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H5. Conducting Sacrifices Apart from the Holy Temple.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to conduct sacrifices of any kind apart from the Holy Temple.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 17:3-9 (Maimonides RN90; Chinuch C186)
When someone from the community of Isra'el slaughters an ox, lamb or goat inside or outside the camp without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to ADONAI before the tabernacle of ADONAI, he is to be charged with blood- he has shed blood, and that person is to be cut off from his people. The reason for this is so that the people of Isra'el will bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice out in the field- so that they will bring them to ADONAI, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the cohen, and sacrifice them as peace offerings to ADONAI. The cohen will splash the blood against the altar of ADONAI at the entrance to the tent of meeting and make the fat go up in smoke as a pleasing aroma for ADONAI. No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons, before whom they prostitute themselves! This is a permanent regulation for them through all their generations.' Also tell them, 'When someone from the community of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living with you offers a burnt offering or sacrifice without bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to ADONAI, that person is to be cut off from his people.

Deuteronomy 12:2-5
You must destroy all the places where the nations you are dispossessing served their gods, whether on high mountains, on hills, or under some leafy tree. Break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carved images of their gods. Exterminate their name from that place. But you are not to treat ADONAI your God this way. Rather, you are to come to the place where ADONAI your God will put his name. He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where he will live, and go there.

Deuteronomy 12:13-14 (Maimonides RN89-90; Chinuch C186, C439)
Be careful not to offer your burnt offerings just anywhere you see, but do it in the place ADONAI will choose in one of your tribal territories; there is where you are to offer your burnt offerings and do everything I order you to do.

Hebrews 9:11-12
But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever.

Hebrews 10:12-14
But this one, after he had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God, from then on to wait until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has brought to the goal for all time those who are being set apart for God and made holy.

1 John 2:2
Also, he is the kapparah for our sins - and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Supportive Scriptures

Deuteronomy 12:29-31
When ADONAI your God has cut off ahead of you the nations you are entering in order to dispossess, and when you have dispossessed them and are living in their land; be careful, after they have been destroyed ahead of you, not to be trapped into following them; so that you inquire after their gods and ask, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I want to do the same. You must not do this to ADONAI your God! For they have done to their gods all the abominations that ADONAI hates! They even burn up their sons and daughters in the fire for their gods!

2 Chronicles 23:16-17
Y'hoyada made a covenant between himself, all the people and the king, that they would be ADONAI's people. Then all the people went to the house of Ba'al and broke it down; they smashed his altars and images and killed Mattan the priest of Ba'al in front of the altars.


This Mitzvah is based on ones that Maimonides and HaChinuch wrote, limiting sacrifices to within the Sanctuary court. Their reason for highlighting this limitation was that the Israelites were to be reminded to not sacrifice to (or in the manner of) foreign Gods. This instruction is especially relevant in precluding our conducting sacrifices today at a time when there is no Holy Temple, but it gives no hint of whether sacrifices might be resumed if (and at such time as) the Temple is rebuilt, nor what kind of sacrifices they might be if it is. Clearly, with the sacrifice of Yeshua having occurred, they cannot be sacrifices for sin.

The few Scriptures included herein that prohibit the use of unauthorized altars for sacrifice are but a sampling of many others that are in the Bible.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides and HaChinuch paraphrase closely the Scriptures upon which they rely, and Meir chose not to write a mitzvah on the subject.


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