Yom Kippur Part 4

Right Hand

The Fateful Lottery

Great anticipation and feelings of repentance mark the entire Yom Kippur service. One of the most dramatic moments is the lottery selecting the scapegoat which acts as an atonement for Israel's sins. This Kohen Gadol is seen above, flanked by the Deputy Kohen Gadol on his right, and the head of the family on duty, on his left.

Placing Lots

Placing the Lots

The Kohen Gadol then places these lots upon the heads of the goats, between their horns: that which he raised up in his right hand is placed upon the animal to his right, and of the left, to his left. When placing the lot of "For HaShem" upon the sacrifice, he recites aloud the words "For HaShem, a sin offering," once again pronouncing the holy Ineffable Name of G-d. All the kohanim and Israelites present who hear this name repeat the verse "Blessed is the name... ," as above.

Tying Scarlet Tongue

A "Tongue of Crimson Wool"

After placing the lots upon the goats, the Kohen Gadol ties a length of crimson-dyed wool between the horns of the scapegoat, and stands the goat facing the Temple's eastern gate, through which it will be led off. He also ties a similar length of wool around the neck of the goat which will be sacrificed. This elongated skein of wool is called a "tongue" in the language of the Mishna, on account of its shape. They were tied around the goats in order to prevent them from being mixed up with other animals, and each was tied in a distinctive manner so that they should not be confused with each other.

2 Goats

The Miracle of the Crimson Wool

These lengths of wool were specifically dyed crimson on account of the verse which reads, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall whiten as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). It is related that a great miracle occurred concerning this crimson-colored wool: For in addition to the piece which was tied to the scapegoat, a similar length was tied to the entrance of the Sanctuary where all could behold it, high up like a banner. The sage Rabbi Yishmael taught (Yoma 6, 8) that when the scapegoat reached its destination in the desert, this wool miraculously turned white before the eyes of all Israel, in keeping with the words of the prophet - and thus providing a Heavenly sign that the sins of the people had been atoned for

The two goats thus prepared, the High Priest will now leave them be and proceed with other aspects of this singular day's ceremonies. He will return to the offering and the Azazel only later, after the services of the bullock and the incense are completed. All the various components and aspects of the Yom Kippur service must be done according to a specific order.

Hands on Goat

The Second Oral Confession

Now the Kohen Gadol once again draws near to his own offering, the bullock. At this time he will again confess over the animal; the first time he did this, his confession was on behalf of himself and his family. This time he confesses on behalf of all his fellow kohanim. Once again he places his hands on the animal's head, between its horns, and pronouncing the Ineffable Name he recites his plea:

"I beseech You, HaShem;
I have sinned, rebelled, and transgressed against You,
I and my household,
And the sons of Aharon, Your holy people;
I beseech You, HaShem,
Grant atonement for the sins,
and for the iniquities and transgressions
which I have committed against You,
I and my household,
And the sons of Aharon Your holy people.
As it is written in the Torah
of Your servant, Moshe:
'For on this day
atonement shall be made for you,
to purify you from all your sins
- before HaShem you shall be purified.'"

Confession Goat

"Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever."

As above, the congregation responds with the words "Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever."

The Talmud explains that first the Kohen Gadol atones for his own sins and those of his family, and only afterwards does he make atonement for his colleagues... for it is better for an innocent man to make rectification for those who are liable.

Slaughtering the Bullock

The Bullock is Slaughtered

At the conclusion of his second confession, the Kohen Gadol slaughters the bullock. He receives the offering's blood in the mizrak vessel, and then gives this vessel to another kohen. The former immediately goes to prepare for the incense service, and the latter must stand outside the entrance to the Sanctuary and hold this vessel, continuously moving it with a stirring motion. This in done in order to prevent its contents from beginning to coagulate - since this would invalidate it to be dashed upon the altar.

The second kohen, thus occupied with the mizrak, waits in this spot for the return of the Kohen Gadolt, who will bring the mizrak into the Sanctuary. In the meantime, the Kohen Gadol ascends to the top of the altar in the court, carrying a golden shovel equipped with a specially long handle - designed to aid him in performing the particularly difficult movements he will require to conduct the incense service alone on this holy day.