Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kapparah in the death of a Tzaddik

by Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Question: How can the death of a Tzaddik become a Kapparah [atonement]?

Answer: The Tzadik is not a personal individual that has an impact only on himself, he is a public figure who impacts on all those around him; the loss of a Tzadik is therefore a public loss, not an individual or family one. The Tzadikim are here not for themselves, rather for others - that is how they live their lives and that is how they also die; Just as the death serves as atonement to the deceased himself, so the departure of a Tzadik does to his community.


  1. Although the clarification seems to be logical, I'd like to ask whether this kind of approach wouldn't be similar to the one used by the Xtians to justify their concept of the J-Man having been killed to atone for the sins of all mankind?...

    Please help me establish the boundaries between both ideas.

    Thanks & Shalom,
    R. Halevy
    Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

  2. Read the post immediately before this one: where he says:

    So you ask if HaShem is taking them as kaparah on the nation, why worry - we go free, no? No it’s not that simple. That is NOT the way of eternal truth. That concept of a person going kaparah for all your sins and you walking away free is PART of the mistake of the xtian cult.

  3. Yes, Devorah is correct. We have to own up to responsibility and to do teshuvah (return correctly and strive not to make the same mistake again.)
    Once a neighbor of mine, a x-tian lady told me that she explained to her friend that I was cleaning for Pesach one night til quite late and when she told this to her friend, her friend replied, "Oh, I am so glad that jc our lord and savior did it all for us so we would not have to do it."
    I was polite to my neighbor as she is a lovely lady, yet on the inside it was a great example to use as a reinforcement to the fact that to many x-tians, their religion is drive thru, paying much attention to their "god" doing the work for them...Not so in Judaism. One must strive to become own up to the responsibilty all although there are many x-tians who do own up to being responsible people, they do place much weight on their "god" being the barer of their salvation requirements etc.....When a tzadik dies it is a time for us to feel the loss and to strive that much more hard as to our role in making the world better- not to rely on their sacrifice as a way for us to get off of the hook in life for our sins....

  4. How can a person be saved by keeping the law when no one can possibly keep it perfectly?

  5. Look at Moses (Moshe Rabbeinu) Look at what he merited and yet he had his failings, too. We are to strive to keep the mitzvos and yet we know that we are not pefect. The question you ask is an excellent question.
    I believe we are suppose to try and not concentrate on being at a "perfect place", yet the growth in ourselves when we set out on a path of ernestly trying.
    I also believe that Hashem wants us to try and also understand that we are not G-d, so that we will realize the truth: G-d is perfect. There is a quote from judaic sources: " I have tried, therefore I have succeeded". All Hashem wants from you is that you try.Even if a person does not see his successes, they are still there....

  6. But Moses had to offer blood sacrifices for atonement didn't he?