For the week ending 11 January 2014 / 10 Shevat 5774

Yoma 65 - 71

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The scapegoat that died too soon
  • Problem of consecrating an animal or anything else today
  • The kohen gadol’s confession of the nation’s sins
  • The scapegoat and the “minuteman” taking him
  • Rabbi Eliezer’s mysterious evasion of answering questions
  • The bridge for the scapegoat and the impatient “Babylonians”
  • The red ribbon turning white
  • Where the scapegoat died and what was the status of its remains
  • When the garments of the burners became ritually impure
  • How they knew when the scapegoat reached the wilderness
  • The kohen gadol’s reading of the Torah
  • Personal use of the priestly garments
  • Encounter of Shimon Hatzaddik and Alexander of Macedon
  • The battle against the evil inclination towards idolatry and immorality
  • Why they were called“Members of the Great Assembly”
  • The remaining Yom Kippur service of the kohen gadol
  • How the kohen gadol and Torah Sages were greeted
  • The garments of the kohen gadol and ordinary kohanim

How a Turnaround is Achieved

  • Yoma 71a

Is it possible for a person whose early years were plagued with poverty to be blessed with prosperity in his later years?

Rabbi Elazar saw the answer to this question in a passage from Mishlei (3:2). After counseling the reader to not neglect Torah and mitzvot, King Shlomo declares that these are the merits that will entitle him to “a length of days and years of life and peace”.

“Are there, then, a man’s years which are not years of life” asks Rabbi Elazar?

His explanation is that this is a reference to those years when a person’s life turns around from bad to good. The example cited by Rashi in his commentary is that of someone poor in his youth becoming prosperous in his later years, a turnaround which gives him the feeling of suddenly coming alive.

This is why we offer the traditional blessing of“long life and long days”. The first half refers to the quantity of life and the second half to its quality.

What the Sages Say

“If not for the awesomeness of G-d how could this one nation of Israel have survived among the seventy nations who tried to destroy it!”

  • Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi - Yoma 69b

“At first they tied a red ribbon at the inside of the entrance to the ulam of the Beit Hamikdash and when it turned white they knew that the scapegoat had reached the wilderness, and that its mission had been accomplished in accordance with what is written (Yeshayahu 1:18): ‘Though your sins be like red they will be as white as snow.’ ”

  • Rabbi Elazar Hakapar - Yoma 67a

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