:1-6.[8]
  • Korban Tamid Perpetual daily offerings: "...Fire-offering...male yearling lambs unblemished two a day..." based on Numbers 28:1-8.[9]
  • Ketoret Incense [from] spices: "...stacte, onycha, and galbanum, ...and frankincense..." Based on Exodus 30:34-36;7-8..[7]."myrrh, cassia, spikenard, saffron, costus, aromatic bark, cinnamon, ley, salt, amber..." based on the Babylonian Talmud Kritut 6a; Jerusalem Talmud Yoma 4:5; 33a.
  • Korban Musaf The additional offerings for Shabbat: "On the Sabbath...two male lambs...fine flour for a meal offering mixed with oil and its wine libation..." based on Numbers 28:9-10.[10]
  • Korban Rosh Chodesh Offering for the new month: ...Two young bulls, one ram, seven lambs...fine flour ...mixed with olive he goat... and its wine libation." Based on Numbers 28: 11-15.[11]
  • Zevachim Chapter 5 of Mishnah Zevachim is then cited. (It was included in the siddur at this stage because it discusses all the sacrifices and the sages do not dispute within it):
    • A. Eizehu mekoman shel z'vachim Places for the zevachim korbanot to be offered: "...The slaughter of the bull and the he-goat of Yom Kippur is in the north [of the altar]..."
    • B. Parim hanisrafim Bulls that are completely burned: "...These are burned in the place where the [altar] ashes are deposited."
    • C. Chatot hatzibur v'hayachid Sin offerings of the community and the individual: "...The he-goats...are eaten within the [Temple courtyard] curtains by male priests...until midnight."
    • D. Ha'olah kodesh kodashim The elevation offering is among the offerings with a major-degree-of-holiness: " is entirely consumed by fire."
    • E. Zivchei shalmei tzibur v'ashamot Communal peace offerings and guilt offerings: "...are eaten within the [Temple courtyard] by males of the priesthood...until midnight."
    • F. Hatodah v'eil nazir kodashim kalim The thanksgiving offering and the ram of a Nazirite are offerings of a minor-degree holiness: "They are eaten throughout the city [of Jerusalem ] by anyone, prepared in any manner...until midnight..."
    • G. Sh'lamim kodashim kalim The peace offerings are of lesser (lighter) holiness: "...Is eaten by the kohanim...throughout the city [of Jerusalem] by anyone..."
    • H. Hab'chor vehama'aser vehapesach kodashim kalim The firstborn and tithe of animals and the Passover offering are offerings of lesser (lighter) holiness: "...The Passover offering is eaten only at night...only if roasted."
  • Rabbi Yishmael omer Rabbi Yishmael says: Through thirteen rules is the Torah elucidated. (Introduction to the Sifra, part of the Oral Law).
  • Yehi Ratzon (Ending) The study session concludes with a prayer ("May it be thy will...) for the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem and the resumption of sacrifices. (...that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and grant our portion in your Torahand there we shall serve you with reverence as in days of old and in former years. And may the grain offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasing to God, as in days of old and in former years.")

The Amidah

  • Retzai Every the Orthodox Amidah prayer, the central prayer of Jewish services, contains the paragraph: "Be favorable, Oh Lord our God, to your people Israel and their prayer, and restore the service of the Holy of Holies of Your House, and accept the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer with love and favor, and may the service of your people Israel always be favored." Conservative Judaism removes the words "fire offerings of Israel" from this prayer.
  • Yehi Ratzon Private recitiation of the Amidah traditionally ends with the Yehi Ratzon prayer for the restoration of the Temple.
  • The Amidah itself is said to represent liturgically the purpose of the daily Korban, while the recitation of the korbanot sections fulfill the formal responsibility to perform them, in the absence of the Temple.

The weekday Torah reading

  • A set of blessings connected with the weekday Torah reading include a prayer for the restoration of the Temple: "May it be the will before our Father who is in heaven to establish the House of our lives and to return his shekhina (Divine presence) into our midst, speedily, in our days, and let us say Amen."

In Conservative Judaism

Conservative Judaism disavows the resumption of Korbanot. Consistent with this view, it has deleted prayers for the resumption of sacrifices from the Conservative Siddur, including both the morning study section from the sacrifices, prayers for the restoration of Korbanot in the Amidah, and various mentions elsewhere. Consistent with its view that a priesthood and sacrificial system will not be restored, Conservative Judaism has also lifted certain restrictions on Kohanim, including limitations on marriage prohibiting marrying a divorced women or a convert. Conservative Judaism does, however, believe in the restoration of a Temple in some form, and in the continuation of Kohanim and Levites under relaxed requirements, and has retained references to both in its prayer books. Consistent with its stress on the continuity of tradition, many Conservative synagogues have also retained references to Shabbat and Festival Korbanot, changing all references to sacrifices into the past tense (e.g. the Orthodox "and there we will sacrifice" is changed to "and there they sacrificed"). Some more liberal Conservative synagogues, however, have removed all references to sacrifices, past or present, from the prayer service. The most recent official Conservative prayer book, Sim Shalom, provides both service alternatives.

In Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism disavow all belief in a restoration of a Temple, the resumption of Korbanot, or the continuation of identified Kohanim or Levites. These branches of Judaism believe that all such practices represent ancient practices inconsistent with the requirements of modernity, and have removed all or virtually all references to Korbanot from their prayer books.

Martyrs as korbanot

Classical Judaism teaches that after the destruction of the Temple, any Jew can become a korban for God as a martyr, both as a kadosh and as a korban. A kadosh means a "holy" or "sanctified" person who has given up his life for God, which is known as kiddush Hashem or "sanctification of God's name". The word for korbanot is kodshim, meaning "holy things" and the name for martyrs is kedoshim meaning "holy ones". So it is no wonder that Jews murdered during the Holocaust are referred to as both "korbanot" and "the kedoshim".

The relationship between martyrs and sacrifices has its sources in the Torah. One strong proto-type for the subject is the near sacrifice of Isaac, where God calls Isaac an olah ("burnt offering"): "...God tested Abraham...'Take your son, the only one you love, Isaac...Bring him as an olah (an all-burned offering)...'...Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood. He then bound his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham reached out and took the slaughter knife to slit his son's throat. God's angel called to him from heaven...Abraham then looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. He went and got the ram, sacrificing it as an all-burned offering in his son's place..." (Genesis 22:1-19).[12] Thus, this ram is interchangeable with Isaac, as any animal korban is symbolic of its human owner. In times when there is no Temple, the individual martyr is his or her own korban according to most classical views in Jewish thought on this subject.

This lesson was embedded into the Jewish national consciousness because it became their "mental framework" and means of rationalizing the persecutions against them over the centuries. A rabbinical teaching (Rashi Torat Kohanim, Leviticus) that when Jews are suffering, God looks to the "ashes" of Isaac on the altar, as if he had been burned like a korban olah, a complete "burned offering", (since Isaac accepted his fate, it is considered to be the equivalent of him having actually "gone through with it" on a metaphysical level), and it then serves the same purposes of gaining atonement as the sacrifices would have done in the ancient Temples.

A noted verse in the Book of Psalms says "...But for your [God's] sake are we killed all the day; we are considered like sheep for the slaughter. " (Psalms 44:23).[13] The image of Jews going like "sheep to the slaughter" has been used as the metaphor for both Jewish powerlessness as well as absolute fealty by them to their God. The death of people martyred for their faith was deemed to be the equivalent of sacrifices in the ancient Temples and hence the nomenclature utilized is the same as well. The word "Holocaust" derives from the Greek term for a "completely burnt" (olah) offering.

In Christianity

Most Christians(Jesus Christ in Gospel and St Paul in The Epistles) believe that sacrifices were commanded by God because of mankind's need to be ransomed from the punishment of sin (Lev. 17:11). They believe that since God is holy, he demands perfection in his followers, which is an unattainable standard (Rom. 3:23). The sacrificed animals were a sign of God's grace to mankind - in effect allowing the death of an acceptable animal to take the place of a man's death. Many Christians[who?] believe that this system of substitutionary atonement was prophesied to end with the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah's death was to be the atoning sacrifice for the entire world, thereby invalidating the need for the old system of animal sacrifice (Heb. 10:1-18). See Isaiah 53

Some other Christians[who?] (arguably fewer in number) believe that the atonement (covering over of sins) by the sacrificial system worked in allowing the worshiper to approach a Holy God who dwelled among them, but did not take away sins which they never intended to do. While Jesus' sacrifice atones permanently for our sins in the World to Come, His sacrifice did not replace the Temple sacrifices in this world, thus the continual presence of all of the early Christians in the Temple up until its destruction in 70 A.D.[original research?]

Jesus rebuked some of the Pharisees for their inappropriate implementation of Korban in Mark Chapter 7.

The phrase al-Qurbaan al-Muqaddas (القربان المقدس; The Holy Korban) is the usual term used to translate the term "Eucharist" into Arabic among Arab Christians.

See also



  • Bleich, J. David. "A Review of Halakhic Literature Pertaining to the Reinstitution of the Sacrificial Order." Tradition 9 (1967): 103-24.
  • Myers, Jody Elizabeth. "Attitudes Towards a Resumption of Sacrificial Worship in the Nineteenth Century." Modern Judaism 7, no. 1 (1987): 29-49.
  • Ticker, Jay. The Centrality of Sacrifices as an Answer to Reform in the Thought of Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. Vol. 15, Working Papers in Yiddish and East European Studies, 1975

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