Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vidduy, the mitzva of Yom Kippur


8th of Tishri, 5771

At the individual level, the most prayer of Yom Kippur's prayer is the Viduy. Viduy literally means 'confession'.

The Viduy is the description of the sins and transgressions we might have committed and for which we express regret and decide to keep away from.

In the Viduy we clearly say and 'recite' our transgressions, in the same way that one who is addicted to alcohol has to articulate and say (not think!) "I'm an alcoholic" as one of the firsts step toward his cure.

Only when we are able to articulate and utter our sins, it is considered that we have finally admitted them, and the Almighty, then, accepts our apologies and forgive us.

The Viduy also helps us identify wrongdoings that we might have forgotten or we might have unconsciously suppressed.

Unlike other Tefilot, it is absolutely imperative to understand exactly what we are saying in the Viduy. Or else, regret and contrition for our transgressions will not take place. Therefore, it is not only permitted but almost mandatory to say the Viduy in English if one does not understands Hebrew.

We say the Viduy several times on Yom Kippur and we say it in plural, confessing, many times, transgressions that we clearly know we have not committed. This teaches us that our moral responsibilities go beyond our personal realms - when we see a friend acting wrongly we are commanded by the Torah to privately and politely rebuke him or her, and when we don't, it is considered as if we share their wrongdoings.

The Viduy is written in Hebrew, in alphabetical order.

In the following text - a short version of a Viduy- I present a non literal translation of the Viduy, which will hopefully help us to understand the meaning and ideas of the Viduy.

This text could be used in Yom Kippur alongside the other Viduyim, especially by those who don't have an English Machazor.

May we all be inscribed in the book of forgiveness.

May we all be sealed in the book of life and good health, blessing and success.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton