Monday, March 14, 2016

Rabbi Hirsch on Korbanos part 2

By Hirschy;

"Which natural enjoyment does it [the Torah] seek to eradicate? Is there one natural enjoyment that it does not ennoble, one inborn drive that it does not hallow...? As means to a higher end, subordinate to the Law and dedicated to its purpose, these drives are holy and truly human, a way of fulfilling the human destiny." - Rabbi S.R. Hirsch , letter 15 of the Nineteen Letters (pages 196-7 in the Elias edition)

As mentioned in the previous post, shechitah is only a necessary first step. Afterwards, the real avodah begins. The blood is absorbed in a kli sha'reis. This signifies that a persons 'lifeblood' must be sanctified by being placed in a holy vessel. [5] This is followed by zerikas ha'dam.[6] The blood is placed (or thrown, depending on the type of korbon) on the corners of the mizbayach. This signifies the person taking to heart to elevate himself to the ideals which the mizbayach represents. Those ideals will be explained in a future post. For now, let up just note one important point. The mizbayach must be square. If not, it is passul. Now, a square is not a 'natural' shape. Left to the elements, objects in the wild tend to end up circular or some similar form. The mizbayach's very shape indicates that human activity is key and a positive thing. [7]

To be continued...

[5] See commentary on shemos 29:37

[6] Actually this is preceded by ha'kravah- the blood is carried to the mizbayach. However, that avodah merely symbolizes the drawing near to ha'shem that was already indicated by the person's decision to bring the korban in the first place. Therefore, this stage is dispensable and may be skipped in a scenario where the shechitah was done next to the mizbayach.

[7] According to Rabbi Hirsch, the korban symbolizes the the determination on the part of the makriv (the one bringing it) to dedicate all of his energy, abilities, and talents to the service of Hashem. Again, the point is not to eliminate anything, but to redirect it.

It cannot be over emphasized that Rabbi Hirsch utterly rejected the notion that people are fundamentally bad and need to be crushed into some sort of pathetic broken soul with no normal tendencies. See Rabbi Yechiel Yakov Weinberg's article about Rabbi Hirsch (Seridei Aish volume 4 page 364-7), where he notes that this is fundamentally what differentiates the optimistic Jewish view of this world from the morbid Christian one. "At this time, Rabbi Hirsch stood up and proclaimed the ancient truth of Judaism: life and religion are one and the same....the mitzvos were not given as an alternative to the joys of life or as some form of compensation for them.... In his writings, Rabbi Hirsch makes one fundamental argument: enliven the religious sense so that it nurses from the depths of a persons soul- not from fear of death and the punishments that follow." As Rabbi Weinberg notes, there is nothing new about this demand- it's called yir'as ha'rommemus. It's only that Rabbi Hirsch made a point of stressing it- in opposition to reformers like Holdheim who claimed that 'rabbinic' Judaism and real life are incompatible. 

See also the section "Judaism And The Moral Law Innate In Man" in Dayan Grunfeld's introduction to Rabbi Hirsch's Horeb.

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