Illuminating Sacrifices and Dietary Laws

What is the reason or purpose for Korban (Sacrifices) and Kashrut (Dietary Restrictions)?

In relationship to Korban (Sacrifices), it is interesting that two animals permitted for sacrifices are docile (submissive), ruminating creatures. For instance, the sheep (which provides wool for Tallit and Tzitzith) in a group or flock, naturally follows the shepherd, and the ox (whereby we get the materials for a Sefer Torah and Tefillin) is known for it’s enduring strength; while in contrast, the goat is known for butting it’s head into things.

In light of these characteristics, the sheep represents our submission to the will of HaShem; the ox, guided by the master with a yoke represents our willingness to be guided by the will of HaShem; while the goat represents our rebellion against the will of HaShem.

In relationship to Kashrut (Dietary Restrictions), the Torah, (as Rashi) relates gives three examples of unclean animals that are excluded from sacrifices and dietary consumption since they have both positive and negative character traits:

the dog, the cat and the bear. These ‘go upon their paws,’ (having little connection to the earth) and are carnivorous creatures.

The dog because, while it’s heart is faithful to it’s master, it is publically promiscuous, crude and ‘dirty’. The cat because, while it is attentive to cleanliness, it’s heart is independent of it’s master. The bear on the other hand eats, sleeps, rises up and is angry towards all other creatures who get in it’s way!

According to Keil, the German Lutheran Theologian in “Handbuch der Biblischen Archäologie,” pp. 492 et seq., the law is a religious one, intended to deter men from the vices and sins of which certain animals are the symbols, which view is a mere variation of the allegorical interpretation proposed by Philo (“De Concupiscentia,” 5-10).

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