The concept of Korbanos seem strange to us – after all, now that we don’t have a Beis HaMikdash, it is forbidden to offer sacrifices!
Naturally, you might be wondering what this Mitzvah is all about. Why would HaShem want anybody to bring a Korban?
Although the Torah does not tell us clearly the reason for bringing Korbanos, throughout the ages this was a “burning” topic amongst the great Jewish scholars.
Here are some of their ideas in brief:
Korbanos are usually brought because a person did not follow a commandment of the Torah – they distanced themselves from HaShem. There are also times when someone wants to come closer to HaShem by offering thanks for something good that happened to them. Let’s now take a look at the word Korban. It is similar to the Hebrew word Karov, meaning close – a Korban brings a person close to HaShem – “Adam Ki Yakriv Mikem Korban LaHashem.”
So it really does not matter much about the details of the Mitzvah, it’s more about fulfilling HaShem’s will. HaShem wanted people to bring Korbanos, and this is how we come close to Him. Imagine if a king asks you to do something for him. It doesn’t make a difference what it is, whether serving him dinner, or helping him come up with some ideas to better the economy – either way it’s a privilege.
In fact, in the Torah, whenever a sacrifice is described, we read that the burning of the offering creates – “a pleasant aroma for HaShem” a Reyach Nicho’ach LaHaShem. Bringing a Korban allows a person to fulfill a commandment that brings G-d pleasure. And that brings the person Karov – close to HaShem.
Korbonas… Sacrifices… Why? Two great Rabbis, both by the name Moshe explained..
The names of these Rabbis are Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (a.k.a. Rambam or Maimonides), and Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (a.k.a. Ramban). Both of them lived over 800 years ago and both were born in Spain.
Rambam’s opinion is mentioned in his book Moreh Nevuchim, “Guide of the Perplexed.” Ramban in his commentary to the Chumash explains why he disagrees with the Rambam, and offers his own opinion.
Of course, like so many subjects in Torah, throughout the ages, Rabbis “commented” on this subject – some supported the Rambam, others vehemently opposed him and agreed with the Ramban. Still, there are other Rabbis who offered their own opinion. So, although we don’t have Korbanos nowadays, it remains a never-ending topic!
(BTW: The first words of Sefer VaYikra is “VaYikra el Moshe” – “And He called to Moshe”. Perhaps this is a hint to the two above Rabbis… both by the name Moshe.)