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Posted on January 8, 2007 By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

45. Sacrificial Procedures – Maaseh ha-Korbanos

a) Animal and Bird Sacrifices

Only cattle, sheep, goats, pigeons and doves can be offered as sacrifices. There are seven kinds of sacrifices:a 1) The burnt-offering [as it says “If his sacrifice is a burnt-offering…”1]. Such offerings can be brought voluntarily by Jews or non-Jews; they are also required in conjunction with certain sin-offerings. The community offers two daily, and additional ones on sabbaths, new moons and festivals. It is forbidden for anyone to eat them, as it says “You must not eat… the vows that you make”.2,b 2) The sin-offering [as it says “This is the law of the sin-offering…”].3 Such offerings are required when a person (or the community) has sinned through error; they must also be brought by nazirites and by persons purified from leprosy or running issues. The community offers them on new moons and festivals. Those brought by the community or the high priest (on account of a sin) or on Yom Kippur must be burned and it is forbidden for anyone to eat them, as it says “And any sin-offering part of whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to atone in the holy place must not be eaten; it must be burnt in the fire”.3 The others (except for the parts offered on the altar) must be eaten by priests in the Temple, as it says “All their sacrifices… are holy of holies to you and to your sons”4 [and it says “And you shall eat it in a holy place”5,c]. 3) The guilt-offering [as it says “And this is the law of the guilt-offering…”6]; this is always a ram. Such offerings are required when an individual has committed certain specific sins or is not sure whether he has sinned or is purified from leprosy. They too must be eaten by priests in the Temple.d 4) The peace-offering [as it says “And this is the law of the peace-offering sacrifice…”7]; this cannot be a bird. Such an offering can be brought voluntarily by any Jew (if it is accompanied by bread it is called a peace-offering) and must be brought by a nazirite. The community brings two such in conjunction with the bread-offering on Shavuos. The community peace-offerings must be eaten by priests in the Temple. Those of individuals may be eaten by any Jew, except for the chest and right hind leg (and in the case of a nazirite’s offering, also the right foreleg), which must be eaten by priests or their families, as it says “Everything raised up from the sacred things that the children of Israel raise up to Ha-Shem I have given to you and to your sons and daughters”.8 They must all be eaten in Jerusalem, as it says “You shall eat [them] in a clean place”.9,e 5) The Passover sacrifice 10 (a male lamb or kid); it is eaten by those participating in it. 6) The firstborn11 (male; of cattle, sheep, or goats); it is eaten by priests or their families. 7) The tithe12 (of cattle, sheep, or goats); it may be eaten by anyone. (All these too must be eaten in Jerusalem.)f Just before an animal sacrifice (other than Passover, firstborn or tithe) is slaughtered the owner should press his hands on its head and recite a confession. After slaughter the blood is caught in a sacred vessel and sprinkled or poured on the altar and parts of the fat are then burned on the altar. An animal burnt- or peace-offering (and the leper’s offerings) must be accompanied by a flour-offering and a libation of wine on the altar.g The neck of a bird sacrifice is cut at the altar; in the case of a sin-offering it must not be severed completely, as it says “And he shall cut off its head from the back of its neck but shall not separate [it]”.13,h

The priests are commanded to eat their portions of the sacrifices, as it says “And they shall eat them by which they are atoned”14 — the priests eat and the offerors receive atonement. It is forbidden for a non-priest to eat these portions, as it says “And an outsider shall not eat, for they are holy”.14 It is forbidden to eat any part of a sacrifice before its blood has been put on the altar, as it says “You must not eat… your offerings in your gates”15 — that is, before their blood has been put at the gate of G-d’s place (i.e., the altar). Similarly, it is forbidden to eat from the sacrifices outside the Temple or outside Jerusalem if they are required to be eaten inside. It is forbidden to eat any of the parts of sacrifices that are to be burned on the altar, as it says “It shall be consumed, it shall not be eaten”.16 These last prohibitions apply to flour-offerings as well.i

b) Flour and Cake Offerings

Offerings of flour or cakes (fried or baked) [as it says “And if a person offers a flour sacrifice…”]17 can be brought voluntarily. Such offerings are also required of a priest when he first begins his Temple service; of the high priest, daily; of a poor man who cannot afford an animal or bird sin-offering; and of a wife suspected of adultery. The community offers them on the day after Pesach (the omer) and on Shavuos; it also offers the showbread weekly. All of these must be of wheat except for those of the adulteress and the omer, which are of barley. They must all be unleavened except for the Shavuos bread-offering, as it says “[Any flour-offering that you offer to Ha-Shem] shall not be made leavened… you shall offer them to Ha-Shem as a first-fruits sacrifice but they shall not go up to the altar”.18,j

Except for the Shavuos bread-offering and the showbread, such an offering is brought to the altar and part of it is burned there; the rest must be eaten unleavened by the priests on duty in the Temple, as it says “And what remains of it Aaron and his sons shall eat; [it shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place]; it shall not be baked leavened, [even] their portion…”.19 A priest’s flour-offering, however, is entirely burned and it is forbidden to eat it, as it says “And any priest’s flour-offering shall be entirely consumed; it shall not be eaten”.20 Oil and frankincense are put on all flour-offerings except those of the sinner and the adulteress, as it says “He shall not put [pour] oil on it and he shall not place frankincense on it”.21,k

c) Places and Times

We are commanded to bring all our sacrifices to the Temple, as it says “[The place that Ha-Shem your G-d shall choose… there you shall bring everything that I command you, your burnt-offerings…] and there you shall do all that I command you”22; and there is a special commandment about bringing animal sacrifices to the Temple from outside the land of Israel, as it says “But your sacred things that you have and your vows you shall carry and come to the place that Ha-Shem will choose”.23 It is forbidden to slaughter or offer anything fit for a sacrifice outside the Temple, as it says “Beware lest you offer your burnt-offerings in any place that you see”24; and it says “[Any man…] who shall offer a burnt-offering or sacrifice and shall not bring it to the door of the tent of meeting… shall be cut off from his people”25; and it says “[Any man…] who slaughters an ox or sheep or goat… [and did not bring it to the door of the tent of meeting] it shall be regarded as blood for that man: he has spilled blood and he shall be cut off”.26 These prohibitions apply even when the Temple does not exist.l

If a person vows to bring a sacrifice (or other consecrated thing) or is required to bring one, he is commanded to do so at the first possible festival (Pesach, Shavuos or Sukkos), as it says “And you shall come there and you shall bring there your burnt-offerings.“27 He is forbidden to delay beyond the third festival, as it says “[If you make a vow to Ha-Shem your G-d] you shall not delay paying it”.28,m


1. Lev. 1:3-13 a. 1:1-3
2. Deut. 12:7 b. 1:5-6; 3:2; 6:1; 11:1
3. Lev. 6:17-23 c. 1:5-6,15-16; 7:1-2; 10:3; 11:3
4. Num. 18:9 d. 1:6; 9:1
5. Lev. 10:13; see Num. 18:10 e. 1:4,6; 9:3ff; 10:4-5
6. Lev. 7:1-7 f. 9:25; 10:5; see Korban Pesach and Bechoros
7. Lev. 7:11-18; see Lev. 3 g. 1:18; 2:1-2; 3:6,14; 4:8; 5:6
8. Num. 18:19 h. 6:20ff; 7:6ff
9. Lev. 10:14 i. 10:1,3-5,8
10. See Ex. 12:3-11 j. 12:2-4,14-15; 13:1
11. See Deut. 15:19-22; Num. 18:17-19 k. 10:2; 12:6-7,9,14
12. See Lev. 27:32 l. 18:1-3,6; 19:15
13. Lev. 5:8 m. 14:13
14. Ex. 29:33
15. Deut. 12:17
16. Lev. 6:16
17. Lev. 2:lff (and see 6:7ff)
18. Lev. 2:11-12
19. Lev. 6:9-10
20. Lev. 6:16
21. Lev. 5:11; Num. 5:15
22. Deut. 12:11,14
23. Deut. 12:26
24. Deut. 12:13
25. Lev. 17:8-9
26. Lev. 17:3-4
27. Deut. 12:5-6
28. Deut. 23:22