Service of The Kohen Gadol: Scapegoat
I could use a scapegoat right about now. I am a big believer in the three essentials of life: 1) Food, 2) Clothing, and 3) someone to blame. If they need a volunteer to throw the goat off the cliff, I’ll be first in line. I don’t want to even imagine my face as I would toss that goat over to it’s death. Are you kidding? A chance to pile all my mistakes and sins together and toss them overboard! My heart beats just to think of it.
I need my scapegoat NOW!!! All these confessions have me confronting my humanity and, quite frankly, it’s intense. Do you think we can add a scapegoat to each day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? I am a human being. Imperfect. I make mistakes. Stupid mistakes. I would love to stand before God on Yom Kippur in pristine innocence but I know that, as a human being, I will make even more mistakes before Yom Kippur. How can I dream of Yom Kippur purity even as I confront my humanity?
The scapegoat stands just next to the goat that will be a holy offering to God. In fact, we use a lottery to determine which will go to God, and which to Azazel! It is as if the two are just a hair apart. The holiest stands just next to the one the carries all our sins. We cannot have one without the other. We cannot strive for greatness without making mistakes. It is only the person who is willing to move forward even as confronting his humanity who can stand before God on Yom Kippur and be purified.
The scapegoat is sent far away in the hands of a man expected to die. We do not witness the destruction of the goat. We do not participate in thrusting our imperfections away; they are far too important to our achieving the greatest heights.