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Question: I understand that in the time of Moshiach we will return to the offering of animal sacrifices. But on the other hand, if, as we are told, those will be times without sin, then what will we sacrifice? In this modern world, some also argue that animals have rights and thus animal sacrifice is wrong. How do we answer them as well?

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Answer: It is important to note that if one needs to check the credentials of a siddur – a Hebrew prayer book – one need look no further than the Amida – the Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen blessings) that we say three times every day, and specifically the prayer R’tzeh; where we say “May your people Israel and their prayers find such favor before you Hashem, our Eternal G-d, that You restore the service in the Holy of Holies in Your abode and the sacrificial fire offerings of Israel and accept their prayers lovingly and willingly and may You always find acceptable the service of Your people, Israel. And may our eyes behold Your merciful return to Zion. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who returns His Divine Presence to Zion.”

This prayer stresses that in the time to come when the Holy Temple, the Beit HaMikdash, will be rebuilt, there will be prayer, but the central focus will be the animal sacrifices. The question, as we discuss further, is which animal sacrifices. In some, if not all, of the non-Orthodox prayer books the words “Ishei Yisrael – the sacrificial fire offerings of Israel – are not found, including references to all the sacrifices throughout the prayer service. This is actual apostasy, especially as the korbanot, the sacrifices, are divinely ordained, as we will note further.

Unfortunately, the progressives and reformers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries denied the sanctity of the Written Law, and surely the Oral Law, as we now cite from the following from the Jewish Theological Seminary site, Articles 2-5 of The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, a controversial yet pivotal formulation of principles by representatives of Reform Judaism in the United States. The platform remained the basic statement of the tenets of Reform in America until 1937. (Additionally, Conservative Judaism has jumped on board liturgically.)

Article 2: “We recognize in the Bible the record of the consecration of the Jewish people to its mission as the priest of the one G-d, and value it as the most potent instrument of religious and moral instruction. We hold that the modern discoveries of scientific researches in the domain of nature and history are not antagonistic to the doctrines of Judaism, the Bible reflecting the primitive ideas of its own age, and at times clothing its conception of divine Providence and Justice dealing with men in miraculous narratives.”

Article 3: “We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only its moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.”

Article 4: “We hold that all such Mosaic and rabbinical laws as regulate diet, priestly purity, and dress originated in ages and under the influence of ideas entirely foreign to our present mental and spiritual state. They fail to impress the modern Jew with a spirit of priestly holiness; their observance in our days is apt rather to obstruct than to further modern spiritual elevation.”

Article 5: “We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel’s great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”

Not only do they deny the sacrifices but our nationhood, as well as any real connection to the land of Israel (then referred to as Palestine). They refer to our Torah and obviously Moshe and Aaron as being primitive and they deny the elevated status of the Kohen and the Levite.

(To be continued)

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.