QORBAN / CORBAN
The literal meaning of “Qorban” is “that which is brought near.” It was an offering made to God in the Temple to substitute an obligation. The person who offers such an offering for replacement of responsibility could not withdraw it later.
Jesus opposed the Jewish practice of “Qorban.” The Pharisees and Scribes came from Jerusalem and criticized Jesus because his disciples did not observe the ceremonial washing of hands before eating. Jesus’ response was his counter argument against the Jewish practice of Qurban to escape God’s commandment to care for the parents.
According to Jesus, Qurban was a human tradition to substitute the divine commandment God gave through Moses: “Honor your father and your mother,” and “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (Mk 7:10). In Jesus’ words, “You say, If a person says to father or mother, ‘Any support you might have had from me is qorban’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things” (Mk 7:11-13).
The temple authorities encouraged Qorban because they would benefit from the offerings made in the name of God. Jesus condemned such practices because no temple offering could substitute the love and care the children had to give to the elderly parents, especially when they needed the support. Since it was against the commandment of God, such an offering was not pleasing to God. Thus, Jesus was proving how the Jewish religious leaders were manipulating God’s commandments by substituting their own traditions.
Once a “corban” was offered, the person was free from any obligation to the parents. He could not reverse that by himself even if he changes his mind considering the needs of his parents. The exception should be sought from a wise man who had to approve formally to care for the parents whose services were already paid by corban. Jesus criticized that practice because the elderly and weak parents were suffering out of such false teachings and traditions the leaders had developed against the will of God.
Unlike animals, the humans have to care for their children for years for their growth and formation. When parents are elderly and helpless, the children have to take care of their parents. If one can serve the elderly parents, sending them for residence-based institutional care or ignoring them are common in the modern world. The children, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly need the love and support of family while obtaining professional help from institutions for such people.