Yoma 36: What Sin Comes First?

The kohen gadol performed vidui, confession, three times on Yom Kippur. The first two were done using his own personal bull offering, asking for forgiveness for the sins of his family and for his fellow kohanim. The third vidui, for the sins of the people of Israel, was done with the shair hamistalech, the "scapegoat" that would then be led off to the desert and hurled off a mountain.

Eiruvin 19: Abraham to the Rescue

"G-d wanted to give merit to the Jewish people; therefore, He increased for them Torah and mitzvoth". A Jewish way of life offers so many opportunities for mitzvoth. We accumulate mitzvoth--and hence, merit--for such things as saying good morning to a passerby, conducting a business transaction honestly, showing up in shul to hear shofar, eating a meal on Shabbat, and many other activities that are both easy and enjoyable. 


Sin gets bad press these days, because it is experienced as a guest that brings a whole slew of unwelcome associates into the house--guilt, bad feeling, punitiveness. These alleged running mates of sin are anathema to most, and so the very ability to examine our realities is muted by the desperate postmodern drive to feel good at all costs. And the costs are indeed high, as the soft-pedalling of our spiritual mistakes morphs into a full-blown denial of the need to change.
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