Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Wilderness of Azazel: Yom Kippur Holiday Special: Free Excerpt from "The Five Books of Krinsky"

 This excerpt is from Book 3, Chapter 29 of the soon to be released "Five Books of Krinsky."

The chapter begins, a do all chapters in the book, with a passage from the Torah.
Next comes scenes from the life of Dan Krinsky, a forty something classics instructor at a small Chicago college. Then, a commentary inspired by the biblical passage, the action of the novel, or some random connectivity of both or neither.

This excerpt is from the chapter entitled, "Krinsky and Kara."
What follows is the passage and the commentary.

  Aaron shall bring forward the goat designated by lot for the Lord, which he is to offer as a sin offering; while the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before the Lord, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness of Azazel.
Leviticus: 16:9-10


Commentary: Don't Blame Me

Yom Kippur defines most Jews. If we do nothing Jewish all year: obey a commandment, say a prayer, attend a service, light a candle, Jews do Yom Kippur. We might not pray. We might even eat but we won’t work. We might not even remember the day but it defines us. Even Krinsky’s father, Morris, of blessed memory who believed in God but not in Jews, didn’t work on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the sadder and wiser sibling of Christmas. At least in terms of universality. The most lapsed Christian will get a touch misty on December two five. The most assimilated Jew will know something is up on Yom Kippur.

Oddly the same passage which sanctifies Yom Kippur as the Day of Atonement is also the passage cited above with Azalel and his goat.
To wit...  the priests must have had a hard time coming up with a way of blending an obviously pagan observance with Yom Kippur.   

According to Gunther Plaut’s The Torah: A Modern Commentary   Yom Kippur was a “new creation of the postexilic priesthood.” Postexilic...what a word! This is a celebration after the fact (as it were.)

"Wait. I've got it. We can still send out the goat but this time it will have our sins all over it. Nah. They'll never buy that."
The question then becomes; Whose Hocus-Pocus is more legitimate? The Jews says they were the   first to be embraced by God. The Christians wanted to share the Love with those outside the tribe.   And the Muslims say, fine, all that stuff happened and then Allah came back to the desert and said, there is no God but Allah and it’s time for a big change.
What about Azazel? Where was it, who was it and why did the goat have to go there?
This sounds plausible...“apocryphal Jewish works, composed in the last few centuries before the Christian era, tell of angels who were lured by beautiful women into lust and, and ultimately into rebellion against God. In the writings, Azazel is one of the two leaders of the rebellion.” Plaut, ...
Azazel: Poster from the Rebellion

Another view comes from Babylon. The erstwhile Iraqis and perhaps Iranians  had a big new year festival which lasted for 10 days. On the fifth day, instead of a big college football bowl game, they performed “kuppuru.”
1. Behead ram
2. Rub the walls of the temple
3. Throw ram’s trunk into a river.

Lilith; looking fine and having that ancient 'je ne sais quoi'
Regarding “scapegoat.” Not the original translation, A Brit, William Tyndale coined the term in his translation. Now, it means someone who is blamed for things going wrong and mostly unfairly. In the original, the sins of the community wended their way to the bad place from whence they come. They didn't blame a goat.
Not everyone was enamored  of Tyndale. He translated the Bible from original Greek and Hebrew text into English and mass produced bibles on the newly created printing pressed. For his efforts he was pursued by Henry VIII and ultimately executed.
Now that we are civilized, on Yom Kippur we go to Temple, don’t eat, in traditional settings you don’t bathe or brush your teeth. It’s just you against God. You don’t have a chance. Even for that one day, you are dandruff on the shoulders of the world.

Witches´ Sabbath by Francis Goya (1798)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It's great. Thanks. I'm looking forward to the release.

    Speaking of Book 3, chapter 29, if we multiply that we get 87, which is the number of times the words "cherub" and horseman appears in the Bible; it is also the numerical value of the word "Eden" in Hebrew. Thought you'd want to know.

  3. I was just going to say that about Book 3, Chapter 29.
    Can't believe Roland beat me to it.

  4. Great catch Roland. I forgot that. I remember our high flying Yom Kippur fondly.