Yoma 85b – How does the Scapegoat Work

In this shiur we learned about the surprising approach of Rebbe Yehuda ha-Nasi who advocates for the notion that Yom Kippur by itself has the ability to affect atonement without teshuva.  There is something about this approach that feels magical and uncomfortably close to the Christian notion of grace.

My sense is that many of us have imbibed the notion that teshuva and kapara are things that you have to work hard to attain.  Simply having experienced the day of Yom Kippur, without some introspection, seems to be a cop-out.

The Rambam preserves this conflict between the Mishne Torah (Hil. Teshuva 1:2 and The Guide of the Perplexed (III:46)  The Meiri in his monumental hibur ha-teshuva (Ma’amar 2:13) deals with this problem.  In the Mishne Torah Rambam says that the seir la’azazel is necessary and sufficient to attain kapara for certain sins.  In the Guide he maintains that the scapegoat is simply a means to the end of actually doing teshuva.  Here, teshuva is necessary and sufficient to reach kapara.

Here, you can read a nice piece of Torah from the Rebbe z”tzal

You can see the gemara as well as the competing Rambam texts at this link.

In addition you can hear the audio at this link:

Yoma 85b – The Role of the Scapegoat & YK in granting kapara


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