440. No Exit: The obligation to offer sacrifices only in the Temple

Only in the place that Hashem will designate…there you shall offer… (Deuteronomy 12:14)

Many things are the subject of both a positive and a negative mitzvah (keep Shabbos/don't violate Shabbos, fast on Yom Kippur/don't eat on Yom Kippur, etc.). Here, we have a commandment to only offer sacrifices in the Temple, which is a positive mitzvah balanced against Mitzvah #439's prohibition against offering sacrifices outside of the Temple.

As we have stated, the reason for this mitzvah is that the Temple is supposed to serve as the spiritual heart of the nation. The Divine service was meant to be performed only there, which is why God more patently manifested a feeling of His presence there. To offer sacrifices elsewhere detracts from the sanctity of the Temple.

This mitzvah applies to men and women in all times and places. In the Talmud, it is the topic of the thirteenth chapter of tractate Zevachim, starting on page 106a. It is codified in the Mishneh Torah in the eighteenth chapter of Hilchos Maaseh HaKorbanos and is #84 of the 248 positive mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos. This mitzvah is not listed in the Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar of the Chofetz Chaim.