10 October 2016

Lessons from Azazel

Lessons from Azazel 

The goat which is sent to Azazel (Vayikra 16:8) on Yom Kippur is one of the queerest phenomena in Torah. This is a form of offering and one of the Kadashim, yet it has almost none of the aspects of the offerings. But it has such efficacy that it achieves what no offerings can. All the atonement sacrifices can atone only
for sins committed unwittingly (Shogeg) but not for sins that were intentionally committed. Even unintentional sins require repentance as a condition of atonement. But the goat of Azazel atones for everything:

1) even for willful sins (unless punishable by Karas) and
2) even if the sinner failed to repent (Rambam, Teshuvah 1:2).

Why does the goat of Azazel possess such potency?

There is another anomaly. All offerings require slaughtering, the blood is sprinkled on the altar, and some of the offering is burned on the altar. But the goat of Azazel

1) is not slaughtered, and
2) nothing of it comes upon the altar.

The sole form of service, after the casting of lots (Vayikra 16:8) and the confession of sins which the Cohen Gadol makes over the goat of Azazel (ibid. 16:21), is to lead it away and to hurl it off a  mountaintop so that it is dashed to pieces, and yet it achieves a greater atonement than any offering: 

“The he-goat will carry away all their sins.” 
(Vayikra 16:22) 


A key to this riddle is found in Yalkut Shimoni (ibid.):

“The he-goat is Esav.” Esav is symbolised by the Sair (he-goat). He was born with a hairy body (Ish Sair—Breshis 27:11), and the land which he subsequently settled was called Seir (ibid.36:8). Thus the Torah declares: “The he-goat (Sair) will carry away all their sins (Avo’notam)” which hints: Avonos Tam, the sins of Jacob, “the perfect man” (Ish Tam— Breshis 25:27). Esav bears the sins of Jacob. This signifies: the sins of the Jews, whatever they are, are due

1) to the pernicious example provided by Esav, and
2) to the persecutions in- flicted by him.

If one studies our history he will perceive that Esav’s influence was the chief cause of any misdeeds among us (although Israel never was guilty of so many and so heinous sins as those of the nations). Besides idolatry, the nations have pioneered in bloodshed, immorality, frivolous pastimes and literature, atheism, false religions, and corruption of the truth in many ways.

Further, it was due to the persecution by Esav that so many Jews forsook their homes and wandered off to mingle with the nations everywhere. When we become rid of Esav’s influence and persecutions, we are a perfect nation.

Therefore we are shown the solution: to be rid of the influence of Esav, as is symbolised by the procedure of the Sair of Azazel. When it is hurled from the cliff and is dashed to pieces, then all the sins of the perfect Jacob are wiped out. Which signifies:

Be freed from the influence of the nations in every way. The road to atonement is solely in this direction.

What's Your Mission in Life?
The mission of man in this world is to pursue the closeness to Hashem. The learning of Torah is for the purpose of coming closer. (Everybody is included; the ladies and the girls should feel that I am speaking directly to them even though they are not going to study gemara.)... But whatever it is, it’s the coming closer that I want to emphasize, not merely the words of studying Torah. — Adam's Ordeal (#28)

What Is Special about Teshuva?
Realize what a great miracle teshuva (repentance) is: To undo the past, to wipe out what happened before, is something we cannot understand. It is a miracle that teshuva helps, and for this miracle we’re expected to be grateful to Hashem.

What Kindliness Is There in Gehinnom (purgatory)?
"Without the Gehinnom, this world would not be a world of Kindliness. Should the tyrant who murdered millions of innocent men be permitted to swallow a perfumed poison and escape painlessly? Kindliness to the victims requires that the blood of each one should be fully avenged. The Gehinnom is thus essential in a world of Kindliness, Purpose and Wisdom.

What Can You Accomplish on Yom Kippur?
On Yom Kippur, we’re speaking only to Hashem. We’re asking Him to give us all these things. You’re educating yourself in bitachon, trusting only in Him. The more you think on Yom Kippur of this great principle that all you want comes only from Him, the more He’ll reward your trust.

Source: Words of Wisdom from Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l

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