B”H
A TALE OF TWO GOATS
 
The Goats and the Lots
The Torah describes a Yom Kippur ritual involving two goats. One was dedicated to G‑d and sacrificed in the Holy Temple on the Holiest day of the year. The other goat (which the Talmud states had to be identical to the first one) was sent to a rugged mountain called Azazel and thrown of the cliff to its death. Both procured atonement for the Jewish people.
The question arises why the need for two goats to serve as atonement for the sins of Israel? And why was one sacrificed in the Temple while the other was thrown off a cliff? 
To answer these questions, it is necessary for us to delve more deeply into the way these two goats were chosen, as taken from this week’s parsha with interpolated commentary based on the Talmud and cited in Rashi’s commentary:
From the community of the Israelites, he [the High Priest] must take two male goats as a sin-offering… He must take the two he-goats and place them, one at his right and the other at his left, before G‑d, i.e., at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. A vessel containing two lots must be placed in front of him; on one lot must be written ‘For G‑d’ and on the other, ‘For Azazel.’
Aaron must then draw both lots from this vessel, one with his right hand and one with his left. Aaron must place these lots upon the two he-goats—one lot ‘For G‑d’ and the other lot ‘For Azazel’—placing the lot in his right hand on the goat at his right, and the lot in his left hand on the goat at his left, as follows:
Aaron should bring the male goat upon which the lot ‘For G‑d’ came, and designating it as a sin-offering as he places the lot on it.
The male goat for which the lot ‘For Azazel’ came up must be left standing alive before G‑d, to atone by confessing their sins on it, and by then sending it away into the desert to be pushed off the edge of Azazel to its death.
The Talmud (Yoma 39a) states that the ideal situation existed when the lot for G‑d came up on the High Priest’s right hand and the one for Azazel came up on the left. In fact, this was considered a miracle and characterized the tenure of Shimon Hatzadik (a leader of Israel and High Priest) at the beginning of the Second Temple era. When he passed away, sometimes the lot for G‑d came up in his successors’ right hand and sometimes it did not. However, for the 40 years before the Temple’s destruction, that lot failed to come up on the right at all.
What we can gather from this is that the destruction of the Temple and the ensuing exile are associated with the lot for G‑d coming up on the left.
It stands to reason that the integrity of this system will be restored during the Messianic Age.
What is the connection between these seemingly disparate subjects: two lots, two goats, right and left and Moshiach?
 
Expunging Evil and Getting Closer to G‑d
Rabbi Avraham of Sochotchev, (a Chassidic Master, known by the name of his work, Avnei Nezer) suggests that there are two parallel effects when a person sins: First, the person becomes sullied and then, as a result, he or she is distanced from G‑d.
To reverse these two effects, one must first expunge the undesirable impurities that attached themselves to the person who sinned. This must then be followed up by an effort to restore and even strengthen the person’s positive connection to G‑d.
The two goats represented these two objectives: the goat that was sent away to Azazal represented the removal of the contamination caused by sin. This unleashed a dynamic force that empowered each and every Jew to purge the toxic energy within. By contrast, the goat that was sacrificed in the Temple “for G‑d” took the Jew’s atonement to the next level, for it restored one’s positive relationship with G‑d.
 
Identical
This explanation may also clarify why the two goats had to be identical. It dispels the misconception that we can be filled with toxicity and still be close to G‑d and, conversely, that we can cleanse our soiled soul and imagine that we are now automatically close to G‑d without trying to bolster that affinity.
In truth, both processes are equally necessary, which is also why we were given two sets of commandments in the Torah; the proscriptive and the prescriptive. The former set negates our negativity and the latter draws us close to G‑d.
 
Right and Left Goats
Now, in spite of the duality expressed by both goats being identical, they nevertheless serve different functions. Ideally, we want the goat that represents closeness to G‑d to come up on the right side and the goat that represents the expunging of evil on the left.
Why is this?
Avnei Nezer explains this by referring to a statement in the Talmud concerning proper educational technique: “One should always use the left to push away and the right to bring close.”
The import of this statement is that there are times when we must discipline a student. But, the Talmud counsels us that we must use our left hand (i.e., the weaker hand) to do that. By contrast, when we show love to the student we should use our right (i.e., stronger) hand.
While getting rid of the negative and drawing close to G‑d are equally important in the scheme of realizing G‑d’s will, we must treat them differently. We must expend more energy on the positive and loving aspects of Judaism than we do on fighting the battles against evil.
With this foundation we can understand the need for two goats in the Yom Kippur atonement service. The one offered to G‑d in the Temple was to atone for the way we had come short in advancing our closeness to G‑d. We may have done a Mitzvah properly but we may not have invested in its performance all of our energy, enthusiasm and joy. However, when it comes to ridding ourselves of the undesirable, although it is imperative that we do it perfectly, we must not give it the same focus as we do regarding the enhancement of our positive relationship with G‑d.
 
Then and Now
This approach was more relevant when the spiritual atmosphere was omnipresent such as when the Bais Hamikdash stood.  When the stature of the Bais Hamikdash waned after the passing of Shimon Hatzadik, that emphasis became less prominent. That is why the lot for the goat dedicated to G‑d came up on the left on occasion.   During the 40 years before the Temple’s destruction the spiritual situation declined further.  This marked the beginning of the long and arduous exile, when the emphasis was entirely reversed. Evil tendencies had become so pervasive and insidious that the emphasis on dealing with the negative took over first place from the focus on the positive.
We have entered a new historical phase. As the Rebbe taught us, we have entered into the most propitious Time for Redemption (as distinct from the actual Redemption) and the actual Redemption is right in front of us.  We must return to the era when the positive occupies the front row. This conclusion is based on the Rebbe’s exhortation that the way to bring about the Redemption is to live the way we will be living once the Redemption is fully manifested.
This lesson has assumed even greater urgency in light of recent tragic events. It behooves us all to emphasize more on bringing light than on fighting the evil, although both are imperative. May we see the end of all sorrow and the beginning of the light of Moshiach!