Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 17   No. 49

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Shabbos Yom Kipur

The Sa'ir la'Azazel
(Adapted from the Rambam,
Hilchos Avodas Yom ha'Kipurim, Perek 3)

1. The two lots: On one of them was written 'la'Hashem'; on the other 'la'Azazel'. They could be written on anything - on wood, on stone or on metal. The were not however, permitted to be different sizes, one large and one small; or one of silver, the other of gold. Both had to be equal. In the era of the second Beis-Hamikdash, they made them of gold. They placed the two lots in a receptacle that could contain two hands, so that the Kohen Gadol would be able to place both hands in it 'without any intention' (quickly). This receptacle, which was made of wood, was called 'Kalpi'.

2. Where did the lottery take place? They placed the Kalpi on the east side of the Azarah, north of the Mizbei'ach, and there they stood the two goats, facing the west (the Kodesh Kodshim), with their backs to the east. The Kohen Gadol then walked to that spot, with the S'gan (the deputy Kohen Gadol) on his right and the Rosh Beis-Av (the head of the current Beis Av of Kohanim) on his left. The two goats stood in front of him, one to his right, and one to his left.

3. He placed his hands inside the Kalpi and snatched out the two lots, one in each hand, having in mind the two goats, and opened his hands. If the lot for 'Sheim' came up in his right hand, the S'gan would announce 'My master the Kohen Gadol; Raise your right hand!' And if it came up in his left hand, he would announced 'My master the Kohen Gadol; Raise your left hand!' He then placed the two lots on the two goats, the right lot on the right goat, the left lot on the left goat. If he failed to do so it did not matter - only he missed out on a Mitzvah - since the Hanachah (placing the lots) is not crucial; the Hagralah (the actual lottery) however, is, even though it does not fall under the category of an Avodah. Consequently, the Hanachah may be performed by a Zar (a non-Kohen); removing the lots may not.

4. He (the Kohen Gadol) then tied a piece of red wool weighing two Sela'im on the head of the Sa'ir ha'Mishtalei'ach, which he stood beside the location from where it was due to be sent out (to the desert), and the goat that was going to be Shechted (the Sa'ir la'Hashem) beside the location where it was due to be Shechted, after which he Shechted the Chatas bull that was for him and the goat whose lot came up for Hashem.

The next two Halachos deal with the Avodah of the Par and the Sa'ir, whereas we are concerned with that of the Sa'ir la'Azazel …

7. He then sent the live goat with a man who had been designated to take it into the desert. Anyone was in fact eligible to take it, only the Kohanim Gedolim made it a fixture not to allow a Yisrael to do it (only a Kohen). All the way from Yerushalayim till the beginning of the desert they set up Succos (huts) in each of which a man or even a number of men, would sit. These men would accompany the man leading the goat from Succah to Succah. As they arrived at each Succah they would say to him - 'Here's food! Here's water!' In the event that he felt weak and needed to eat, he was permitted to do so; in fact however, it never happened that he needed to! The men in the last Succah were actually standing at the limits of the T'chum Shabbos, so they could only watch from a distance as he completed the Mitzvah. And what did he subsequently do?

He divided the piece of red wool which was placed between the horns of the goat into two, half he tied on the rock, and half between the goat's horns. Then he pushed it backwards, and it proceeded to roll down the mountainside. Before it even reached halfway, all its limbs had already broken up. The man would then return to the last hut, where he would remain until nightfall.

They would arrange large stones (between the Beis-ha'Mikdash and the desert), on which guards stood with flags, to inform them when the goat reached the desert. The moment the Kohen Gadol sent the goat with the man who took it out to the desert, he returned to the bull and the goat, whose blood he had already sprinkled inside (the Kodesh Kodshim and the Kodesh) … . 8. As soon as the goat reached the desert, the Kohen Gadol went to the Ezras Nashim to Lein.

* * *


When Yitzchak sent Eisav to hunt venison before blessing him, Rivkah ordered Ya'akov to go to the flock, to fetch two good kid-goats for him to take to his father. Citing the Medrash, R. Bachye, commenting on the word "good", explains that these goats would be good for Ya'akov and good for his children; good for Ya'akov, in that through them, he would take the B'rachos from his brother Eisav (who was also described as 'Ish So'ir' [a hairy man, but which also means 'a goat']). Good for his sons, because through them (one goat for Hashem and one for Az'azel) Yisrael would later receive atonement for their sins, and would be spared from the prosecution of Sama'el (alias the Satan), Eisav's angel.


Sama'el's tongue is tied on account of the bribe that we give him, when we send the Sa'ir to the rocky territory over which Se'ir's angel rules, thereby rendering him incapable of prosecuting us. That is why, as the commentaries commenting on the word 'ha'Soton', whose Gematriyah is 364, explain - every day of the year the Satan is able to accuse us of sinning, with the sole exception of Yom Kipur, when he is tongue-tied - because he accepted a bribe. Pirkei de'R. Eliezer goes even further. He explains that Sama'el actually praises Yisrael and tells Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu that His people resemble angels, in that, among other things, they are free of sin.


And this is what the Medrash means, says R. Bachye, when it states "And the goat shall carry" … The Sa'ir, which refers to Eisav; 'all their sins (es kol avonosom) - acronym of 'avonos tam'; (the sins of Ya'akov, who was called 'Tam').


After Ya'akov left the house of Lavan, the Pasuk in Vayishlach describes the series of gifts that Ya'akov sent his brother Eisav, prior to their actual meeting. Rashi explains that this was in fact, the first of the three things that Ya'akov did (gift, prayer and battle) in preparation for the forthcoming meeting. The Ramban, citing a Medrash, explains how the Chachamim in later generations took their cue from Ya'akov and adopted the habit of bribing the Roman officials. In fact, the Medrash relates how, on one occasion, one of the sages forgot to offer the bribe, as a result of which they stripped him of all his belongings and he barely escaped with his life.

The Parshah of the Sa'ir la'Azazel teaches us that Eisav and his descendants inherited this weakness from their Guardian Angel Sama'el, who as we see, is susceptible to bribes. All one needs to do is to give him a goat and he turns a blind eye to all of K'lal Yisrael's sins.


Killing a Dead Man

The Sa'ir la'Azazel was taken to its death by, what the Torah refers to as 'an Ish Iti' (a man who has been designated [see also Rashbam]).

Quoting the Tikunim, others explains that they chose a man who was destined to die during the coming year. The reason for that, R. Bachye explains, is because of a tradition that whoever took the goat out to the Desert, would not survive the forthcoming year. So to avoid causing the death of an independent appointee, they chose to appoint someone who was destined to die anyway.


So Should Our Sins Disintegrate

After drawing lots to determine which goat goes to Hashem and which goat to Azazel, Aharon sent the Sa'ir la'Azazel carrying all of Yisrael's sins, out to the desert, where it was finally pushed off a cliff. As it fell, Chazal tell us, it broke up into tint fragments.

The Medrash Agadah explains that this ceremony, beginning with placing the goat under G-d's jurisdiction by means of the lots, and ending with the fall and disintegration of the goat, represents a silent prayer to the King of Kings, that just as the goat carrying our sins breaks up into tiny fragments until nothing of it remains whole, so too, may He fragmentize our sins and remove them from His Book, so that nothing of them remains intact!

* * *

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim & the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Tevilah on Erev Yom-Kipur

Everyone is obligated to Tovel in a Mikvah on Erev Yom Kipur, even if he is not Tamei Tum'as Keri. The reason for this, the Magen Avraham explains, is because the Tevilah on Yom Kipur is not to remove Tum'as Keri, but because of Teshuvah.

Consequently, one Tovels three times (presumably corresponding either to deeds, speech and thoughts, that comprise every area of sin, or Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah, comprising the three parts of man).

The Mitzvah to Toveil applies even to an Aveil, who should do so a short time before Sheki'ah.


Viduy on Erev Yom Kipur

We recite Viduy on Erev Yom Kipur during Minchah, in case one chokes during the Se'udah ha'Mafsekes and dies without having done Teshuvah.

The Tur Barekes explains that the reason for the early Viduy is, so that, at least now, should a person choke, he will at least die free of sin.

It seems to me however, that reciting Viduy before the Se'udah is meant to prevent such an accident from happening. After all, having survived the year without choking whilst eating, the incidence of it happening specifically during the Se'udah ha'Mafsekes is extremely remote.

And the reason for reciting Viduy early is to preempt the Satan from achieving his wishes. The Satan will do everything in his power to prevent us from doing Teshuvah on Yom Kipur. Consequently, to prevent him from pulling a fast one on us and stopping us from doing Teshuvah by means of a fatal accident before 'Kol Nidrei', we pull a fast one on him and do Teshuvah before he has a chance to stop us.


Why Do We Fast?

A reason that we fast, says the Chizkuni, is because the Torah records how, at Har Sinai, they 'saw' G-d; then they ate and drank, after which they worshipped the Eigel. So, on Yom Kipur, the day that the second Luchos were given, we refrain from eating to prevent us from repeating the sin.


Kol Nidrei

The reason that 'Kol Nidrei' is written in Arama'ic and not in Lashon ha'Kodesh, like the vast majority of Tefilos are, is simply because it was written in Bavel, where Aramai'ic was the spoken language (whereas most other Tefilos were composed by Ezra and the Sanhedrin, in Eretz Yisrael).

The reason that everyone quietly says 'Kol Nidrei' together with the Chazaen, says the Hagahos Minhagim, is in order to annul the Nedarim of the Chazan even as, together with the two men who flank him holding Sifrei Torah, he annuls ours, since a person cannot annul his own Nedarim.


Forcing G-d's Hand

R. Yisrael from Rud'zin gave the following Mashal to explain the conclusion of the middle B'rachah of the Yom Kipur Amidah ('Melech mochel ve'solei'ach la'avonoseinu … ').

There was once a father who had had an only son of whom he was extremely fond. And one of the signs of the love that he bore him was a game that he used to play with him when he (the son) was very young. He would offer him an apple, and then, as the little boy stretched out his hand to take it, he would withdraw his own hand together with the apple. He would repeat this a number of times; whenever his son attempted to take the apple that was being offered to him, the father would quickly pull it back. The father enjoyed this game immensely, but what he failed to realize was that his son, who badly wanted the apple, did not.

One day, the little boy hit on an idea. When his father held out the apple, he recited the B'rachah 'Borei P'ri ho'Eitz'. This time, the son knew, his father would not pull the apple back, but would hand it to him immediately, to prevent him from making a B'rachah le'vatalah.


And that is precisely, what we do in the Yom Kipur Amidah. We have no way of knowing whether G-d will pardon our sins or not; perhaps, for some reason or other, He will withdraw from the anticipated S'lichah and Mechilah at the last minute. So we all say 'Melech mochel ve'solei'ach la'avonoseinu … '. We know that G-d loves us and would never allow us to make a B'rachah le'Vatalah. Consequently, He is left with no other alternative than to comply and to pardon our sins.


The Musaf of Yom Kipur

The Korban Musaf comprises one, bull, one ram, seven lambs (all Olos) and one goat as a Chatos.

One bull, the Oros ha'Mitzvah explains, represents the great and awesome day Yom Kipur; and one ram (Ayil Echad), the One G-d, whose oneness is total and all-embracing, and who, in His power ('Eilus') graciously pardons the sins of His people Yisrael.

The seven lambs, he explains, represent the seven levels of Teshuvah. Someone who does Teshuvah …

1. … immediately after sinning;

2. … after sinning a number of times, he does Teshuvah by overcoming the urge to sin again when he is confronted by it; 3. … in his youth but without desisting the temptation to sin again;

4. … out of fear, after receiving threats of punishment should he continue in his evil ways (like the men of Ninveh at the hand of Yonah).

5. … only after many troubles have overtaken him, as the Pasuk says in Va'eschanan (4:30) "When you are in trouble … then you return to Hashem").

6. … in his old age.

7. … on his death-bed when he sees that he is about to die. Although this is the lowest level of Teshuvah, nevertheless it will be accepted provided it is done with a full heart.


G-d commanded one more goat (Sa'ir) that is brought as a Chatas, as a hint to the Satan, who is also nicknamed 'Sa'ir', to remind him that on Yom-Kipur, he is not permitted to prosecute K'lal Yisrael.


As Yom Kipur Draws to a Close

We say 'Baruch Sheim' loud three times, the Mateh Moshe explains, a. corresponding to the triumvirate that comprises K'lal Yisrael - Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisre'eilim, and b. corresponding to 'Hashem Moloch' (before the world was created, 'Hashem Melech' (in this world) and 'Hashem Yimloch' (in the World to Come).


And the reason that we say 'Hashem Hu ha'Elokim' seven times, he explains, corresponds to Matan Torah, when G-d opened the seven Heavens and showed Yisrael that "Ein Od mi'Levado" (there is none besides Him).

Alternatively, it is a sign of the parting Shechinah, which we help elevate as it makes its journey back from this world from one world to the other until it reaches its home location in the seventh Heaven.


And, quoting the Shivlei Leket, he attributes blowing the Shofar to the fact that, the moment Yom-Kipur is over, the Satan regains his power to accuse us of sinning. So we blow the Shofar to scold him (maybe in order to hinder him in his work). Perhaps, one may add, it is to remind us to continue the process that we began of not sinning. And we end the season like we began it - when, at the beginning of Elul, we blew the Shofar to remind us not to sin.

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