for Parshat Metzorah
When a man is cured of the skin-sickness
the priest guides him back to purity:
The priest shall command that two birds are taken,
and he shall command that one bird be slaughtered,
and he shall send the living bird loose into the open field.
Then the skin-sick man returns to purity.
On Yom Kippur,
the day we are forgiven,
the High Priest takes two goats
and puts his hands in a box
and casts lots on each goat—
one for HaShem,
to be sacrificed;
one to be sent away
by another priest
to a barren land.
And we are forgiven.
The priest purifying the man
commands that a bird be slaughtered
and sends the second bird away himself.
The High Priest’s goats
are chosen by chance—
which is to say: by God—
and another man sends the second goat away.
How do we bring purity?
We command the world:
we shape, force the world into something religious.
But also we say:
the world is not ours to shape,
it is not ours,
the world is God’s.
Leviticus 14:1-8, 16:1-22
I am indebted to Rav Ezra Bick for the underlying metzorah / Yom Kippur parallel.
For more thoughts like these, buy my book: The House at the Center of the World: Poetic Midrash on Sacred Space