The Bible knows a whole range of animals. There are lions, wolves and bears, cows, sheep and goats. The animals are sometimes large and sometimes small. Some are wild beasts and some are domestic. Any could have been selected as offerings in the Temple.
Which were actually chosen? Not the lions, wolves or bears. All of these are non-kosher and probably hard to catch.
But the Midrash offers another reason. Why, it asks, are the offerings limited to bulls, sheep and goats?
“Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, ‘The bull runs away from the lion, the goat runs away from the tiger, and the lamb runs away from the wolf. Do not bring your offerings from the pursuer, but only from the pursued’. Similarly, the Book of Kohelet says, ‘God seeks out that which is pursued’ (Koh. 3:15)”.
Rashi’s interpretation of Kohelet is that God prefers to uphold the victim and punish the persecutor – in this case, presumably by denying the persecutor the privilege of being brought as an offering.
The Midrash applies the discussion to Israel and the nations, arguing that the Jewish people have been constantly victimised by the nations but will always survive.
Today’s world is well aware of violators and victims. On any analysis the victimisation is because the others are different – and difference is deemed to be wrong. The theory is, “Be like us and you will be all right”.
In practice it is not so easy, but the theory is already a problem. Why should we have to be clones of anyone else? It is not only that we each have the right to be different, but in point of fact we cannot be other than we are.
If the allegation is “I don’t like you because you are old!”, are we meant to roll back the clock and become young again? If it is “I don’t like you because you are coloured!”, are we meant to take a brush and paint ourselves white?
If it is “I don’t like you because you are a Jew (or a Muslim or a Christian or whatever)!”, are we meant to reinvent our heredity or deny our conscience?