Yesterday, we addressed the question concerning the obligatory aliya re-regel pilgrimage on Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, whether or not it is inherently linked to the requirement to offer special holiday sacrifices on these occasions. The Rambam, in Sefer Ha-mitzvot (asei 53), appears to indicate that the aliya le-regel obligation is defined as a requirement to appear in the Temple and offer a sacrifice. However, Sefat Emet (beginning of Maskehet Chagiga) proposed that the relationship between aliya le-regel and the obligatory holiday sacrifice might be purely incidental. Since the Torah in Parashat Re’ei (16:16) forbids appearing in the Temple on these occasions “reikam” (“emptyhanded”), without a sacrifice, one cannot fulfill the mitzva of aliya le-regel without a sacrifice, as an act which violates a Torah prohibition cannot fulfill a mitzva. In essence, the mitzva of aliya le-regel requires only visiting the Mikdash, but since there is a prohibition to visit the Mikdash on these occasions “emptyhanded,” one cannot fulfill a mitzva by visiting the Temple without a sacrifice.
Rav Asher Weiss (Minchat Asher, Parashat Re’ei) notes two possible sources for the first perspective, that the aliya le-regel obligation is inherently – and not just incidentally – linked to the festival sacrifice. The Or Samei’ach (Hilkhot Chagiga 1:1), as Rav Weiss cites, draws our attention to a passage in Torat Kohanim (Parashat Acharei-Mot) which compares the mitzva of aliya le-regel to the kohen gadol’s entry into the inner sanctum of the Beit Ha-mikdash on Yom Kippur. Just as all men are required to be present in the Beit Ha-mikdash on the three pilgrimage festivals, similarly, the kohen gadol is required to be present in the kodesh ha-kodashim – the inner chamber of the Temple – on Yom Kippur. Clearly, the Or Samei’ach writes, the kohen gadol’s obligation on Yom Kippur is to enter the inner sanctum for the purpose of performing the special atonement rituals there. It thus follows from the comparison drawn by Torat Kohanim that the mitzva of aliya le-regel is defined as an obligation to go to the Mikdash for the purpose of offering sacrifices – just as a kohen gadol is obligated on Yom Kippur to enter the kodesh ha-kodashim for the purpose of performing the special atonement rituals.
Rav Weiss notes also a different source – the Gemara’s ruling in Masekhet Chagiga (4a) that those who are unfit to enter the Temple grounds cannot send their holiday sacrifices through a messenger. Normally, a person who is tamei (ritually impure) and thus forbidden from entering the Beit Ha-mikdash is able to offer sacrifices by proxy, by sending the animal to the Temple for sacrificing with an appointed agent. In the case of the obligatory festival sacrifices, however, the Gemara establishes that only those who are able to personally come to the Beit Ha-mikdash on the festival bring the festival sacrifices. This halakha would certainly appear to reflect a close link between the mitzva of aliya le-regel and the obligation to offer sacrifices, such that the two are interdependent on one another. Rav Weiss speculates that the Rambam inferred from the Gemara’s discussion that just as there is no mitzva to offer sacrifices without making the pilgrimage to the Beit Ha-mikdash, likewise, making the pilgrimage does not fulfill any mitzva without the offering of the festival sacrifices. Once the Gemara establishes that the festival sacrifices do not fulfill a mitzva without visiting the Temple, it follows that the reverse is also true – one cannot fulfill a mitzva by visiting the Temple without offering sacrifices. And thus the Rambam concluded that the mitzva of aliya le-regel by definition requires bringing sacrifices, and not only appearing in the Mikdash.