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2018 The Scapegoat 800


Ever wonder where the term "scapegoat" came from? Right from Vayikra 16 and the rituals of Yom Kippur!

In the Temple on this holiest of days, one of the many rituals involved taking two goats and drawing lots to determine their fate: one was designated for God and one for Azazel. The one for God was slaughtered in the Temple, while the one for Azazel became the "scapegoat," sent to the desert as an atonement for the nation's sins.

Traditionally, this Torah portion is read on the morning of Yom Kippur. But is this text truly relevant to our contemporary concepts of atonement and repentance?

Two Reform thinkers address this issue.

Rabbi Gunther Plaut explains the Reform rationale for removing this passage from the Yom Kippur Torah reading, while Dr. Mark Weisstuch argues the passage is rich in meaning and significance.

In our course Vayikra (Leviticus): A Call to Holiness, we explore these ideas and questions. 

Painting: The Scapegoat, 1854, by William Holman Hunt

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