Monday, April 25, 2016

When did sacrifice on Passover cease?

HISTORY AND POLITICS: Why Jews Stopped Sacrificing Lambs and Baby Goats for Passover. And why some have started trying to perform it on the Temple Mount again (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).
This ancient ritual [of sacrifice of Passover lambs in the Temple] abruptly came to an end in 70 C.E., when the Romans put down the Jews’ Great Revolt and destroyed the Temple. At this point, what remained of the Jewish population in Judea had to decide how Passover would be celebrated.

The task of adapting Judaism to its new Temple-less reality fell to Rabban Gamaliel II, head of the Jewish Assembly – the Sanhedrin. With regard to the Passover sacrifice, Gamaliel decreed that the sacrifice should continue in family homes, with each family sacrificing its own goat or sheep.

However, other rabbis believed that the Passover sacrifice, like all the other sacrifices, could only be conducted by the priests in the Temple and that, like the other sacrifices, should not be conducted until the Messiah comes and the Temple is rebuilt.

Some Jews followed Gamaliel and continued to sacrifice goats and sheep in their homes on Passover; others didn’t and saw the practice as apostasy.

Within about two generations, the practice ceased when the anti-sacrifice camp assumed control and threatened to excommunicate those who practiced it. So, sometime in the second century C.E., Jews stopped the practice of sacrificing baby goats and sheep on Passover. Until recently, that is.
The traditions about how exactly the Passover lamb ceased to be sacrificed were written down long after the event and should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. But the sacrifice did indeed end sometime after the destruction of the Temple. As for the recent attempt to revive the practice, see here