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WHAT FAMILIES ARE SAYING ABOUT YCT

L’chvod Rav Avi, Rabbi Lopatin, Rabbi Linzer, Rabbi Love, Rav Katz and the rest of the faculty and staff, Obviously, we are grateful that you have created a holy place of learning for both Chai and Tzachi. But do you realize the profound influence you have had and continue to have in our lives? Thank you for helping us to create an open orthodox home where Torah is observed consciously. Thank you for modeling for us how to live the Torah that we learn. Thank you for helping us to raise our children with the knowledge that they could question anything that did not make sense to them, and that that is a proper and healthy attitude to apply to all aspects of Torah living. It brings us tremendous comfort and gives us strength knowing that Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is here to inspire and guide all of us.

With heartfelt thanks,
Estelle and Harvey Posner
Parents of Chai Posner (YCT ’10) and Tzachi Posner (YCT ’17)

What Communities Are Saying About YCT Rabbis

Eytan Yammer has provided remarkable leadership in the synagogue and the community. Rabbi Yammer’s sensitivity and learning have been a great gift for the congregation, which is made up of members with extremely diverse backgrounds and practices. And Rabbi Yammer carries his deep knowledge with humility… He and Marisa are respected and loved in the community.


Daniel J. Siegel

Knesseth Israel Congregation

Birmingham, Alabama

 
Home arrow Learning arrow Parshat Acharei Mot - Kedoshim
Parshat Acharei Mot - Kedoshim PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 04 May 2012

A Hairsbreadth Can Be The Whole Difference

May 4-5, 2012/ 13 Iyar 5772

By Rabbi Avi Weiss

In this week's portion, the Torah tells us that Aharon (Aaron) the High Priest, cast lots upon two goats, "one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel." (Leviticus 16:8)

Rashi explains the procedure as follows: "One goat he (Aharon) placed on his right hand, the other on his left. He then put both hands in the urn, took one lot in each hand and placed it upon the corresponding goat. One of the lots was inscribed 'for the Lord' and the other 'for Azazel.'" Ibn Ezra explains that Azazel was a height from which the goat was hurled.   

Sforno argues that the goat inscribed "for the Lord" was sacrificed as an offering to atone for sins committed in connection with the Sanctuary. The goat sent away was meant to expiate the sins of the community. (Sforno, Leviticus 16:5)

Other explanations come to mind. It can be suggested that the lots teach us that there are aspects of life that are based purely on mazal. This doesn't mean that we do not have the power to precipitate change. What it does teach however, is that in life we all face a certain fate over which we have no control. The Talmud says it this way "life, children and sustenance are not dependant upon merit but on mazal." (Moed Katan 28a) No wonder we read about the lots on Yom Kippur, the day in which we recognize that there are elements of life that are only in the hands of God.

The Talmud also notes that the goats were similar in appearance, height, size and value (Yoma 62 a, b). Yet, a slight shift of Aharon's hand brought about different destinies for the goats-one to the Lord, the other to Azazel.

It has been noted that life is a game of inches. This is even true in the world of sports. For example, a hard ground ball to the short stop could result in a double play. Had the ball gone an inch to the left or right, the winning run could have been driven in. So, too, in worldly affairs. It is often the case that an infinitesimal amount can be the difference between life and death, between belief and heresy, between doing the right and wrong thing.

This may be the deepest message of the lots. The slightest movement could make the difference between heaven and earth, between being sent to the Lord and being cast to Azazel.

 

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