Parashat Acharei Mot – Kedoshim: A Summary
Acharei Mot includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol cast lots to designate two goats, one to be sacrificed, the other to be driven to a place called Azazel after the Cohen Gadol – the High Priest – confesses the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a very popular epithet in Israel to instruct another person in the heat of an argument to “go to Azazel.” (I don’t believe the intent, however, is to look for the goat…)
The goat sent to Azazel symbolically carried away the sins of the Jewish people. This, I surmise, is the source of the concept of using a scapegoat. One thing you can truly give credit to the Jewish people, when we use a scapegoat, at least we use a real goat!
The Torah then proceeds to set forth the sexual laws — who you are not allowed to marry or have relations with. If one appreciates that the goal of life is to be holy, to perfect oneself and to be as much as possible like God, then he/she can appreciate that it is impossible to orgy at night and be spiritual by day
The Torah portion of Kedoshim invokes the Jewish people to be holy! And then it proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals — a direction and a meaning. By analysing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny.