Short vidui and long vidui YOM KIPPUR 5780

Here are versions of the “Ashamnu” and “Al Kheyt” Yom Kippur viduim (Confessions of our sins) combining the traditional texts and our modern Israeli sins.   For many years I have prepared a modern version of Al Kheyt, and in more recent years, I have added the Ashamnu. I am grateful to some of the suggestions that I received over the years from colleagues, particularly members of my former NGO, “Rabbis For Human Rights.”  I now prepare this on behalf of my current Israeli human rights NGO, “Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice.”  The Hebrew version will be both on my facebook page (Arik Ascherman) and that of Torat Tzedek.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart spur us to make ourselves and our society better-to return to our truest and highest selves.

G’Mar Khatima Tova-May the Final Seal Be For the Good.

First, some words of introduction.  Reciting these words may not feel like prayer because, like the traditional vidui, it is concrete and asks us to take individual responsibility for the collective sins of our society and our people.  The confessions were never meant to be just a collection of words that we thoughtlessly recite on Yom Kippur.  They are burning words, intended to make us feel uncomfortable because they speak painful truths about our lives and our society and our people that we must confront if we are to truly engage in the  kheshbon nefesh (soul searching) that is a primary task during this season. We can then engage in “teshuvah.” Often translated as “repentance,” it means to hear and answer the call of God and conscience, make an effort to turn and change, and return to our truest and highest selves individually and collectively.

Just as the High Priest in ancient times had to recite his own vidui before saying a vidui for others, we need to look at our own sins before we recount the sins of others.  One misses the point if one reads these modern versions in order to criticize those we don’t agree or identify with.  The vidui is in the plural, because we say that, even if I have not personally committed these sins, my society has committed the sins recited in the traditional or the modern vidui, and I therefore share responsibility.  This vidui is written for those who in some way identify Israel, and include themselves in the Israeli “we” when we recite “For the sins we have committed…”  If you are not a part of the Israeli “we,” you might want to construct a similar vidui looking at the societies and communities of which you are a part, and share responsibility for.

For some the sin they must confess is always assuming the worst about Israel, while others must confess defending Israel, no matter what.

If some of the lines do not feel to you like they apply to Israeli society, please try to drop your defenses, and think again.  If you still don’t think something applies, we again hope that the Torat Tzedek vidui will challenge you to create your own.  Please feel free to download the word version of our vidui, then cut and paste and add and subtract to create your own personal/societal vidui. The point is to challenge you to engage in khesbon nefesh (soul searching), not to silence or intimidate. It is also possible to only recite a limited number of these texts, and concentrate on them. In many cases the first line is from the traditional viduis, and there are notes after the vidui explaining which traditional sources many of the concepts are taken from.

Most of us simply can’t  be so self critical for most of the year.  But, sometimes the power of the High Holy days allows us to do what we don’t manage to do at other times of the year. These viduis are not intended to be a delegitimization of ourselves, of our people or our country.  They are actually an expression of our deep faith in ourselves, our ability to return to the good that is our true selves, and our ability to improve our society.

When we engage in kheshbon nefesh about ourselves and Israel on Yom Kippur, we can then celebrate our personal and Israeli assif rukhani (spiritual harvest) on Sukkot-our attributes and accomplishments that we are proud of. The vidui and the assif go together.

 

“Short” Vidui 5780

 

Ashamnu                   We have sinned against You by ignoring Your Image in every human being

Bagadnu                    We have betrayed the Torah, and our Declaration

                                       of  Independence

Gazalnu                     We have stolen lands and hope

Dibarnu Dofi           We have slandered those who think differently than us

He’Evinu                   We have distorted the truth

V’Hirshanu              We have acted wickedly, evicting East Jerusalem

families

Zadnu                         We have acted evilly towards those living in poverty

Khamasnu                We have used the power of the State violently to

                                                dispossess

Tifalnu Sheker        We have told lies about the Bedouin “taking over.”

Ya’atznu Ra             We have counseled evil to sell arms to rogue

governments

Kizavnu                     We have falsely claimed that the Nation State Law doesn’t discriminate

Latznu                        We have scoffed at those who believe in Tikun Olam

Maradnu                   We have rebelled against the good within us.

Niatznu                      We have incited against asylum seekers

Sararnu                     We have undermined our courts

Avinu                          We have committed iniquity against Susya and

Khan Al Akhmar

Pashanu                     We have transgressed against Umm Al Hiran

Tzararnu                   We have oppressed Al Araqib

Kashinu Oref          We have stubbornly flaunted international law

Rashanu                     We have acted wickedly towards single parent

Mothers and those in need of public housing

Shikhatnu                 We have corrupted Your Image within us

Tiavnu                        We have committed abomination against shepherds seeking to feed their flocks and farmers trying to reach their olive groves.

Tainu                          We have strayed from Your Path

Tiatanu                      We have caused soldiers and police to go astray by leading them to believe they are above the law.

 

“Long” Vidui 5780

 

For the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “If I am not for myself who will be for me,”

Caring only for fellow Jews, and justifying injustice to others.

And for the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “If I am only for myself, who am I,”

Caring only about non-Jews, and always blaming our own people.

And for the sin we have sinned against You by ignoring “If not now, when,” 

As we silenced those suffering by saying, “It will take time – You will have to wait.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through false and harsh judgments,

Lacking faith in Your ability to help us act justly, the good within our people,

and our capability of doing better.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through offensive talk,

Scorning those whose concept of justice is different than ours.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through baseless hatred

Towards human rights defenders.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through baseless hatred

Towards those concerned with Israel’s security.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through evil speech,

                Assuming that human rights defenders don’t care about security,

and those who care about security don’t care about human rights.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You by justifying

The current reality as the ideal reality.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through knowingly deceiving ourselves,

                Saying, “there is nothing we can do,” in order to justify inaction.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You willfully or unintentionally,

Believing that tikun olam (repairing the world) is beyond us, “In the heavens.”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through faintness of heart

                Ceasing to believe “It is very close to you…that you may do it.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against you by throwing off the yoke,

                Saying it is the responsibility of others to improve the world.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through lip-service,

Complaining about injustice and studying about our responsibility, without intending to translate knowledge into action.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through short sightedness:  

Believing in instant fixes, we neglected long term solutions and education.

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

 

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through breach of trust,

Allowing the majority to “democratically” trample the rights of the disadvantaged and minorities

And for the sin we have sinned against you by gathering to do harlotry,

                Creating a majority to do every evil our hearts wished.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you by breaking the most basic ground rules,

                Undermining our legal system to make it look and think like the Knesset.

And for the sin we have sinned against you by going too far

                Threatening to destroy entire communities.

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through the desecration of Your Name,

Applying the interpersonal commandments only towards Jews.

And for the sin which we have sinned against You through insolence,

Claiming that only Jews have rights to the Land.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you knowingly and deceitfully,

                Exploiting unjust laws to “Judaize” East Jerusalem.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through harsh and unfair judgment.

                The KKL/JNF has won a judgment ordering the eviction of the Sumarin family

                based on the interpretation of  the Absentee Property Law the Government later

                promised not to use.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you by breach of trust-

                The KKL/JNF evicted the Ghozlan family, although they saved Jews in 1929.

And for the sin we have sinned against you ensnaring our fellow-

Elad founder David Beeri befriending the Abbasi family, and then used information gained to take over most of their home through the Absentee Property Law.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through denying and lying

                Using questionable evidence to evict families from Sheikh Jarakh.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through denying and lying

                Refusing to entertain new evidence that could prevent the threatened evictions

                of the Sabagh and other families.

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

 

 

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through drunken vision,

Not seeing Israeli Arabs as equal partners.

And for The sin we have sinned against You through false oaths

About equal rights.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through defiling our lips

With hate speech and racism.

And For the sin we have sinned against You by not using our minds,

Believing the Bedouin are “taking over the Negev.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through denial and falsehood,

Not recognizing Bedouin land ownership we previously acknowledged.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through selfish envy,

Coveting  the  5.4% of the Negev claimed by the Bedouin.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through abuse of power,

Demolishing Bedouin homes, destroying crops and foresting over villages

And for the sin we have sinned against You through hurrying to do evil,

Rushing to steal land before a court rules who owns it.

And for the sin we have sinned against You by incriminating

                Jailing Sheikh Sayakh for “trespassing” on his own land.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through hardening our hearts,

Acting mercilessly to wipe out Umm Al Hiran

And for the sin we have sinned against You through negotiation

We cancelled one agreement , imposed another, and now seek to cancel that as well.

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through indulging in food and drink,

As the social gap increases.

And for the sin which we have sinned against You through abandoning your Torah,

By abandoning responsibility for one another.

 

For the sin which we have sinned against You through hardening our hearts,

To grinding poverty.

For the sin we have sinned against You through not taking action (shev v’al ta’aseh),

Claiming we aren’t responsible.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through quieting our conscience,

Giving charity rather than addressing the roots of poverty.

For the sin we have sinned against You through lashon ha’ra (slander),

Treating those living in poverty as leeches.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through raising barriers,

Setting unfair criteria denying the needy public housing.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through leaving buildings empty,

While many lack homes.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through trapping innocents.

                In endless debt

And for the sin we have sinned against You through casting aside the weak,

Underfunding healthcare and vital medicines.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You, saying, “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours,”

To justify the unfair distribution of resources.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through usury and exploitation

Putting profits before people.

 

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through idolatry,

Elevating the Land of Israel over human beings created in Your Image.

For the sin we have sinned against You because we were seduced and blinded

                By the Land’s holiness, so that we couldn’t see Your Image in fellow human beings.

 

For  the sin we have sinned against You through  ruling high handedly,

Making ourselves the lawmakers, judges and enforcers over another people.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through cynical speech

                Calling the decrees we imposed on others, “the rule of law.”

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through land theft,

                Through the laws we imposed.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through not enforcing laws,

That defend Palestinians.

 

For the sin we have sinned against you through unfair double standards (eifah v’eifah)

We created separate planning systems for Jews and Palestinians.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through ensnaring our fellow-

                The Palestinian system prevents legal building, and then we demolish “illegal” homes.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through disingenuous words

Saying that were we not to demolish the homes of the occupied the same as of the occupier, THAT would be a double standard.             

 

 

And for the sin we have sinned against You through closing our ears-

Ignoring children’s wails when demolishing their “illegal” homes.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through the words of our lips,

Claiming housing is not a Palestinian right.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through “legal” approval-

Our High Court consents to discriminatory policies and demolitions.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You knowingly or unknowingly-

Permitting successive governments to steal, demolish, uproot, dispossess and humiliate.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through weakness-

Failing to prevent  “Price Tag” attacks.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through entrapment-

Abusing children to extract confessions.

And for the sin we have sinned against You by claiming that “never again”

Means that defense justifies everything.

 

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through closing our borders

To asylum seekers fleeing for their lives.

And for the sin we have sinned against You through causing needless hatred-

Concentrating asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv neighborhoods, not ours.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You thoughtlessly-

Labeling them “infiltrators” without fairly processing their refugee status claims

For the sin we have sinned against You through our words-

Inciting and sowing fear.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through abandonment-

Taking no responsibility after forcing “voluntary deportation.”

And for the sin we have sinned against You through entrapment-

Denying work permits, then complaining of crime.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through forgetting

How we suffered from closed borders.

And for the sin we have sinned against You for forgetting

That we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

 

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through the desecration of Your Name-

Ignoring “agunot” (women not granted a Jewish divorce) and halakhic solutions.

 

For the sin we sinned against you saying, “We didn’t know”

But, we knew.

And, for the sin we sinned against You without knowing- 

Not wanting to know

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through teaching

Stereotypes, racism, orientalism and hatred of the other.

And for the sin we have sinned against you through blindness

To Your Presence in every human being.

 

For the sin we have sinned against You through faintheartedness-

                Acting from fear, instead of our values.

And for the sin which we have sinned against You through thinking to ourselves and mumbling in closed rooms 

            What we should have cried aloud, raising our voices like a shofar.

 

For all these sins and more, God of forgiveness, we seek forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.

 

 

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts bring us to true teshuva, pushing us to act to make the world a place in which Your Shekhina can dwell.

 

May it be Your Will that we merit to give expression to Your Image within us in the coming year through how we treat others.

 

May it be Your Will that we in some small way help to reduce evil and injustice, glorifying You by improving the human condition in our country and in our world. For, we are all created in Your Image.

 

 

 

 

References:

 

Because we sometimes use translations of phrases from the traditional vidui that are different than the ones you may find in your High Holy Day prayerbook, we provide here a transliteration of the key words from the traditional vidui, as well as other references that are found in the Torat Tzedek vidui. If no reference is found here, that means that the phrase in question is not taken from the traditional vidui or other source.

The next three phrases are a well known quote from Hillel in Pirkei Avot 1:14:

“If I am not for myself who will be for me,” Im eyn ani li, mi li

If I am only for myself, who am I – K’sh’ani l’atzmi, mah ani

If not now, when – Im eyn akshav, az ei-matai

False and harsh judgments – Flilut

Offensive talk – Dibur peh

Baseless hatred-Sinat khinam

Evil Speech-Lashon HaRa

Justifying – Tziduk hadin

Knowingly deceiving ourselves-B’da’at u’vmirmat atzmeinu

Willfully or unintentionally – B’zadon u’v’shgaga

In the heavens – “The Torah I enjoin upon you this day is not baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach.  It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it’ …No, the thing is very close to you, in our mouth and in your heart, to observe it,” Deuteronomy 30:11-12

Faintness of heart-Timahon levav

Throwing off the yoke – Frikat ol

Lip service – Vidui peh

Short sightedness –Kalut rosh – literally levity or lack of seriousness

Breach of trust-Tsomet yad

Gathering to do harlotry-V’idat znut

Breaking the most basic ground rules-shvirat hakelim

Going too Far-Harkhat lekhet

Desecration of Your Name –Khilul haShem

Insolence –  Azut metzakh

Knowingly and deceitfully-B’da’at u’v’mirmah

Harsh and unfair judgment-Flilut

Breach of trust-Tsomet yad

Ensnaring our fellow-B’zdiat reah

Denying and Lying-B’khakhash u’v’khazav

Drunken vision – Shikur ayin

False Oaths-B’shvuot Shav

Defiling our lips – Tum’at sfatayim

Not using our minds – Bli da’at

Denial and falsehood  – Khakhash u’khazav

Selfish envy-Tzarut Ayin

Abuse of power – Khozek yad

Running to do evil – ritzat reglayim le’ha’ra

Incriminating-flilut

Hardening our hearts – Imutz halev

Negotiation-Masa u’matan

Eating and drinking-B’Ma’akhal u’v’mishteh

Abandoning Your Torah-B’azveinu et Toratekha

Hardening our hearts – Imutz halev

Not taking action – shev v’al ta’aseh

Quieting our conscience – Hashtakat matzpun

Slander – Lashon hara

Raising barriers – Ha’amadat miksholim

Leaving buildings empty – Hashirnu binyanim reykim

Trapping innocents-b’neskhekh u’marbit-Literally, “Userous interest”

Casting off the weak – Kfitzat yad lelu sh’tash kokham. Miserliness to those whose strength has abandoned them. “Whose strength has abandoned them” is part of the plea to God in the Yom Kippur liturgy “Do not cast us aside in our old age, don’t abandon us when our own strength fails us.”

“What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours” Sheli, sheli-shelkha shelkha – Pirkei Avot One who says “What is mine is mine, what’s yours is mine is clearly an evil person, while one who says “What is mine is mine, what is yours is yours is an average person.  However, we are told that there are those who say that this is the quality of the Sodomites, because they would offer no help to a person in need, but say that they were ok, so long as they didn’t take anything from that person.

 

Usury and exploitation – B’neshekh  u’b’marbit

Idolatry-Avodah zarah

Seduced and blinded – shikur ayin

Ruling high handedly – yad ramah

Cynical speach-Bitui Sfatayim

Land theft-gzeilat karkaot

Not enforcing laws-Ei akhifat khok

Double standards – Eifah v’eifah (Originally in the Torah referring to false weights and measures, the rabbis expanded the concept to refer to many forms of discrimination.)

Plotting – tz’dayat raiah – Plotting against those who are essentially like us (Raiah is often translated “neighbor”-“Love your neighbor as yourself,” but better translated as those who are essentially like us.  All human beings are essentially like us because we are all created in God’s Image.

Closing our ears-Atimat ozneinu

Words of our lips – siakh sfateinu – Literally the conversation of our lips.

Legal approval- tziduk hadin

Knowingly or unknowingly- B’yodim u’v’lo yodim

Weakness-Ozlat yad

Entrapment – flilut

Never again – l’olam lo od

Closing our borders-N’eilat sha’arim. On Yom Kippur we pray for forgiveness before the gates are closed-Neilah

Needless Hatred-Sinat Khinam

Thoughtlessly-Bli da’at

Our words-dibur peh

Abuse of power-khozek yad

Abandonment – Hafkarat b’nei adam

Entrapment-tzdayat reah

Forgetting-shikhakha

Desecration of Your Name –khilul HaShem

We didn’t know-Lo Yadanu

Without knowing-bli da’at

Teaching-khinukh

Blindness-Ivaron

Faintheartedness – Timahon levav

Cried out loud, raising our voices as a shofar (Adopted from Yom Kippur Morning Haftorah, Isaiah 58)

 

 

About the Author
Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization "Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice." Previously, he led "Rabbis For Human Rights" for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman is a sought after lecturer, has received numerous prizes for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 "Israel vs Israel." He and "Torat Tzedek" received the Rabbi David J. Forman Memorial Fund's Human Rights Prize fore 5779. Rabbi Ascherman is recognized as a role model for faith based human rights activism.
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