Thursday, October 6, 2022

D'var Yom Kippur 5783: Who is Azazel?

 In today’s parsha we read:

וְנָתַן אַהֲרֹן עַל־שְׁנֵי הַשְּׂעִירִם גֹּרָלוֹת גּוֹרָל אֶחָד לַה' וְגוֹרָ֥ל אֶחָד לַעֲזָאזֵל

And Aaron shall place lots upon the two goats, one marked for HaSem and the other marked for Azazel. (Lev 16:8)

For Azazel? Who, or what, is Azazel? For many years, I’ve come to Yom Kippur services and wondered this. Sometimes I’ve tried to read into the text and commentary provided in the Machzor and Chumash to see if an answer lies there, but, even if they fit at the time, the ideas I’ve come across simply haven’t stuck with me. I decided that, this year, I would research more deeply so I could share with you all The Answer.

After hours of pouring over everything I could find from Mishnah to modern sources, I am pleased to share with you that… it’s complicated.