Why do we Sacrifice?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: Rambam states that God commanded the Jews to bring sacrifices in order to ween them off idolatry. How do we explain other biblical figures bringing sacrifices prior to Sinai like Cain and Abel, Noah etc? Did God instruct them to do so behind the scenes? It’s interesting because Noah was also told to bring extra clean animals, for the purpose of sacrifices after the flood, according to chazal. How do we approach this and does it contradict the weening off of idolatry opinion?

Rabbi: Rambam discusses the formal Torah command of animal sacrifice to God. It intends to ween Jews away from serving animals. But prior, even Adam sacrificed. He was not doing so as a command, nor was he doing so with any relation to idolatry. He did so to demonstrate by proxy that man’s existence isn’t necessary. We are akin to a dead animal. Nothing demands man must exist, which we demonstrate by rendering a life lifeless, as if it was us.