The Sedra of Acharei Mos talks about the two goats that played a crucial role in the Yom Kippur service. Both are presented before the tent containing the Holy Ark as ” Chatosim ” ( sin offerings ) to HaShem. Aaron or his successors then draw lots to select one of the identical goats. One will be offered as a sacrifice , whereas the other will be sent into the desert to “Azazel ” . This is the classic “Scapegoat”. Rashi is brief in his explanation as to the function of this sacrifice and explains Azazel as being ” a hard mountain and a high peak “.
The Kli Yakar offers an explanation which is an enigma inside a mystery wrapped up in a riddle ……
“These two goats parallel exactly the two goats which Yaakov took prior to taking Easu’s blessing from his father. One was made into the stew….this goat was the possession of the Satan who was being offered a bribe so that the other goat which was to offered to G-d would be accepted. Yitzchok proclaimed that his son had done a major thing which would serve as a blue print for millennia; the two goats of Yom Kippur .One being offered to Satan would guarantee the success of the other being offered to G-d ”
If this Kli Yakar has left you totally baffled then that’s fine. Only Kabbalists would understand it but soon you will too.
A word about our friend the Satan. He is an angel and as such is made by G-d and serves a specific purpose. He is the creation which offers freedom of choice! The minimum numerical component for choice is two. We hear a voice inside our heads telling us to do things which we know is wrong . That’s when we call the Satan the Yetzer HaRa ( our evil inclination ). We also hear a voice which challenges that suggestion our Yetzer HaTov ( good inclination ) and having two suggestions we have a choice. If we listen to the negative one then he who made it wears his next hat as the Satan ( accuser ) and shoots straight to heaven to inform on us.
The Ramban quotes the Medrash which reports that on Yom Kippur after the sending of the Goat to Azazel …..
“The Satan says to G-d your people Israel are like the angels. There they stand on Yom Kippur not eating or drinking just like angels. When HaShem hears this from the angel whose entire job and entire year is devoted to pointing out our flaws he accepts our offerings and forgives us our sins ”
The Ramban carries on to point out that we ourselves are not offering a sacrifice to Satan…that would be Idolatry. We are merely obeying G-d’s command to offer a gift to whosoever he chooses.
At this point the whole concept should be utterly baffling and about as clear as mud but don’t give up we’re nearly there!
Reb Zalman Sorotzkin sumarises the Ramban and adds one crucial word G-d is telling us to offer the Satan a “Doron” a present or gift ….but the Hebrew word Doron is heavy with significance and association. It is also the idea which our puzzling Kli Yakar suggested.
Rabbi Dessler in page 118 of the second volume of his sefer Miktav MiEliyohu Quotes the Gemara Peshachim page 50b.
” A person must always engage in Jewish observance, Torah and Mitzvos even though it is not done with absolute sincerity because from insincerity eventually you will come to sincerity ”
Every discipline is initially approached with lack of ability and stumbling. Imagine a child learning to play the violin, it’s awful ! ( those wishing a demonstration can be tortured by appointment by my ten year old son Moshe ) But every violinist started by making an atrocious racket . They get better as they practice . The same is true about religious practice . You start off insincere, and then graduate to sincerity. It is a perfectly legitimate Jewish approach to allow the Satan or Yetzer HaRa to encroach on your attempts at sincerity. A few examples might be someone who goes to Yeshiva because it is a fashion , so that he can tell people he’s done it. Or someone studies to be a Rabbi because he quite likes the idea of people standing up for him when he comes into a room. We are allowed to be attracted by these frankly inappropriate motives as a vehicle to allow us to reach sincere motives . We are allowed to offer a ” bribe” a “Doron” to the Satan as a rung on the ladder to push ourselves up.
I remember approaching Reb Matisyohu Salomon the Mashgiach of Gateshead Yeshiva early in my yeshiva career . I had been studying Mussar, the Ethical and Philosophical works which emphasise that a person should change themselves. People can eradicate negative traits and become different people. My question was, ” I’m not sure if I want to change or even that I should. I know who I am and what my personality is. I know it’s strengths and weaknesses. I know I can rely on it and I am absolutely familiar with it. If I choose to change and become a “different” person How do I know what he’ll be like ?”
Rabbi Salomon told me that this sounded like an argument created , patented and copyrighted by the Yetzer HaRa.
Imagine a Rocket about to propel astronauts into orbit. The Rocket will have various stages. At the crucial moment the bottom stage will be used up and will be required to be jettisoned as the next stage takes over and then the next until the Astronauts achieve orbit. Of course if a bottom section or any of the others fails to be jettisoned at that appropriate time then they will pull the entire rocket and capsule down . Rabbi Salomon was telling me that it was time to jettison the vehicle I had been using till then and reach higher.
When the Satan sees us sending him a “Bribe” on Yom Kippur we are only demonstrating that we do that all the time. We allow his suggestions to motivate us in the initial stages, pride, honour etc. so that we can eventually achieve a state when we no longer need them . This is symbolised by sending the Satan his “Bribe” and even he has to admit that it is indeed that which we use all the time to leave his inducements behind.

Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein has thrilled audiences from Jerusalem to Manchester and Johannesburg to Los Angeles. There are two reasons for his success. One is a mastery of sources in Jewish philosophy and his understanding of contemporary events. The other is his unique delivery…If you have the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom…do not miss it!

Rabbi Professor Dovid Gottlieb

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