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The Kapparah of Yom Kippur

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Zuckier / August 27, 2020

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Yom Kippur is literally "the Day of Atonement." But how does that atonement come about: Is it dependent on the bringing of Korbanot? Does Yom Kippur still atone today? Need one observe the day of Yom Kippur in order to achieve atonement? What does this process of atonement tell us about the holiest day of the year?

This series examines a variety of sources in classic rabbinic literature, examining the issue from a variety of perspectives.

Shiur 1, will undertake a close analysis of the relevant Pesukim in Vayikra 16:29-34 that discuss the significance of the day of Yom Kippur for those achieving atonement. It will raise the question of who is responsible for carrying out the atonement and set the stage for analysis of the Gemara’s views on this issue. Shiur 2 will treat the question, discussed in Yoma 85b-86a, of whether Yom Kippur atones by itself or only when accompanied by repentance. This essential question, interpreted in a variety of ways by the Rishonim, has major ramifications for how to understand the Day of Yom Kippur overall. Shiur 3 will address the teaching, found at Yoma 86a, of the “four categories of atonement” – one of which is Yom Kippur – and consider how it impacts these discussions. It will also consider cases of those who reject Yom Kippur in various ways and whether that affects one’s capacity to achieve atonement on the day. Shiur 4 will discuss the relationship between Yom Kippur and the Sa’ir HaMishtaleach, the scapegoat that atoned for sin when it was brought in the Beis HaMikdash. What is the relationship between the atonement of Yom Kippur as a day and the atonement of the scapegoat or other Yom Kippur sacrifices, both in the time of the Temple and today? Shiur 5 will draw together the material we have studied throughout this series and draw some conclusions about the source of atonement on Yom Kippur. Does it stem primarily from people or from God? And does the answer to that question change over history?


Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Zuckier

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Zuckier teaches in the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program and the Drisha Summer Kollel, as well as other Drisha Programs. A postdoctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at McGill University, he received his PhD in Ancient Judaism at Yale University and was a member of Yeshiva University’s Kollel Elyon. Previously he served as Director of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Yale University. Shlomo is an alumnus of Yeshivat Har Etzion and RIETS, as well as of the Wexner and Tikvah Fellowships. He has lectured and taught widely across North America, as well as at Yale Divinity School, Yeshiva University, the Tikvah Fund, and Bnot Sinai. A Founder of The Lehrhaus, Shlomo serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition and has edited two books on contemporary Jewish thought.


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