By Theophilus Lucky, First Fruits of Zion—
Yom Kippur is neither a festive nor happy day. It does not commemorate the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Rather, like Rosh HaShanah, it is a day of remembrance before HaShem. Rosh HaShanah paves the way to Yom Kippur.
It is a day of remembrance and the voice of the shofar blast warns the children of Israel, saying, “Repent, purify and sanctify yourselves, for the day of reckoning is coming, the day of repentance is here; the day in which the high priest makes atonement for the children of Israel to purify them from all their sins once a year so that they may be spotless before HaShem.”
Indeed every man is a sinner; there is no one who is righteous, does what is good, and does not sin. He is ritually unclean and impure. HaShem is holy, and the ritually unclean cannot access his presence. Therefore, in his mercy on all his creation, HaShem made a way for his children to come before him, and he taught them this path of repentance.
In the beginning HaShem commanded them to offer the blood of bulls and sheep in order to atone for the sins of the Israelites. Blood atones and covers over the crimes of mankind, and HaShem erases them from his book, for he is a gracious and compassionate God. The blood of animals and birds is innocent blood, for they did not sin against HaShem, and it atones for the sins of people who have sinned, committed crimes, and transgressed before our Heavenly Father. This is what HaShem commanded.
For this reason Aaron came into the holy place with a bull for the sin offering and a ram for the burnt offering to atone for himself and his household, and two goats and a ram to atone for all Israel. He would cast lots for the two goats, one for HaShem and one for Azazel. The priest would slaughter the one whose lot fell to HaShem, and he would place his hands on the second goat—the one for Azazel—and he would confess all the sins of Israel, all their iniquities and crimes, and he would place them upon the head of the goat and send it away with an appointed man into the wilderness to a remote land to which the goat would carry away the iniquities of the children of Israel. Continue Reading….