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The Scapegoat

A central aspect of the Yom Kippur service in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was the lot that was cast between two rams. One was offered as a sacrifice on the altar, and the second was the scapegoat, sent to “azazel” – in other words, it was cast off a mountainous ridge onto the rocks below, as an atonement for the sins of Israel.

The “ram to azazel” is also considered a sacrifice, but of a different type. We are not offering the king something good, but pushing away evil, which in its way, also brings pleasure to the king.

The pleasure given to G-d by pushing away evil will acquire a deeper meaning in the Time to Come. As is known, mitzvot are divided into two categories, positive and negative. The positive mitzvot add holiness to the world, while negative mitzvot prevent the forces of impurity from gaining strength. When Moshiach comes, evil will no longer exist , so what purpose will be served by the negative commandments?

The explanation is that when we refrain from committing a sin we give joy to the One above, and this pleasure will remain even in the World to Come and will bring down lofty spiritual revelations.

This is also an explanation for the spiritual advantage of teshuvah that will remain even in the World to Come. Through teshuvah, we transform our sins into merits. When Moshiach comes, we will no longer have any sins. Nevertheless, we will still have an opportunity for teshuvah -- to return our soul to a higher level than it was previously, and thus receive the benefits of teshuvah.

(Hitvaaduyot 5744, vol. 1, p. 116)
 

 


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