This week, we read the double portion of
Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. It describes a somewhat peculiar ritual with regards to the biblical observance of the Day of Atonement and two goats. Lots were cast, one goat would be sacrificed, while the other would be designated as the carrier of all of the Israelites' sins, and be sent to wander in the wilderness.
It was never quite clear to me as to which goat "won." The goat which was offered to God as a sacrifice was quickly slaughtered. The other was kept alive, but became the scapegoat for all of Israel, and was sentenced to wander for eternity in the wilderness. Nevertheless, it always struck me that the difference between being offered as tribute, and exiled in disgrace, was dependent on the luck of the draw, and the flick of the high priest's wrist.
I have always found it humbling to consider how much of our fate is out of our hands. While in some situations we may be able to stack the deck in our favor and make our own luck, it's a bit scary to think about how many of the blessings in our lives, and the challenges that we have faced, could have gone the other way. Whether we consider it to be luck or fate, much of what happens in our lives, is beyond our control. And I pray that this Shabbat and beyond, we can enjoy and appreciate the many blessings in our lives, and continue to support each other through whatever challenges we may face.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch