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Yom Kippur Ritual


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

29 Elul 5767
Thank you for this web site first of all. I have been looking at the ritual of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah and have some questions. Any answers will be appreciated. 1. What is the significance of the High Priest sprinkling the bull’s blood up once then down seven times? Lev. 16: 14 It seems a small question but G-d is not capricous to be served so specifically without reason. 2. I read an article that said the blood of the bull was sprinkled on the viel and then the blood of the goat was sprinkled on the viel. Then they were mixed and sprinkled on the alter of incence and the alter of sacrifice. What is the purpose of mixing the blood of the bull and the goat? 3. After the blood was sprinkled and poured out at the alter of sacrifice the High Priest would still place his hands on the "scapegoat" to take away the sins of the nation. Is this a picture of what the Messiah will do on the most Holiest day taking the sins of the nation away, not just "atoning" or making a covering for them? 4. It is said that after some time the "scapegoat" was pushed off of a ciff so it wouldn’t be able to return and bring the sins with it. When did this start? Was it at one of the darker periods of Israel’s history, maybe around Queen Athaliah ( you know, not wanting the sins to come back)? 5. Tradition also says that the scarlet rope tied around the "scapegoats" head would turn white if, or when the sins were forgiven. Then during the 1st century tradition says the scarlet rope stopped turning white for the first time. How could this be observed if the "scapegoat" was being pushed off a cliff? Did the tradition of pushing the "scapegoat" off a cliff stop? Sorry if there was a limit. The more I study the more I realize I really don’t know much. Can you help me?
Your questions amount to quite a package. I will try to answer as many as I can. 1 and 2. The Rabbis teach us (Torat Cohanim) that the bull (cow) serves as an atonement for the sin of the golden calf while the goat atones for the sin of the selling of Yodef. That is to say, that the first serves as a paradygm for the blemishes in our service of G-d, while the second relates to the travesties of or relationships between man and man. Therefor the bull is bought by the high priest, who is responsible for the temple worship, while the goat is purchased from communal funds. The sprinkling of the blood in the Holy of Holies and on the veil (parochet) represent the atonement on the ideological level, that is purifying our Torah learning and commitment to properly observing all of the commandments. The blood on the alter represents the purification of our deeds and behavior. For this reason, the first sprinklings are done with each type of blood seperately, for on the theoretical level, social norms and ritual practice must be studied and understood each in its own context. But the sprinkling on the alter combines both, because in actual practice the distinction is blurred, and in fact not relevent. The laws of prayer include rules about not disturbing another person, respect for the community, and when to interrupt for reasons of etiquette. Business laws require great self controle and fear of heave. The first sets of sprinkling are 1 upwards and 7 downwards, indicationg the the complete application of Torah in the world (represented by the number seven) derives from the One above. The sprinklings on the alter start at the corners, the perifery, to indicate thet actions must be correwcted from the "outside", that is in the small details, to aceive a complete teshuva indicated by the seven sprinklings on the center of the alter. 3. Placing the hands (smicha) is part of "vidui" - confession. Each Jew must confess and repent his sins. The Priest does this symbolically for all of us to teach us thye way. We are each responsible for personal confession and repentance, even in the time of the temple. 4. I believe that pushing the goat off the cliff symbolically represents the total rejection of the sinful aspects of our behaviour and personality. It is such a rare event because generally sacrifice represents raising our aninimal aspects and nature to the service of Hashem and not rejecting them. However, sometimes the sinfullness must be dismissed entirely and iretrievably. I believe that the interpretation of the scapegoat is part and parcel of Mosaic tradition and find no reason to ascribe this ritual to "darker periods" or a pagan queen. 5. the scarlet string (ribbon, rope) was spklit in two. Half was kept in the temple, and miraculously turned white when the goat was pushed off the cliff. When this stopped happening during the second temple period the second half was no longer displayed. Shana Tova
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