It must have been startling to watch. And cathartic.
That little goat up there. I’d put my sins on him. Oh yeah, I totally would. We all would. And then they would send him away.
Trot off, little sins! Go out into the wilderness and never come back!
And then there’s the other goat. That one we’d kill. Burn him to bits. I know I’d be thinking of the first goat – the one with my sins wandering around out there – as I watched the second goat die. As the smoke billowed up from the altar, we would all really know he (and they – the sins) were dead and gone. They were never coming back.
That might feel more satisfying than listing them inside my head. Maybe if I had a goat to make it more concrete it would make it all make sense. Maybe I’d feel better at the end of the long long day of Yom HaKippurim, The Day of Covering Over, The Day of Clean Slates. At the end of the long, painful day of standing and droning and remembering and napping and trying to recall where I’ve gone astray.
At the end of the delirium, I might feel better if I had put my sins onto a goat rather than out into the ether. And I might feel better in the end if that goat got sent off, or slaughtered and burned to bits before my eyes.email print