Yom Kippur Part 9

Demise of Goat

The Scapegoat Dies (continued)

After he has accomplished his task, the kohen who led the scapegoat walks back to the last booth, and waits there until dark before he returns to Jerusalem - for it has only been permitted for him to travel this distance in order to fulfill the duty of the scapegoat. However once that has been done, he must wait until the conclusion of the Day of Atonement before he returns.

Demise of Goat

The Scouts' Signals

Back inside the Holy Temple, after having delivered the scapegoat into the hands of his colleague, the Kohen Gadol must wait to receive word that the scapegoat has reached the desert, for he is not permitted to begin the next stage of the day's service until then. In addition to the miracle of the crimson wool on the Sanctuary turning white, this information reached the Temple another way as well: scouts were positioned at high points all along the route to the cliff. As the goat was led from one station to the next, these scouts would signal each other by waving cloths. When the scapegoat had been sent off, the news was relayed back to the Temple through the scouts' signals.

Reading from the Torah

Once this news has been received, the Kohen Gadol descends to the Women's Court and reads aloud from the book of Leviticus (chapter 16, the reading for Yom Kippur) before the congregation. This is done with great ceremony. In the words of the Mishna (Yoma 7, 1): "The synagogue assistant takes the Torah scroll from the synagogue, and gives it to the synagogue head. He, in turn, hands the Torah to the assistant priest. The latter delivers it into the hands of the Kohen Gadol." All of this was done out of honor for the Kohen Gadol, who is served by such a large staff.

Burning the Bull & Goat

The Burning of the Bull and Goat

"The bull and goat presented as sin-offerings, the blood of which was brought into the Sanctuary to make atonement, shall be taken outside the camp." (Leviticus 16:27)

The two offerings are taken out the northern gate of Jerusalem to the site known as "the Place of the Ashes."

Disposing of the Vestments

Disposing of the White Vestments

At the conclusion of the service, the Kohen Gadol gives the two sets of white vestments he has worn for the morning and afternoon services, over to his assistants, who dispose of them in the Chamber of Pinchas, a storeroom for priestly garments.


A Celebration of Thanks

At the conclusion of this awesome day, after all the service was completed and the day had waned, the Kohen Gadol was accompanied by the entire multitude of worshipers back to his own home. "When the Kohen Gadol exited from the holy place unharmed, he made a celebration for his loved ones" (ibid., 4) at the conclusion of Yom Kippur - to give thanks to G-d that he successfully guided the service, and was neither rendered unfit nor adversely affected.

As we read in the High Holiday Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement,

"How radiant was the appearance of the Kohen Gadol,
when he exited in peace from the holy place!
Like flashes of light that emanate
from the splendor of the angels -
such was the appearance of the Kohen Gadol."


Ne'ilah: The Closing of the Gates

Just before the setting of the sun, the Levite gatekeepers push shut the gates of the Sanctuary and the Courtyard.


In Conclusion

"Whoever says, 'I will sin, and then I will repent afterwards' is denied the opportunity to repent.
And one who says, 'I will sin, and Yom Kippur will grant me atonement' - for such an individual, Yom Kippur does not atone.

The Day of Atonement only functions to grant atonement for sins committed between man and G-d. But for sins committed between man and his fellow, even Yom Kippur cannot atone... until the wronged man has been asked forgiveness and appeased.

Rabbi Akiva taught: 'Happy is your lot, Israel! For before whom do you purify yourselves, and who purifies you? Your Father in heaven, as the verse states (Ez. 36:25) I will sprinkle on you pure waters, and you shall be cleansed'." (Yoma 8, 9).