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    Messing with Maimonides – Vayikra

    The Torah reading goes into great detail about sacrifices.

    Maimonides regards them as Divine statutes given by God as a test of human faith (Hil’chot Me’ilah 1).

    In his Guide for the Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim part 3) he suggests that they have a historical basis: they are not the highest form of worship but an intermediate stage whereby humans will gradually drop debased rituals derived from an idolatrous environment and refine their rites by means of Torah laws about sacrifices in order eventually to come to God in purity and atonement.

    Some notable authorities criticise Maimonides, but Abravanel supports him by means of a Midrash on Lev. 22: “A king saw that his son used to eat meat from animals that had died by themselves or had been torn by wild beasts, both of which were not kosher. The king said, ‘If he must eat this meat, let him do it at my table so that he will gradually rid himself of erroneous ways.’”

    Critics said that whatever justification Maimonides was advocating, he was not dealing with the whole of the sacrificial system, which had its own spiritual and ethical purpose.

    One of the arguments in favour of the sacrifices is that humans who yearn for God must learn to give up their addiction to material possessions and their selfish thoughts of and for themselves.

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