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Friday, May 5, 2017
Parshas Acharei Mos 5777
פּרשׁת אחרי מוֹת
“Though the High Holidays are half a year away, the Torah
portion we read this week reinforces our awareness of their importance by
instructing us now about Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.” (HaRav
Dovid Nussbaum shlita; Sparks of Torah; p. 79).
‘For in a cloud I appear upon the Kapores.’
‘And it’s Midrash: He shall not come except if with the
Cloud of Incense, on Yom HaKippurim.’ (Rashi HaKadosh from
Gemara Yoma 53a).
The Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l)
notes that the first Service the Kohen Gadol performs when he goes into the
Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur is…… the Incense Service. And Chazal
have taught us that the Incense Service atones for the sin of Lashon Hara.
This is a lesson to us, Rav Yisroel Meir zt”l explains, just how
severe Lashon Hara is. (From Shemiras HaLashon).
‘And Aharon shall put upon the two he-goats lots; one lot “for
Hashem”, and one lot “for Azazel”.’
HaRav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch zt”l
explains: We should imagine the service -- two goats, nearly identical
(as Mishnah Yoma teaches) brought before the Beis HaMikdash. The
Kohen Gadol draws the lots, one ‘for Hashem’ and one ‘for Azazel’.
Now the goats part ways. The goat that was ‘for Hashem’ is
slaughtered as an offering to Hashem. The second goat -- the one for
Azazel, ‘stands alive’ as the verse says.
If this goat could think, it would likely be very happy that it
was to remain alive! If it could compare itself to the other goat, it
would probably become very proud of itself. It would say “Look at the
difference between us! Certainly, he was brought on the holy Altar, but he lost
his life in the process, while I, on the other hand, am alive and well!”
And after he was led to the mountainside of Yerushalayim, his
pride would only expand within him. What a wonderful thing, to step into
the free country. When he is taken up to the cliff, he feels even more
fortunate, as he looks over the grand sight below him.
Of course, if this goat knew what was going on, it would not be
having these thoughts at all! One quick push off the cliff, and him and his
pride are left splattered on the rocks below.
This is the story of a Jew’s life: Two paths lie before
every Jew; the path of serving Hashem, and the path of the people who lead a
secular life, merely enjoying the pleasures of life. The second group of
people are far from Torah and Mitzvos.
The first path sometimes requires sacrifice, such as not doing
certain desires of ours, and having certain so-called ‘restrictions’.
However, all this is worth it, as through this, one merits gaining
entrance into Hashem’s Holy Sanctuary. These great people acquire good
things in both worlds.
The people, who just go after their desires, may appear to be
right at times, Chas V’Shalom, as they might have sweet-looking lives, because
they are just doing what they want. But in the end, we see which way the lives of
the members of the two camps go, i.e. the good people and bad people.
When the bubble of the bad people bursts, and they realize that
the pleasures of life are but nothing, them and their dreams are left
The two goats on Yom Kippur, should remind us all of the ongoing
battle between the Yetzer Tov, who tries to convince us to take the good path,
that of the first goat, and the Yetzer Hara, who tries to convince us to go in
the bad path, that of the second goat -– the one ‘for Azazel’. And we must
always listen to our Yetzer Tov, and take the good path, serving Hashem to the
best of our abilities. (From BiMaagalei HaShanah -- quoted in TheTorah of Brisk and other Gedolim: Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur).
‘And he shall send it, in
the hand of a timely man, to the wilderness.’
Rebbe Lazer Brody shlita notes that the
designated man to go with the goat for Azazel really isn’t talked about much --
even though his job is so important! He is almost like the “unsung hero”,
so to speak.
However, this goes to teach us a lesson, he explains: Every
single Jew (and person in general) is important. No matter who you are --
and no matter how little you are talked about.
The Jewish People is compared to a body -- and without even one of
all the cells, organs, limbs, etc. (Chas V’Shalom) your body would not work as
well. So too, with every Jew. (Chassidic Pearls -- quoted on