Some Laws of Animal Sacrifices
The Torah now tells us who may or may not eat of the holy food which is consecrated for the priests. We are told that a layman may not partake, even if he lives with or works for a priest. If he is a slave owned by a priest, however, he is permitted to eat. The priest’s unmarried daughter may eat, as well, but if she is widowed or divorced, she can only partake if she has no children. Anyone who eats the consecrated food by mistake must repay it with an added fifth of value.
Much like the priests which bring the offerings, the animals themselves which are to be sacrificed must be unblemished, we are then told. An offering from a stranger is also unacceptable. A new-born animal must remain with its mother for a week before it can be brought for sacrifice, and a mother animal and its offspring may not be slaughtered on the same day. All offerings from which the offerer is meant to partake as well must be eaten within the allotted time frame, so as not to desecrate the name of God.
The Israel Bible points to the juxtaposition of the sanctification of God’s name and the exodus from Egypt at the end of this passage. The scholar Rashi says this teaches us the redemption from Egypt was conditioned on the Israelites sanctifying God’s name. The Talmud indicates the primary way to sanctify God’s name is through one’s behavior. Kindness, consideration and honesty bring others to realize “fortunate are the parents and teachers who raised such a person.”
Virtual Classroom Discussion
The rules regarding which blemishes disqualify a peace-offering are more lenient than other offerings. Why do you think that is?