Animal Offerings Today
I was reading the Book of Leviticus and this got me wondering: Why don't Jews bring animal offerings today? I know there is no Holy Temple in Jerusalem, but does that prevent any offerings from being done?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
Once the Temple was built in Jerusalem (approx. 3,000 years ago), it became permanently forbidden to offer sacrifices anywhere else but there on the Temple Mount.
Technically, we can offer sacrifices on the Temple Mount even when there is no Holy Temple (Talmud - Zevachim 107b), but there are other legal reasons that prohibit this today. Below are some of the main ones.
1. It is necessary to have the ashes of a red heifer to rectify certain issues of impurity. The unique feature of this cow is that it must be three years old and can have no more than one non-red hair. This rare animal is very difficult to obtain. (Mishna - Parah 1:1, 2:5)
2. The Kohanim must wear special clothing that contains a particular dye called "techelet." This was a bluish color, obtained from the fluid of a sea creature called the Chilazon. At this time, we do not have an unambiguous tradition from the time of the Sages exactly which animal is used. But this will be revealed with the coming of the Messiah.
3. The Kohanim (priests) must officiate at the animal offerings, and until the arrival of the Messiah (who will clarify everyone's genealogy), it is not entirely certain who is a bona fide Kohen.
4. The Torah mandates that sacrifices may only be offered on the grounds of the Temple Mount itself, as stated in Deuteronomy 12:5. Presently, the Temple Mount is inaccessible due to political considerations with the Muslims.
May the Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days!