Day 2: The Scapegoat

Day 2: The Scapegoat
א׳ אלול

ראש חודש אלול

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ–לְפִי שְׁהוּא כַּפָּרָה לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, כּוֹהֵן גָּדוֹל מִתְוַדֶּה עָלָיו עַל לְשׁוֹן כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲו‍ֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל” (ויקרא טז,כא). 

שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ מְכַפֵּר עַל כָּל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, הַקַּלּוֹת וְהַחֲמוּרוֹת, בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בִּשְׁגָגָה, בֵּין שֶׁהוֹדַע לוֹ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדַע לוֹ–הַכֹּל מִתְכַּפֵּר בְּשָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ: וְהוּא, שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה; אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, אֵין הַשָּׂעִיר מְכַפֵּר לוֹ אֵלָא עַל הַקַּלּוֹת.

וּמַה הֶן הַקַּלּוֹת, וּמַה הֶן הַחֲמוּרוֹת: הַחֲמוּרוֹת הֶן הָעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁחַיָּבִין עֲלֵיהֶן מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אוֹ כָּרֵת; וּשְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא וְשֶׁקֶר–אַף עַל פִּי שְׁאֵין בָּהּ כָּרֵת, הֲרֵי הִיא מִן הַחֲמוּרוֹת. וּשְׁאָר מִצְווֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, וּמִצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה שְׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת–הֶן הַקַּלּוֹת.

The High Priest utters the confession over the goat that is sent away, which acts as an atonement for all Israel. He does this with reference to the entire Jewish people, as it is written (Leviticus 16:21), and he will confess over it all the sins of all the children of Israel.

The goat that is sent away atones for all sins in the Torah, the lighter ones and the stricter ones, whether one transgressed them intentionally or unintentionally, whether one was aware of them or not. All sins receive atonement through the goat that is sent away. This is true as long as a person does teshuvah. Without teshuvah, the goat atones for lighter sins only.

What are these lighter sins, and what are the stricter sins? The stricter sins are those for which a person would be subject to the death penalty by a human court or excision. False oaths and lies, even though they do not carry the penalty of excision, are included in the category of stricter sins. All other negative commandments, as well as positive commandments that do not carry the penalty of excision, are included in the category of lighter sins.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th edition, 2017)

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