Our parsha cautions the people of Israel that any sacrificial animal must be unblemished, without defect.
Anything blind, or injured, or maimed, or with a cyst, boil-scar, or scurvy—such you shall not offer to the Lord. (Lev 22:22)
Why is a blemish such a problem? Why are disfigured animals banned from becoming offerings to God? The prophet Malakhi explains:
When you present a blind animal for sacrifice—it doesn’t matter? When you present a lame or sick one—it doesn’t matter? Just offer it to your governor: Will he accept you? Will he show you favor?—said the Lord of Hosts. (1:8)
Blind, lame or sick animals are disqualified because they would be rejected by the “governor,” by a government official. In a national tax, damaged produce is unacceptable. Similarly, God says, whatever cannot be brought to a human as a gift, even as a tariff or tax, should also apply to God; and as such, animals must be intact and unmaimed.
Click here to read more from Rabbi Alex Israel in this week’s Parsha Discussion: Emor — Blemished Motivation?
Please note that if you are printing The Parsha Discussion on US paper, please select the option “fit to print”.
Alex teaches Bible at Pardes and is the Director of the Community Education Program and the Summer Program. Alex was born and raised in London. He holds degrees from London School of Economics, the Institute of Education London and Bar-Ilan University. Alex studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion under Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav Yehudah Amital, and gained Rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate. Click here to read more.