The Strip of Crimson Wool

The Sages taught: During all forty years that Shimon HaTzaddik served as High Priest, the lot for God arose in the right hand. From then onward, sometimes it arose in the right hand and sometimes it arose in the left hand. Furthermore, during his tenure as High Priest, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel turned white, indicating that the sins of the people had been forgiven, as it is written: “Though your sins be as crimson, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). From then onward, it sometimes turned white and sometimes it did not turn white. Furthermore, the western lamp of the candelabrum would burn continuously as a sign that God’s presence rested upon the nation. From then onward, it sometimes burned and sometimes it went out. – Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 39a

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