Tag Archives: Rabbi Ishmael

Re-writing Korbanot, part I: intro and the Harlow approach

This is a two-parter. Part II is here.

Korbanot is a highly variable recitation of biblical and talmudic passages on the minutiae of sacrificial ritual in The Temple. The notion is that sacrifice was the most legitimate way to access God and that reciting the laws about how to do it was equal to actually performing the sacrifices.

The dominant modern view is that sacrifice is over and it’s not coming back. Prayer suffices in its stead. I once had an idea about how to create a replacement for the Korbanot section of the service that would reflect this reality. That’s what Part II is about.

While flipping through Or Hadash, Reuven Hammer’s commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, I noticed that Jules Harlow, Sim Shalom‘s editor, had created a replacement for Korbanot.

Like the Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book, Morris Silverman’s 1946 Conservative siddur, Harlow included the last passage in the Korbanot section, Rabbi Ishmael’s 13 principles of biblical interpretation, in SS. Building on Silverman’s minimal acknowledgment of the Korbanot passages, Harlow went one step further. Rather then merely excising the bulk of the section, he added several passages from rabbinic literature in their stead.

The first is perfect. It’s Avot d’Rabbi Natan 11a, which describes Yochanan Ben Zakai walking with his disciple away from Jerusalem. From where they are, they can see the Temple in ruins. The disciple is distraught, but Ben Zakai says, “There is another way of gaining atonement even though The Temple is destroyed. We must now gain atonement through deeds of lovingkindness.”

From there, Harlow presents a selection of passages from rabbinic literature. The way Harlow arranges them, they seem to be explanations of how to do what Ben Zakai suggests. They are all about lovingkindness. It’s not exactly what I would have done if I’d ever gotten it together to do my version of this, but I think it’s pretty damn clever..