Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim


April 28, 2018 – 13 Iyyar 5778

Dear Friends,

All those choices…! Last week I found myself trying to evaluate two completely different plans for healthy eating. I had read two books. Each of the books seemed equally convincing to me, as a layperson. Each seemed to have lots of scientific research to back its theory up. Although they agreed on certain elements of what they considered healthy eating, the two books came to radically different points of view on what to eat! I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and I contemplated my Kindle…. I was motivated to do the right thing. But, what should I do?

In life, we face choices – big and small, significant and insignificant. Our Torah portion describes the ancient atonement ceremony that the High Priest performed on Yom Kippur. As a central part of the ceremony, the High Priest took two goats. One was offered up to God. The other was dispatched to “azazel” [to a “demonic realm”].

What do these two goats represent? Why is one offered to God and the other banished to a netherworld?

It seems that the two goats represent our perpetual state of mind as we face our daily choices. We are always in a position to choose which path we will follow – the path that leads to service of God, or the path that leads us away from our highest ideals.

The High Priest’s atonement ceremony was not simply a Yom Kippur ritual. It is also a potent reminder of the choices that we all face on a day to day basis. Not a day goes by in which we don’t face choices. Many times, our choice is reminiscent of the Yom Kippur atonement ritual. Our choice is whether we will to offer up our gifts to God, or do the opposite.

May our choices lead us to lives of greater blessing, greater peace, and greater joy!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror