The relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is often compared to that of a husband and wife. Full of love and even desire, it is meant as a lifelong bond--which for the Jewish people means eternity. The occasional spat, where there is some degree of distance, is to be expected; but the love remains. Even in the tragic case of divorce--when the Temple was destroyed, and we were exiled from our land--G-d promised that He would take us back, and the bond of love for His nation would never be fully severed.
Mashechet Yoma delineates the special Temple service performed on Yom Kippur in great detail--and includes much discussion relating to the daily running of the Temple. It is easy to forget that the Beit Hamikdash was, first and foremost, "a house of prayer for all the nations" (Yishayahu 56:7).
Great literature lends itself to multiple, even contradictory, interpretations. And the Bible is--in addition to everything else--great literature. "Isi ben Yehuda said that five verses in the Torah ein lo hechreh, have no definitive reading: shet (lifted up), mesukadim (shaped like almond blossoms), machar (tomorrow), arrur (cursed), v'kam (stand up)" (Yoma 52a-b).
One of the major debates in Jewish law is whether mitzvoth require kavanah, intent to fulfill the mitzvah (see for example Brachot13a). As a general rule, those mitzvoth which are dependent on actions--for example, shaking a lulav or eating matzah--are mitzvoth for which kavanah, while ideally present, is not required; after all, I did what I had to do.
There is nothing more challenging and important, for a parent and for a community, than raising children. There is no formula for producing wonderful children, and siblings can be so different that it makes us wonder how they came from the same home. The fact that our founding families had great difficulties with their own children should be both frightening and comforting. If Abraham, the paragon of loving kindness, could only inspire one of his eight children to follow in his path, should we be shocked that so many Jewish children throughout the ages have rejected Judaism?
One of the central features of the Yom Kippur service was that involving the two goats: one offered as a sacrifice whose blood was sprinkled on the curtain of the Holy of Holies, and one on which the kohen gadol would offer confession for the sins of the Jewish people before it was led to the desert to be thrown off the mountain.
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.
One of the most difficult things for we humans to do is to admit that we are wrong. Even when we know we have acted in ways that leave much to be desired, we are great at offering excuses, rationalizations, justifications, and the like. This is especially so when we are dealing with an act of omission, rather than one of commission. There are always good reasons to explain why we did not do something.
"The Holy One blessed be He looked into Torah and created the world" (Breisheet Rabba 1:2). Our Sages viewed the Torah as the architectural blueprint for the world, predating creation and serving as the very basis for that creation. The Sages wanted to emphasize that the Divinely ordained ethic is the most natural of lifestyles.