Yom Kippur and the Roll of the Dice

David Curwin Tradition Online | October 3, 2022

The goral (casting of lots) takes a central role on Yom Kippur. It is the method the high priest used to select which goat should be sent to the desert, and in the afternoon of Yom Kippur we read of how the sailors used the goral to determine that Jonah was the cause of the storm. The same lots give the name to the holiday of Purim, which according to the familiar adage, Yom Kippurim is similar to. But what is the nature of the goral? A popular view is that casting the goral is a way of revealing a divine truth. But, as David Curwin examined in the pages of TRADITION, there is another perspective, supported by biblical and rabbinic literature, in which the goral is actually a random role of the dice. While that randomness may be difficult to digest from a religious perspective, he analyzes a sermon from R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik which shows that it is actually essential to the psychological conditions required for teshuva. In this way, the goral allows us to achieve our spiritual goals for the holiest of days.

Read David Curwin’s “Goral – Can We Let God Roll the Dice?” TRADITION (Spring 2021).



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