Israel Forever

For the week ending 26 April 2003 / 24 Nisan 5763

The Perpetual Scapegoat

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The sair lazazail the scapegoat plays a special role in the Yom Kippur service of Beit Hamikdash days which is the main subject of the Torah portion which Jews will read on this, the first Shabbat following the Pesach holiday. This goat symbolically carried the sins of the entire community out into some remote location where its death climaxed the atonement process of that holy day.

It is striking that this is the first Torah reading following Pesach, a holiday historically associated with blood libels against Jews who were turned into scapegoats for whatever bothered the gentile community. And didnt the Nazi propaganda machine blame the Jews for all of Germanys economic woes?

To our deep regret this pastime of making the Jew a scapegoat is not a thing of the past. How many voices have we heard, even in the U.S., that it was Israel and the Jews in high places who instigated the war against Iraq. And how else can we understand the twisted logic of those European countries who blame the Middle East unrest on Israeli intransigence except to conclude that we are once against playing the scapegoat role.

The original scapegoat represented atonement for sin. Perhaps if we take to heart the need to improve our spiritual situation we will merit Divine protection from being stigmatized as the perpetual scapegoat and can enjoy peace and security forever.

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