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    The Book of Vayikra is studded with references to the word Kippur, which has at least two meanings.

    It is linked with kofer, a ransom. When every Israelite male is told to bring half a shekel to the sanctuary, the money is called kessef hakippurim, ransom money.

    There is a further connotation to the root k-p-r – to cleanse.

    The Yom Kippur procedures in the Temple cleansed the people of the sins which disfigured them. Part of the Yom Kippur ritual is the banishment of a scapegoat, which symbolically carries away the sins of the people.

    The idea of the goat is a metaphor for our determination that our misdeeds will be removed as fast and as far as possible. Cleansing requires removal, remorse… and commitment never to repeat the sin (Maimonides, Laws of Repentance, ch.1).

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