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Leviticus Chapter 16
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The Yom Kippur Service
16:1 God spoke to Moses right after the death of Aaron's two sons, who brought an [unauthorized] offering before God and died.
16:2 God said to Moses:

Speak to your brother Aaron, and let him not enter the [inner] sanctuary that is beyond the partition concealing the Ark, so that he may not die, since I appear over the Ark cover in a cloud.

16:3 When Aaron enters [this inner] sanctuary, it must be with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
16:4 He must put on a sanctified white linen tunic, and have linen pants on his body. He must [also] gird himself with a linen sash, and bind his [head] with a linen turban. These are sacred vestments, and [therefore], before putting them on, he must immerse in a mikvah.
16:5 From the Israelite community, he shall [also] take two goats for sin offerings, and one ram for a burnt offering.
16:6 He shall [begin by] presenting his own sin offering bull and atoning for himself and his family
16:7 He shall then take the two goats, and stand them before God at the Communion Tent entrance.
16:8 Aaron shall place two lots on the two goats one lot [marked] 'for God,' and one [marked] 'for Azazel.'
16:9 Aaron shall present the goat that has the lot for God so that it will [later] be prepared as a sin offering.
16:10 The goat that has the lot for Azazel shall remain alive before God, so that [Aaron] will [later] be able to make atonement on it and send it to Azazel in the desert.
16:11 Aaron shall present his sin offering bull, and make atonement for himself and his fellow [priests]. He shall then slaughter his bull as a sin offering.
16:12 He shall take a fire pan full of burning coals from [the side of] the altar that is toward God, along with a double handful of finely pulverized perfume incense, and bring [them both] into the [inner sanctuary] beyond the cloth partition.
16:13 There, before God, he shall place the incense on the fire, so that the smoke from the incense covers the ark cover over the [tablets of] testimony. Then he will not die.
16:14 He shall take some of the bull's blood, and, with his forefinger, sprinkle it [once] above the east side of the ark cover. He shall [then] sprinkle with his forefinger seven times [directly] toward the ark cover.
16:15 He shall then slaughter the people's sin offering goat, and bring its blood into [the inner sanctuary] beyond the cloth partition. He shall do the same with this blood as he did with the bull's blood, sprinkling it both above the ark cover and directly toward the ark cover.
16:16 With this, he will make atonement for the Israelites' defilement, as well as for their rebellious acts and all their inadvertent misdeeds.

He shall then perform [exactly] the same [ritual] in the Communion Tent, which remains with the [Israelites] even when they are unclean.

16:17 No one else shall be in the Communion Tent from the time that [Aaron] enters the sanctuary to make atonement until he leaves. In this manner he shall make atonement for himself, for his family, and for the entire Israelite community.
16:18 He shall then go out to the altar that is before God, and make atonement on it. He shall [do this by] taking some of the bull's and goat's blood, and placing [the mixture] on the altar's horns all around.
16:19 He shall sprinkle the blood on it seven times with his forefinger. Through this, he shall purify and sanctify it from any defilement on the part of the Israelites.
16:20 When he thus finishes making atonement in the [inner] sanctuary, in the Communion Tent, and on the altar, he shall present the live goat.
16:21 Aaron shall press both his hands on the live goat's head, and he shall confess on it all the Israelites' sins, rebellious acts and inadvertent misdeeds. When he has thus placed them on the goat's head, he shall send it to the desert with a specially prepared man.
16:22 The goat will thus carry all the sins away to a desolate area when it is sent to the desert.
16:23 Aaron shall then go into the Communion Tent, and take off the white linen vestments that he wore when he entered the [inner] sanctuary. He shall leave [these vestments] there.
16:24 He shall immerse his body in a mikvah in the sanctified area, and put on his [regular] vestments.

He shall then go out and complete his own burnt offering and the people's burnt offering, thus atoning for himself and the people.

16:25 He shall [also] burn the choice parts of the sin offering on the altar.
16:26 The one who sends the goat to Azazel shall immerse his clothing and body in a mikvah; only then can he enter the camp.
16:27 The bull and goat presented as sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the [inner] sanctuary to make atonement, shall be brought outside the camp. There, their skin, flesh and entrails shall be burned in fire.
16:28 The one who burns them shall immerse his clothing and body in a mikvah, and he may then come back into the camp.
16:29 [All] this shall be an eternal law for you. [Each year] on the 10th day of the 7th month you must fast and not do any work. This is true of both the native born and the proselyte who joins you.
16:30 This is because on this day you shall have all your sins atoned, so that you will be cleansed. Before God you will be cleansed of all your sins.
16:31 It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you, and [a day upon which] you must fast. This is a law for all time.
16:32 The priest who is anointed and installed to be [High] Priest in his ancestor's place shall make [this] atonement, wearing the sacred vestments of white linen.
16:33 He shall be the one to make atonement in the holy [inner] sanctuary, in the Communion Tent, and on the altar. The atonement that he makes shall be for the priests and for the people of the community.
16:34 [All this] shall be for you as a law for all time, so that the Israelites [will be able to] gain atonement for their sins once each year.

[Aaron later] did exactly as God had commanded Moses.


  (cf. Saadia).

death of Aaron's two sons
   Leviticus 10:2. The narrative is interrupted with the other laws of defilement, since it is important that the death of Aaron's sons serve as an object lesson for all Israel. After warning the other Israelites not to enter the sanctuary improperly, Aaron is also warned (cf. Ibn Ezra).

inner sanctuary
  The Holy of Holies (see Exodus 26:33).

since I appear...
  (Rashi; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra). Or, 'Since I must [only] be seen in the smoke [of the incense] over the Ark cover ...' (Yoma 53a; Rashi; Rashbam).

He must put on...
  On Yom Kippur, the High Priest wore four white linen vestments (Yad, Kley HaMikdash 8:3). The rest of the year, he would wear eight vestments (see Exodus 28:42).

He shall begin by
  (Yoma 35b; Yad, Avodath Yom HaKippurim 4:1). This was done after the daily offering (Numbers 28:2-7) and the additional Yom Kippur offering (Numbers 29:7-10). (Ibid.).

  Confessing their sins (Ibid.; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

  These were two pieces of boxwood (Arukh; Rambam on Yoma 3:10, Negaim 2:1), ashkora in Hebrew, upon which the above words were written (Yoma 37a). These would be placed in a kalpi or small box (Ibid.; ascoran or ecrin in French, Rashi). He would then mix up the two lots (Arukh, s.v. Taraf) and lift them out of the box quickly without thinking about which one he taking in which hand (Yoma 39a). The box would be large enough to hold the High Priests two hands (Ibid.). Thus when he lifted them out, one would be in his right hand and the other in his left hand. Since one goat would be to his right and the other to his left, the hand in which each lot was lifted would determine which goat would be designated for which part of the service (Ibid.).

  This is a proper noun (cf. Targum), and some say that it was the name of a known mountain (Saadia; Emunoth VeDeyoth 3:10; Radak, Sherashim), possibly in the Sinai area (cf. Ibn Ezra). Others say that it denotes a hard rocky cliff, indicating that this goat was pushed off a cliff to its death (Yoma 63a; Targum Yonathan on 16:10; Sifra; Rashi; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Others say that azazel means 'to be sent away' (Septuagint), or 'to carry away sins' (Symachus; Vulgate).

There is another opinion that Azazel denotes the fact that this goat was designated for the forces of evil (Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 46; Ramban; Bachya; Chizzkuni; Zohar 3:63a). By making evil part of the service, the evil of the people's sins is re-elevated to God.

Others say that it is meant to atone for sexual crimes (Rashi, Yoma 67b, s.v. Uza), the sin of the fallen angels, Uza and Uzael (Yoma 67b; cf. Targum Yonathan on Genesis 6:4; Enoch 10:4,5). Some say that Azazel represents the forces of nature (Hirsch).

fellow priests
  (Yoma 41b; Sifra; Rashi). See Leviticus 16:33. Literally, 'for the household,' here designating the entire priestly family.

fire pan
  See Exodus 27:3.

side of
  The west side (Sifra; Rashi).

  The sacrificial altar (Yoma 45b; Rashi).

double handful
  With both hands together. See Exodus 9:8.


east side
  Since the Holy of Holies was to the west of the Tabernacle, the priest would be facing the east side of the ark.

ark cover
  The 'atonement device' (kapporeth); see Exodus 25:17. (Abarbanel; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

He shall then...
  Thus, he would sprinkle once upward and seven times downward (Sifra; Rashi). He would thus count 'one, one and one, one and two ...' until 'one and seven' (Yoma 53b). He would not actually sprinkle the blood upward or downward, but lift his hand and sprinkle with the downward motion (Arukh, s.v. Matzlif). Others say that there was no sharp division between the 'upper blood' and the 'lower,' but the priest would begin sprinkling upward, and gradually sprinkle lower (Rashi, Yoma 55a). See Yoma 53b; Yad, Avodath Yom HaKippurim 3:5).

sin offering goat
  The one chosen by lot for God.

  That is, entering the sanctuary or eating sacrifice while unclean (Rashi; see Leviticus 15:31).

He shall then perform...
  (Yoma 56a). Thus he must sprinkle both the blood of the bull and that of the goat (separately) toward the cloth partition, once upward and seven times downward (Yoma 53b; Yad, Avodath Yom HaKippurim 3:5).

which remains...
  Indicating that there is atonement even when the Israelites are defiled (Midrash HaGadol). This may also indicate that there would be atonement even in the Second Temple, where there was no ark or ark cover.

altar that is before God
  The incense altar (Yoma 58b; Rashi).

  (Yoma 53b; Yad, Avodath Yom HaKippurim 3:5).

all around
  North-east, north-west, south-west and then south-east (Sifra).

on it
  On the center of the altar (Sifra; Yoma 58b).

When he...
  (cf. Saadia).

sins, rebellious acts...
  (Yoma 36b).

When he has...
  (cf. Saadia).

specially prepared man
  (Yoma 66a; Rashi). Iti in Hebrew.

burnt offering
  The rams mentioned in Leviticus 16:3,5.

the 10th day of the 7th month
  That is Yom Kippur, the tenth of Tishrei, counting from Nissan (Targum Yonathan; see Exodus 12:2). See Leviticus 23:27.

  (Saadia; Targum Yonathan; cf. Yoma 77a). Literally, 'afflict yourselves,' or 'afflict your souls.' 'Affliction' also includes refraining from washing, anointing, wearing shoes and sex (Yad, Shevithath Assur 1:5), but many say that these are forbidden only by rabbinic legislation (Tosafoth, Yoma 7b).

  Like the Sabbath, see Exodus 20:9.

  (see HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

a law for all time
  Even when there is no temple (Sforno).

ancestor's place
  That is, whoever is High Priest just as was Aaron, the father of all priests (cf. Sifra).

Aaron later
  (Rashi; Rashbam).

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