This week’s Torah portion tells of the biblical High Priest and the ritual he performed on Yom Kippur. It included two goats, one sacrificed on behalf of the community and the other, the scapegoat, that was set loose in the desert to carry away the people’s sins.
It is appealing in its simplicity. Put your hands on a goat’s head and send it away, carrying the aftereffects of every mistake or wrong step everyone has taken over the past year. So easy, so painless.
But life isn’t simple. Dealing with our sadnesses, our regrets, and our failings isn’t easy. And living in a hard and confusing world isn’t easy either.
We are in a liminal state right now, somewhere between the pandemic reality and normal life. Many of us are leaving masks at home, and yet some of us aren’t going to public events. Add in the strangeness of math books becoming political weapons, and a sudden and bizarre war in Ukraine, and we suddenly find our heads spinning.
How does a sane person stay sane? By doing something completely counterintuitive – remembering the Holocaust. This week we observed Yom HaShoah, the day that memorializes the six million who were murdered and honors the survivors.
How can this be helpful? Because we know that during the horrors of the Shoah the Jewish world was horribly damaged, but it was not destroyed.
We are here. This week, I watched a Holocaust survivor light a memorial candle with his grandchildren by his side. We have persisted through the centuries, through pogroms, evictions from entire countries, prejudice, hatred, and now, antisemitic events that are rampant world wide but especially here in the United States.
We are still here. And we will be here for many generations to come. How do I know this? Because two thousand years of history has proven our resilience.
We will do more than survive, we will thrive. And we will continue to be blessed. Of this I am certain.