Animal Sacrifices – Korban (“To Bring Close”)

Tzippy Cohen As I understand the teaching of the the Torah, When one examines the nature of, or characteristics of kosher animals we see that a person making a sacrifice is “expressing” an aspect of their soul; e.g. one’s thanksgiving or one’s deficiency in action. For example, Rashi relates that the Torah singles out “the dog, the cat and the bear” as unclean/non-kosher for the purposes of sacrifices because each of these non-Kosher animals have both positive and negative character traits and we should seek to eliminate the negative character traits (the dog is crude, while it’s heart is with it’s master, the cat is indifferent towards it’s master, while it tends towards cleanliness, and the bear eats, sleeps and has no master) from our behavior. For instance, a domesticated bull represents strength and consistency, sheep (a ram or ewe) represents a docile, submissive nature. a goat, it will butt it’s master and represents rebelliousness. The Torah provides the ritual of cleansing the metzora because of the sin of slander. Rashi relates that cedar, hyssop and a bird are used ritually to express the need to eliminate haughtiness and slander and for the person (metzora) to become humble like the worm and like the hyssop. Parshiyot Tazria – Metzora

(Leviticus 12:1-13:59 Leviticus 14:1-15:33)

“The priest shall command; and for the person being purified [of leprosy] there shall be taken two live, clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet thread, and hyssop.” (Leviticus 14:4)


Ultimately we see that the types of sacrifices are symbolic of what aspect of our soul that we wish to express to HaShem…..

The root for the word korban (sacrifice) is “to bring close” – hence we are bringing close to the Holy One an aspect or characteristic of our soul.

For Yom Kippur we see that two goats are ritually used to atone for sin; one is slaughtered “for HaShem” bringing the Kohen HaGadol (the High Priest) as representative of the People of Israel “close to HaShem”; and on one is for vidduy – confession by the Kohen HaGadol (the High Priest) made over the goat for azazel which symbolically carries away into the wilderness our rebelliousness – V’Yiqra (Leviticus) 16.21-22.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s