The Sanhedrin is advocating for the establishment of an Organization of 70 nations based on Mount Zion and as part of this effort, facilitated an animal sacrifice to renew the covenant that Noah made in the name of all mankind with God when he exited the Ark. That sacrifice took place on Thursday on the Mount of Olives. I reported on the event and would like to give a personal account here but first I feel I must begin with several disclaimers.
DISCLAIMER FOR CHRISTIANS
At the conference, I met with the delegates from South America. The overwhelming love for Israel that is flowing out of South America is astounding and is something I would very much like to understand. So I was disappointed when they told me they would not attend the sacrifice. They explained that for them, Jesus was the final sacrifice that atoned for their sins. I do not personally share this belief (nor will I ever) but the sweetness of their belief and where it takes them in their service of God touched me deeply. They did not attend but neither did they condemn the event. I believe it is because they understood the even for what it was.
The sacrifice was a reenactment of the sacrifice described explicitly in the Bible in Genesis.
Then Noach built an altar to Hashem and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. Hashem smelled the pleasing odor, and Hashem said to Himself: “Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the devisings of man’s mind are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done. Genesis 8:20-21
The sacrifice was explicitly not a sin offering. It was a burnt offering just as Noah’s was. It was certainly not intended as a declaration against any belief in Jesus or any other religious belief. The Bible describes the covenant and it is between God and all of mankind. Man is required to follow the Seven Noahide Laws. The laws are not imposed by the Jews on the non-Jews though we were the keepers of the tradition (as we were in many other aspects). We kept the tradition for you. The laws that were renewed yesterday are as follows:
- Not to worship idols.
- Not to curse God.
- To establish courts of justice.
- Not to commit murder.
- Not to commit adultery, bestiality, or sexual immorality.
- Not to steal.
- Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
In my humble opinion, these are basic laws that any person should follow. They are clearly not part of a nefarious plan for Jews to control Christians. Many Christians believe that there is a prophecy that one day two branches will become grafted be as one. I do not want to be grafted with a person who does not follow these laws. I don’t even want to live near a person who rejects these laws.
If there is any Christian who does not wish to take part in animal sacrifice to renew these laws then that is certainly acceptable. But I believe that people who believe in the Bible and the God of Abraham must join together in an effort based on a mutual love of that God to save the world. There are many who have rejected Noah’s basic covenant, most notably in the points of murder (i.e. abortion and euthanasia), in sexual immorality, in stealing (socialism), rejecting courts of justice as we saw in the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, and in cursing God. The solution is to renew in every way the covenant that is in danger of being lost. The United Nations has declared abortion and euthanasia to be a human right and therefore is no longer part of this covenant.
A DISCLAIMER FOR JEWS
The sacrifice was absolutely halachically correct.
This law is described by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, known as Maimonides and by the acronym Rambam who was the foremost Torah authority of the 12th century. In his Mishneh Torah (Maaseh Hakorbanot 19:16) the Rambam wrote:
Gentiles are permitted to offer burnt offerings to God in all places, provided they sacrifice them on a raised structure that they build. It is forbidden to help them [offer these sacrifices] or act as agents for them, for we are forbidden to sacrifice outside [the Temple Courtyard]. It is permitted to instruct them and teach them how to sacrifice to the Almighty, blessed be He.
The altar must be built exclusively by non-Jews who observe the Noahide laws and the same is true of the sacrifice itself. Other than instructing the non-Jews, Jews are forbidden from taking part in the sacrifice, It is not because the sacrifice is idolatry. The sacrifice is absolutely for the service of God. We are forbidden from taking part because we have a separate requirement to make sacrifices to God that can only be performed on the Temple Mount.
And we are ignoring our service to God.
Jews accept the yoke of heaven twice a day. That includes the aspect of naaseh v’nishma (we hear and we obey). That requires us to perform the Torah commandments as they are written, without necessarily understanding since we are Hashem’s slaves. The Torah forbids us from using a secular court system and requires us to establish a system of bet din which includes a Sanhedrin of 71. Israel, preferably all of Israel, should come together and do so but instead, the religious Jews chose to subjugate themselves to the secular Zionist government and allow themselves to be governed by the Chief Rabbinate they established. The religious Jews decided to remain in galut (exile). That is not an option. Halacha must guide our lives. Halacha is decided based on the precise conditions that exist. Halacha requires that we bring two daily sacrifices to God as well as many others. Not performing the Pesach offering brings the punishment of Karet, the harshest punishment in the Torah. We are still required to do so since the Torah does not evolve or change.
I would rather not bring sacrifices but I have no choice. Neither can I sit back and not make an effort to do God’s explicit will. I cannot sit calmly after Yom Kippur and say, “Gee, I don’t have a sukkah so I guess I won’t dwell in one this year.”
This is especially true of Jews who do not live in Israel but the Jews who live in Israel should read the Bible.
Is it a time for you to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House is lying in ruins? Haggai 1:4
We are precisely guilty of this. Moshiach ben Yosef is in the advanced stages and we are content (well, not me) with reaping the material benefits of Moshiach while not recognizing our obligation to move forward.
The Sacrifice Experience and a Disclaimer for Animal Rights Activists
The person who performed the sacrifice was a last-minute-unexpected replacement who was wracked with awe. I prefer not to name him at this point because I have known him for one day and he is already one of my dearest friends and one of the sweetest men I have ever met. As anticipated, much of the reaction to the event has been hatred and I would not want my dear friend to be targeted by people who hate one of God’s commandments or the Noahide Covenant.
When Abraham set out to perform a sacrifice on Mount Moriah 5,000 years ago, things did not go as planned and that was also the case yesterday when we stood ready to perform a sacrifice on the mountain overlooking that site. As we drove from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives, we were informed that the man who flew in specifically to perform this sacrifice as the representative of the 70 nations descended from Noah canceled. How could we find a non-Jew who had sworn to uphold the Noahide laws AND had experience in sacrificing lambs? But just as God sent the lamb, such a man was found. He was reluctant and visibly traumatized by the request but he had come to Israel specifically because God had told him that he would perform this sacrifice even though someone else was supposed to do so. As a Jew, I did not believe that God spoke to him. As a part of the event, I could not deny what I had just witnessed.
I must admit that I was disappointed in some of the Jews that were there. My understanding was that this was necessarily not Jewish. Many Jews spoke, instructing in the proper intentions. One rabbi nervously tried to help light the fire and he had to be admonished. I understood them. As a Jew, I was scared for my life. Even more than that. The man doing the deed was admittedly not a mainstream character. But that was clearly what brought him there. Every Jew there was terrified that the man would lift the blade and declare, “In the name of Jesus” and then perform the sacrifice. I even approached the man and timidly asked him to be sure not to do so.
Before the sacrifice, he spoke. His speech danced through a theological minefield containing explosives hidden by both sides. After he spoke, I asked the rabbis if what he said was acceptable from a Jewish perspective and they all agreed it was, one rabbi saying, “It was perfect.” It would have been entirely unacceptable for a Jewish sacrifice but this was not, could not be, a Jewish sacrifice.
He hugged and kissed the small goat for half an hour, speaking to it gently. Until the entire human race eats solely vegetarian, I do not want to hear any criticism of the act. Every person there was transformed in the very core of their being, turned into a gentler, more intentional version of who they used to be. This act was the antithesis of bloodthirstiness or lust for meat. I will never eat meat again without thinking of the God who gave the animal life. There is an ongoing debate among the rabbis as to whether there will be animal sacrifices in the Third Temple and I sincerely hope that there will not be. It is not due to being revolted by the sight. I can bear it. What I cannot bear is the intensity of the experience. Witnessing an animal being sacrificed to God is so all-encompassing that I am afraid of losing myself, losing any vestige of free will I currently have in my relationship with God. I am shaking as I write this, feeling quite lost, knowing I must go through the same experience, albeit on a slightly lesser level, next week during Rosh Hashanna. I can argue Jewish law with my fellow Jews regarding this issue but I prefer to leave it on this emotional level.
And as he slit the animal’s throat he yelled out, “Abba, bring us home!”, saying this over and over. This phrase united us all, Jew and non-Jew, each person understanding it in his own way. I have an evil inclination that leads me to be harsh with my fellow Jews who do not come to Israel or who turn their backs on Israel in its times of need. When the man yelled this, I realized that really I loved my fellow Jews so much, missed them so much, that it led me to be angry at them. What father could keep the doors of heaven locked when his children lay outside, weeping to be allowed to come home? And I was faced with the uncomfortable realization that all of the Christians who were crying and praying had high expectations that I would play a key role in whatever they defined as ‘return’. As part of the “Kingdom of Priests,” I was compelled to do so.
After the sacrifice, it became intensely important for me to hug the man. I was wearing my best white Shabbat shirt and he was covered in blood. Perversely, I want to hug him tight until I was also covered in blood. I can explain this but I would prefer to keep this private. Suffice it to say, it was one of the purest desires I have ever felt. I fear that many will twist this into something ugly but this will happen even with the aspects I describe explicitly and in full detail. So I do not care to explain. I hope the vegetarians will understand that I am now considering becoming a vegetarian and would appreciate any advice in that matter. I hope the Christians understand that my strengthened desire to become a better Torah Jew is in order for me to serve my role in helping them to serve God in their manner. It would never occur for me to “make them Jewish.” For my fellow Jews, I am entirely humbled and am open to any rebuke you care to give me so long as it is done in the Torah mandated manner: in love. Because this is how we will come closer and that is the essence of the Temple and sacrifices (Yes, Korban).
I am still reeling because I am thoroughly convinced that this unprecedented act has changed the world. I already feel it shifting beneath my feet. I know that most people will hate it viciously. I have already witnessed some of this. I do not believe that God wins when he has the most people on his team. Each man is necessary and must find his unique pathway to God. Many ships cross the ocean but they cannot follow each other because they do not leave trails. Religion is a poor vessel to hold the infinite but it is the best we can manage. I know that the only mitzvah I have is to hate evil and my understanding of Christianity is that Jesus took this commandment of love one step further. For Christians who hate me and the Jews for what took place, I suggest that you already harbored a decidedly un-Christian hatred of the Jews and have found a new excuse. Judaism has never done Christianity any harm and this act harmed no one. Except one small lamb.
But I believe that is what God is trying to leech out of the world: hatred. Hatred has already cost the Jews one Temple and I pray it will not cost us another. The world is facing a new wave of hatred and has become polarized. Half of the world, perhaps more than half, is violating the second Noahide commandment by cursing God. The physical embodiment, the proof that God’s word is eternal, is the Jewish people in the land of Israel. There is no logical reason to hate Israel and many logical reasons not to. Anyone who hates Israel is doing so because the root of their hatred is a hatred of God. They want to be free and the sight of Israel prevents that. If a Christian uses the sacrifice as an excuse to hate Israel, then they are joining that side. You are free to object, to say that this is not how you serve God. But there is no reason why one tiny sacrifice on a mountaintop in Israel should lead you to hate all of the Jews. That is your sin, not mine.