Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is devoted to Teshuva, the process of returning to G-d. A special and repeated part of the Yom Kippur liturgy is the recitation of the Viduy prayer, admitting to and delineating our faults. “Ashamnu, we were guilty, Bagadnu, we rebelled…” and “Al Chet… for the fault..”
Besides admission, another connotation of the term Viduy, a derivative of the word Modeh, is thanks and praise. Modeh Ani, a prayer of thanks to the Al-mighty for granting us another day of life, is the beginning of the Jewish daily prayers. When farmers brought their first fruits, Bikurim, to the Jerusalem Temple they recited a special prayer which was also called Viduy, thanking the Al-mighty for their bountiful crop and good fortune. Why does the solemn confession of our misdeeds use a term that also implies a joyful expression of praise and thanks?
Perhaps due to the sometimes painful process of admitting our wrongs and mending our ways, we forget that the Teshuva process is also an invaluable opportunity to turn the clock back and restart our lives with a clean record. Feelings of guilt and remorse may be essential to Teshuva, but they’re not the goal of Teshuva. Our Father in heaven is giving us another chance. Viduy should ultimately fill us with thanks and praise to the Al-mighty for His willingness to erase the past and welcome us back home. Thank You, G-d, for believing in us! (Based on Sefer Meiras Einayim)
Wishing everyone a meaningful and successful Yom Kippur,
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org