Note to the electronic TT readers:
This week’s hard-copy of Torah Tidbits contains an 8-page vidui section, usable
for davening on Yom Kippur. The following are excerpts from that section, with
the hopes that it will prove helpful to you as well.
VIDUI - “verbal confession”
When you finish the main body of the Amida - with HA-M’VAREICH ET AMO YISRAEL
BASHALOM (in Chutz LaAretz, some finish the bracha with OSEH HASHALOM) - Mincha
of Erev Yom Kippur, and Maariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Mincha of Yom Kippur (Ne'ila
has different text), you can put your Machzor down and use these pages for VIDUI.
The text has been supplemented by English MEANINGS (rather than translations) to
help focus your KAVANA while saying this important part of the YK davening.
Also, added to each word of the ASHAMNU part of VIDUI are other sins associated
with the same letter of the Alef-Bet, which the CHAYEI ADAM and other sources
recommend be on one's mind, in one's heart, (and from one's lips), during VIDUI.
The alphabetical presentation of ASHAMNU does not mean that there are only 24
kinds of sin; rather, it is meant to convey that we - as individuals and as a
community - have sinned "from A to Z". The letter KAF, for example, stands for
KIZAVNU, we have lied. But KAF also stands for other sins, such as anger (KA’AS),
being ungrateful (KAFUI TOV), not paying wages on time, calling others by
pejorative nicknames, and more. These too require T’SHUVA and VIDUI.
This presentation of VIDUI will hopefully be of help towards a
more meaningful VIDUI. VIDUI is NOT just tapping the left side of your chest
with your fist as you rattle off the ABC's of sin. It should be taken seriously
- and slowly - as a verbalization of one's thoughts and feelings of T'shuva.
Sometimes, this verbalization follows the T'shuva process that has already taken
place in one's heart and with one's improved actions. Sometimes, the VIDUI is
the starting point - that which calls your attention to areas of behavior and
thought that need improvement. Either way, VIDUI is an essential part of the
T'shuva process. Verbalization is often that which allows one to focus on
personal shortcomings and embark on the road to repentance.
Remember, T'shuva is one of the greatest gifts from G-d to His
people. It is the expression of His Divine Mercy and Love. If He did not want us
to straighten ourselves out, He would simply punish us without giving us a
second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chance to repent. Our motivations for
T'shuva should be fear AND love of G-d. The challenge is awesome, but it is
always possible for one to change for the better. Step by step. Never be
discouraged by what seems to be too formidable a task. Be encouraged by the fact
that this is what G-d wants of us - not to punish us, but for us to return to
Him in strengthened faith, in better performance of mitzvot - qualitatively and
quantitatively, and to more carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin - against G-d
and in our interpersonal conduct.
Some say the following pasuk (reference to Y’H’YU L’RATZON...)
to officially conclude the Amida before beginning the VIDUI section (as well as
saying it again at the end of VIDUI). Others say it only at the end (right
before taking the steps back), unless one must "interrupt" VIDUI for K'DUSHA or
the like. This means that if one is in the middle of VIDUI when the congregation
is ready for K'DUSHA, he should say this pasuk, which permits saying the 3 main
K'DUSHA p'sukim, and then continue the VIDUI, with this pasuk repeated at the
end. Recommendation: don't say this pasuk until the end of VIDUI, unless
In this opening passage of VIDUI, we ask G-d that our prayers come before Him
and that He not ignore them. We also say that we are not chutzpadik or stubborn
enough to claim that we are free of sin, but the fact is that we (and our
ancestors) have sinned. This simple statement is the first step to T'shuva - we
For each of the following 24 "terms of sin", one symbolically strikes the left
side of his/her chest with the right fist. Before or after saying the word
itself, sight-read the English text and allow your mind and heart to really
become part of the VIDUI process by backing up your words. Don't hesitate to
actually say more than the text - in Hebrew or English - adding your personal
prayers, thoughts, and feelings. Talk to G-d. This is a special time to do that.
(Don't worry about being slower than others.)
The first part of the English text is based on the word itself.
Then, in [square brackets] are SOME of the items included by Rabbi Moshe
Sternbach in HaDerech L'T'shuva. Remember that the connection is based on the
Alef-Bet, so it might not be obvious from the English.
Also, keep in mind that we must repent once-in-a-while
violations - not just whole behavior patterns. E.g. "We have eaten questionable
foods." This is not just for a person who doesn't keep kosher; it is also for a
person who is strictly kosher, but once in a rare while will say "this product
is PROBABLY okay even without a Hashgacha", etc. Or - one is usually sensitive
to the feelings of others, but thought something was SO funny, that he just had
to share it with another person. Etc. Etc. Etc.
We have become guilty... of a whole variety of sins. What we
have done was not necessarily to rebel against G-d, but we nonetheless are
devastated by our behavior
[We have eaten - forbidden foods, questionable foods, without brachot, without
proper manners and concern for others; there is something lacking in our faith
in G-d (even just sometimes); we don't always say Amen properly, we have a cruel
We have betrayed G-d by not doing His mitzvot properly and by doing certain sins
in a way that is disloyal to G-d; we have betrayed family & friends
[We have wasted prayer and Torah study time; we were not careful with Milk &
Meat; we relied on ourselves sometimes to the exclusion of trusting in G-d; we
have said "sloppy" brachot; we have belittled parents, teachers, scholars,
friends; we have wasted time...]
We have stolen — things, time, someone’s sleep, ideas; we have deceived others
[We have been arrogant; wrongly took credit for something; harmed or annoyed
others; not raised our children properly; have not been strict enough about
sexual behavior; have not repaid kindnesses properly...]
We have slandered — G-d (by questioning His justice and kindness) and people.
We has said one thing and meant something else.
[We have gossiped, defamed, used vulgarities, spoken disrespectfully, shouted -
misused the power of speech; not given people the benefit of the doubt...]
Remember: whether habitual behavior or once in a while, T'shuva is necessary.
We have caused perversion, corrupted others
[We have entertained improper thoughts — during davening, Torah learning, or in
general; we have davened without kavana; burdened others; encroached on
another's "space"; looked at indecent pictures, literature, etc.]
And we have caused wickedness; caused others to sin
[we have neglected to be properly respectful of G-d; showed lack of concern for
the possessions of others; said we're sorry without trying to mean it; fomented
dissent; joined with others and wasted time on nonsense...]
We have sinned intentionally, and then have rationalized our behavior. (This
makes T'shuva all the more difficult)
[We have taken G-d's Name in vain; been careless about ritual washing of our
hands; been disrespectful to our parents; we "ate like pigs"; mingled
immodestly; threw food around...]
We have extorted; we have taken advantage of those weaker than us; we have
pressured others to give in to us
[we have caused Chilul HaShem; we have falsely flattered others; thought bad
thoughts; unjustly suspected others of wrongdoing; desecrated the Shabbat; not
paid our debts; desired (in an unhealthy manner) the possessions of others...]
We have "attached" ourselves to falsehood; lying has become a part of our lives;
we have accused others falsely; compounded lies by lying more; hung out with the
[we have given erroneous opinions and advice; defiled ourselves and others;
handled Muktza on Shabbat or Yom Tov; belittled Good and chosen Bad...]
We have give evil counsel; we have abused the trust of others; advised others in
ways that are not in their best interest
[we have secluded ourselves improperly with members of the opposite sex; joined
others in time-wasting activities; knowingly sinned; lacked proper reverence &
awe for G-d...]
We have been deceitful; made intentionally misleading statements; false
promises; have not tried hard enough to keep our promises
[we have made HaShem angry at us; been ungrateful; intended to harm others (even
if we didn't); wasted time; delayed paying wages; called others "put down"
We have clowned around about matters that we should have treated seriously; we
have ridiculed good people; we've made a joke of things that prevents us from
proper repentance because we don't take things seriously enough
[we have not learned Torah properly; worn Shaatnez; not been kind & charitable;
not been meticulous about mitzvot & halacha; not been scrupulous in our dealings
We have rebelled; defied G-d's will; sinned because of lack of complete faith
[we have held others back from doing mitzvot; not behaved properly in
We have angered G-d by disregarding His mitzvot, etc.
[we violated promises and vows; took revenge and bore grudges; benefited from
this world without brachot; were lazy in Torah learning and service of HaShem...]
We have turned away, ignored our responsibilities to G-d (and to our fellows)
[we have turned from from Jewish customs; contradicted our parents or Torah
authorities; dealt with contraband; forgiven others in word, but not in our
We have been perverse and have sinned because of perverted reasoning; we have
deliberately sinned to gratify our desires
[we have been falsely modest; a burden to our spouse; we were insensitive to
orphans & widows; we have violated (minor) prohibitions...]
We have acted wantonly; we have denied the validity of (some) mitzvot; we
basically believe in G-d and Torah, but have disregarded a specific mitzva
[we have rejected the Yoke of Heaven; we were afraid to reproach someone; we
turned our hearts to idleness; we opened someone else's mail; we lacked fear of
We have persecuted others; caused others to suffer; been callous to others
[we have distressed our family members; we put our needs before G-d's...]
We have been stubborn; we have refused to see G-d's Hand in life; we have
ignored or denied that what happens in this world is not chance, but is G-d's
[we have been jealous of others; been stingy with Tzedaka; read improper books;
listened to and accepted Lashon HaRa; not been careful with Kriyat Sh'ma...]
We have been wicked; done sins that are particularly identified with wickedness,
such as hitting others, stealing, planning to sin
[we have pursued honor; quarreled for no good reason; ran after temptations...]
We have corrupted our character; been arrogant; been extremely angry; vulgar -
sins which affect one's character
[we have lied; forgotten G-d and our commitment to Him; were silent when we
should have objected; gloated over another's misfortune; hated others;
squandered physical & spiritual energies...]
We have been abominable; have become loathsome to G-d; immorality; idolatry;
[we have desired sinful things; belittled the Torah; we did not take the
opportunity to repent; were not careful with our T'filin; were sloppy with
We have strayed; drifted further away from G-d rather than getting closer to Him
You have let us go astray (lost the merit to benefit from Your help); we have
misused freedom of choice for ourselves and caused others to do the same
This is a summary of sorts of the above, that says:
We have veered away from Your mitzvot and good rules, and we haven't benefited
from it at all. We acknowledge that Your judgments against us are just, because
You act truthfully and we have brought evil upon ourselves. (Nonetheless, please
What can we say to You, G-d; You know everything; nothing is
hidden before You...
Therefore, may it be Your will that You forgive, pardon, and
atone our many sins...
After summarizing, we once again use an alphabetical format
(this time it’s a double alphabetical arrangement) to enumerate a multitude of
sins. And once again, the custom is to strike the heart (left side of the chest)
for each AL CHEIT...
For the sin that we have sinned before You...
accidentally (or under duress) and willingly - even when we
don't mean to sin, we still have to repent, for it indicates some lack in us
that a sin was done by us. How much more so, when it is intentional
through hardness of the heart - refusing to admit that we might
be wrong often results in sin. We have to be more humble...
through ignorance - lack of Torah learning results in doing the
Rather than plead ignorance, we must strive for greater
with words - many sins, especially related to misuse of the power of speech,
such as flippant oaths, cursing, gossip. We must be more careful of what emerges
from our lips...
in public or in private - sins in public are potential
desecration of G-d's Name; sins in private often indicate fear of what others
will think, but a disregard for what G-d thinks. Both are bad.
through immorality - this includes a wide variety of sins and
includes the sins themselves as well as that which a person does that causes
lust and leads to the more serious sins...
with harsh speech - generally, this refers to misuse of the
power of speech in all forms; specifically, it refers to speaking harshly to
someone and unjustly hurting his feelings.
with knowledge and deceit - refers to using our knowledge in
order to deceive and take advantage of others. We also can deceive ourselves.
through thoughts - this includes fantasizing about sin; such thoughts are the
root of sin and also interfere with Torah learning and davening. One cannot say
that he was only THINKING but not doing wrong.
through wronging a fellow - deceiving, taking advantage of a
friend, etc.; also refers to unfair treatment in business
by insincere confession - T'shuva must be "in your mouth and in
your heart, to do..." Let our words motivate us to sincere repentance and let
our sincere repentance be accompanied by proper VIDUI
in immoral gatherings - being part of a group whose
conversations are improper can easily lead one astray. "But everyone else was
willfully and carelessly - even when we did not mean to sin, we
have what to repent - we should have been more careful, etc.
by belittling parents (in-laws, too) and teachers - this is not
only something we do or say, but even something we think. It all is wrong AND it
threatens the strength of the Chain of Tradition.
by exercising power - it is wrong to use one's power to
intimidate others; one must not arrogantly act superior over others.
through desecration of G-d's Name - this includes major Chilul
HaShem as well as relatively minor acts which cause a lowering of one's respect
for G-d or Torah.
through foolish speech - "why do we say stupid things
sometimes?" One has to repent this too, since speech is such a precious and
powerful feature of human beings. Foolish speech often leads to more sin.
through impure lips - this is one of several references to
improper speech; in this case, the subject is vulgar language and cursing.
with the Evil Inclination - we sometimes fail to fight our
Yeitzer HaRa, and rather flirt with it, then give in to it and follow it.
knowingly and unknowingly - we want to repent even sins that we
are unaware of having committed. Also, sins against others who know what we've
done, or don't even know what we've said about them
For all of these sins, G-d of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, atone for us.
(These are different levels of forgiveness - commentators disagree on the
terminology. Basically, we ask G-d to forgive what we've done, not to punish us
for it, not to even hold a sin against us, and to completely erase it, as if we
never did it.)
by yielding to bribery - monetary bribery as well as flattery
with ulterior motives are insidious to honest dealings among people. Bribery and
flattery can blind one and cause a multitude of sins in its wake.
through denial and false promises - we have not been honest,
neither with G-d nor with our fellow human beings. Remember: this need not be a
chronic condition, we must repent even the minor instances of dishonestly.
with Lashon HaRa - another misuse of the power of speech. A particularly serious
sin because it often results in permanent damage to one's reputation, even when
groundless. "But it's true" is not an acceptable excuse for Lashon HaRa. Neither
is "I was only joking".
through fooling around - not taking someone's reproach of us
seriously, laughing it off, will impede T'shuva. Ridiculing others, joking at
someone else's expense are serious offenses.
in business - the laws of business ethics and proper behavior in
the market place are just as much a part of Halacha as is fasting on Yom Kippur.
Since it often causes a Chilul HaShem and because it is often disregarded by
many, it is to be treated very seriously.
with food & drink - one should not pat himself on the back for
keeping kosher; one needs to carefully answer the question: "Am I as careful and
as strict as I ought to be?" "Do I cut corners?" Included in this category of
sin is not making brachot properly, sloppy benching, careless washing for meals,
poor table manners, gluttony, stinginess with guests.
through interest and extortion - taking or paying interest on
personal loans is forbidden. Besides the sin, it causes one to become
through haughtiness - arrogance is a particularly reprehensible
character trait. We must repent sins that result from it as well as work on
ridding ourselves of this negative characteristic.
with prying eyes - this includes looking at forbidden things,
invasion of privacy of others, expressing disapproval of others with a raised
with idle chatter - yet another expression of the misuse of speech. Here it can
refer to davening and benching without kavana, as well as pointless and time-
with haughty eyes - looking down at others. This is parallel to
the earlier reference to haughtiness, a particularly negative trait.
with brazenness - acting without shame and a bit of natural
embarrassment is a contributory factor to a host of other sins
in throwing off the Yoke - we exist to learn Torah, perform
mitzvot, and be good people. Many sins come from shirking our responsibilities.
in judgment - refers to sins of unfair judgment, in the formal
courtroom as well as in everyday life. It even refers to judging G-d.
through entrapping a fellow - taking advantage of others,
manipulating people for our own purposes
through a begrudging eye - being jealous and stingy. Finding
excuses for not giving Tzedaka or being generous with others. Not helping
through lightheadedness - we are often frivolous. This is
especially inappropriate in shul and when learning Torah or davening.
with stubbornness - refusing to recognize that we might be
wrong. Not learning from experience. Not taking constructive criticism. This is
a major obstacle to T'shuva, and we must repent this in order to repent
enthusiastically - One must examine his wrongdoings and see if there is the
added sin of doing them with a smile or with "licking one's lips".
by gossiping - The prohibition includes Lashon HaRa and
character assassination, but also includes telling tales "just like this" with
no intention to hurt anyone. It is all too frequent that people get hurt from
through vain oaths - swearing falsely or frivolously can damage
the underpinnings of interpersonal relationships as well as being a serious lack
of respect to G-d. One has to be extremely careful in this regard.
through baseless hatred - do you hate a person when you should
really be hating the wrong things that he does?. This distinction is crucial for
the proper growth and development of Klal Yisrael.
in matters of "giving a hand" - we have been callous towards the
needs of others. Also, we have sometimes joined with others in evil.
through confusion - this refers to a diminished faith in G-d
caused by not seeing G-d's hand in everything and by doubting the validity of
the Torah and the authority of halacha.
After enumerating different kinds of sins, we ask for
forgiveness of sins according to punishment and style:
For sins which would require a sacrifice in the Beit HaMikdash, then for those
which one gets corporal or capital punishment from Beit Din, or penalties from
Heaven. Then we mention sins of commission and omission, sins we know about and
those of which we - but not G-d - are unaware
G-d, before I was born, I was nothing. Now that I have been born, it's as if I
wasn't... May it be Your will...
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