Karbanot – Can They be Used as Payment for Some Sort of “Sin Debt”?

June 27, 2018
14 Tammuz 5778

This week’s Parshah is called Balak. It tells the story of Balak hiring a non-Israelite prophet to curse Israel. Balak and Bilaam tried to do this three times. Prior to each attempt they brought korbanot or “sacrifices” in an attempt to bribe G_d to allow them to curse Israel and each time they failed. There are many people in the world that do not understand korbanot.

This portion of the Parshah in chapter 23 describes something of the nature of G_d. You cannot buy Him off:

18 And he took up his parable, and said: Arise, Balak, and hear; give ear unto me, thou son of Zippor:
19 God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: when He hath said, will He not do it? or when He hath spoken, will He not make it good?
20 Behold, I am bidden to bless; and when He hath blessed, I cannot call it back.

Menachem Leibtag of TaNaCh Study Center discussed this week’s Haftorah found in Michah 5:6 to 6:8. He summarized that G_d will not accept karbanot/sacrifices as some sort of payment that allows for bad behavior toward our fellows:

“According to the navi - this attitude reflects a total misunderstanding of korbanot [and in fact most any type of ritual]. If God has allowed us to offer korbanot, it is not simply to counter-balance any bad deed or behavior. Rather, the primary purpose of korbanot and the Bet HaMikdash was to serve as a vehicle through which Am Yisrael can perfect their relationship with God. But if the essential aspects of Judiasm are missing - if there is no "tzedek u'mishpat" - then korbanot become a farce and even counterproductive. If man allows himself to become slack in his behavior towards his neighbor thinking that he can balance his flaw simply by offering God some extra korbanot, then he has totally misunderstood what korbanot are all about.”
Source is TaNaCh Study Center.

More from TaNaCh Study Center:

“Therefore, Micha concludes this section [and this week's Haftara] with his famous statement concerning what God truly wants from man: "He has told you what is good and what God requires of man: Only to do justice [mishpat], and to love kindness [chessed], and to walk modestly with your God." (6:8)”

Shavua Tov!