Off the Pulpit

In Defense of Sacrifices

Reading of sacrifices in the Bible, many are mortified to think that ancient Israelites would slaughter animals at the Temple. It seems primitive, bloody, even barbaric. As someone who has not eaten chicken or meat in over thirty years, I nonetheless want to defend the practice.

When we buy meat, most of us do so after the animal has been killed, sliced up, packaged, and priced. We never confront the reality of our purchase or of our appetites. We don’t see the actual butchery and don’t think about it. The killing itself, even when it is kosher, has nothing like the sense of sanctity and awe that surrounds sacrifice in the Temple. Those animals were prayed over, offered up with awe, and most of those sacrifices were eaten as well, by the Priests.

So which is better: A distant slaying followed by a sanitized presentation or a sacred acknowledgment that all life is given by God and taken with a consciousness of God? As a vegetarian, I prefer the latter.