A Relatable Translation of the Viduy Confession by Rabbi Daniel Fine
A helpful translation and application of the first section of Viduy that will make your confession more meaningful.
The Viduy confession is the centerpiece of Yom Kippur. During viduy we stand with our posture bent and bang our chests as we list and confess our sins, regretting each one and committing not to do them again. In doing so, we are wiping away past spiritual baggage as we cleanse our sins.
The prescribed list can seem unfamiliar or remote. Below is a helpful translation and application of the first section of Viduy that will make your confession more meaningful.
Ashamnu – we have become guilty, we have destroyed our sense of spirituality
- We have exposed ourselves to things that ruin our sensitivities to spiritual growth
- We waste time and inward focus looking at others’ lives instead of fixing our own
- We have viewed and shared material that is unbefitting
- We struggle to find time for the people and things that matter most in life, yet we freely waste time on meaningless things
Bagadnu – we have betrayed, we have been disloyal
- We freely ask Hashem for things we want or lack, but we do not properly thank Him for what He has given us already
- We fail to notice the good in others, instead we reflect our inner frustrations on them
- We do not listen to people properly – instead we impose our interpretations of what the other person means
Gazalnu – we have robbed
- We rob others of a truthful impression of us, we hide our real selves
- We have used our employers’ time for our own personal purposes
- We make organisational decisions based on our own personal conveniences
- We brush off others’ deceitful actions as funny instead of confronting them
Dibarnu Dofi – we have spoken slander, we have spoken behind people’s backs
- We say things about people we would never say to their faces
- We dismiss others too quickly, without looking at the full picture
- Our children hear ‘no’ or words of negativity and criticism from us far more than they hear ‘yes’ or words of encouragement and praise
- We enjoy reading or watching people making fun of or trolling others
He’evinu – we have caused perversion, we have corrupted others
- We have prioritised short-term wants and current values over Divine wisdom and mitzvos
- We have influenced others to cut corners
- We have not discussed spiritual matters with others enough
- We think and talk about ourselves far too much
- We encourage others to spend time doing meaningless things
Ve’hirshanu – we have caused others to sin, we have spread wickedness
- Is the world a better place because of us?
- Do we try and correct others when they have made bad decisions or when they have done something wrong?
- We prefer not to get involved rather than to stand up for what is right
- Do we emit positive energy and optimism or negative energy and pessimism?
Zadnu – we have sinned intentionally, and then rationalised it
- When was the last time we truly gave up something because of what Hashem wants of us?
- Who influences our moral decisions the most?
- Is our value system in sync with Hashem and His Torah? Who are our role models?
- We begin projects that are exciting at first, but we do not have the commitment to complete them – then we rationalise and justify abandoning them
- We have shied away from making difficult and courageous moral decisions by claiming that there are grey areas
Chamasnu – we have extorted, we have taken advantage of those weaker than us
- We are content with seeing people as ‘lower’ than ourselves
- We have used other people for our projects or favours without properly appreciating them or paying them back
- We make more of an effort with certain people because of their social status
- We point out to others what we feel they are incapable of achieving, without building them up to achieve in areas in which they can excel
Tafalnu Sheker – we have attached ourselves to falsehood
- We have exaggerated, misrepresented or lied about events
- We have believed others’ distorted views of the world
- We have accepted rumours or gossip too quickly, and passed them on to others
- We have judged people too quickly without trying to understand them
Ya’atznu Ra – we have abused trust, we have offered bad advice
- We have been too quick to give advice without thinking it through properly
- We aren’t understanding enough to prompt others to confide in us
- We do not offer impartial advice, especially when we have a conflict of interest
- We have put others in a position where they cannot say ‘no’ to our requests
Kizavnu – we have been deceitful
- We have promised things just to appease others
- We have inflated things that are not of worth in life
- We have used words that are misleading
- We have followed the crowd, irrespective of whether what they are doing is right for us
- We have been selectively lazy, we have been too tired when it suits us to be so
Latznu – we have scorned and made light of serious things in life
- We have made fun of meaningful things in order to shy away from them
- We have thoughtlessly put others down
- We have tolerated a society in which trampling over others is the way to get ahead
- We have not always been proud of our Judaism, we can be willing to hide it
Maradnu – we have rebelled and defied Hashem
- We know what Hashem expects of us, but we have not made a road map of how to get there
- We have viewed mitzvos as cultural feel-good activities, instead of Divine commands to get close to Hashem
- We have been flippant with our relationship with Hashem
Ni’atznu – we have angered God by disregarding His mitzvos
- We have devoted lots of time to our bodies, but not enough for our souls
- We have not taken up opportunities to study Torah when they present themselves
- We have not shown enough reverence and respect to mitzvos
Sararnu – we have turned away, we have ignored our responsibilities
- We have tried to wriggle out of responsibilities in life
- We have recoiled from accepting positions of responsibility
- We do not take the time to develop a considered view on things – we are quick to judge and decide
- We have been cliquey and kept to our own social circle instead of branching out and reaching out to others
Avinu – we have been perverse
- We have done things that do not reflect our potentials
- We have looked at and discussed lowly, undignified things
- We assume that our way of thinking is right
- We do not disassociate ourselves with people who post, discuss or share vulgar things
Pashanu – we have acted wantonly, we have denied the validity of mitzvos
- We have cherry-picked bits of Judaism, we have half-observed the part of Judaism that we fancy
- We have developed conflicted priorities in life
- We do not think long enough about our values
Tzararnu – we have caused suffering
- We have cause others pain and then distanced ourselves
- We have seen others in pain but have walked past them
- We don’t feel each other’s pain enough, preferring to focus on our own lives
- We have not spent enough time pondering the repercussions and knock-on effects on others of decisions we make
Kishinu Oref – we have been stubborn, we have refused to see Hashem’s hand
- We blame Hashem if things go wrong, but don’t praise Him when things go right
- We have seen daily life as a series of coincidences instead of seeing God’s hand
- We speak about people’s achievements in history without speaking about Hashem’s involvement and control
- We remain in our comfort zone, deflecting attempts to grow beyond
Rashanu – we have been wicked
- We do not see ourselves as having a mission to spread goodness in the world
- Sometimes we do not see the world as having objective Divine morals – we see them as matters of choice and convenience
- We have flaunted our sins and publicised them
- We have brushed off our mistakes instead of learning from them
Shichasnu – we have corrupted our characters
- We have been arrogant at times
- We have let our idealism slip away
- We have not self-analysed
Ti’avnu – we have been abominable
- We have lost our self-image too quickly
- We have got angry when things did not go our way
- We have not realised what impacts our characters
Ta’inu – we have strayed, we have drifted further from Hashem
- We lost sight of our goals and we do not accept when we are criticised
- We limit religion to particular days and places
- We do not share our religion with others enough
Titanu – You have let us stray
- We do not call out to Hashem for spiritual help
- We don’t feel bad that we have used freewill to distance ourselves from Hashem
- We do not feel lacking when we ignore our relationship with Hashem
- Fasting for 25 hours on Yom Kippur is undeniably difficult. But there is one thing that can make everything easier:
- Most people think the challenge of fasting is feeling “hungry.” In truth, avoiding thirst is much more important. The average person can survive for a month without food – but only three days without water.
- With proper hydration, not only do you avoid the discomfort of thirst, but you also swallow more frequently, so your stomach does not feel as empty.
- Fasting is easier if you prepare your body in advance. Here are Seven Simple Steps to maximize your hydration on Yom Kippur – leaving you with more strength and energy to do the truly important spiritual work of the day.
- 1) Start early.
- The nausea and headaches that many people experience during a fast are often the result of caffeine withdrawal. Prepare yourself by reducing caffeine intake in the days leading up to Yom Kippur – and then stop caffeine altogether 24 hours before the fast. One trick is to brew mixtures of regular and decaffeinated coffee, increasing the proportion of decaf as you progress.
- 2) Pace yourself.
- The morning before Yom Kippur, start with a large breakfast – based on cereals, breads and fruits. It will provide good energy during the day, yet these high-fiber foods will be far downstream by the time of the pre-fast meal when you’ll want a hearty appetite.
- A large breakfast is also helpful because it stretches the stomach, preparing to receive more food and water later.
- Eat a moderate lunch, early enough so that you will have an appetite for the final meal before the fast.
- Start the final meal at least an hour before the fast begins, so there is no rush to eat quickly.
- 3) Avoid thirst-inducing foods.
- One important way to remain well-hydrated is to avoid anything that will cause your body to get rid of water. Chocolate, tea, cola and coffee should be avoided, since caffeine has diuretic effects when consumed in large amounts (3+ cups daily). Alcohol is also a no-no, as it requires extra water to process through the system.
- The other problematic food – salt – is well-known for causing thirst. Avoid salty foods such as pickles, cold cuts, cheese, canned fish, smoked fish and the Jewish comfort foods: chicken soup and brisket. Fresh fish and boiled chicken are good alternatives.
- 4) Carbs over protein.
- Plan the menu of the final meal so that it emphasizes carbohydrates and low salt foods like pasta, potatoes, rice and bread (preferably brown rice and whole-wheat bread). These carbohydrates bond with water which your body can “drink” when it needs to during the fast.
- Salads and other high-fiber foods should be minimized, since they travel quickly through the digestive system and provides little long-term satiation.
- The final meal should include only small amounts of protein, which actually attracts and leaches water from your tissues. (Most of the dramatic weight loss that people experience on high-protein diets is lost water that protein molecules cannot hold onto or bring into your system – water that you want around during a fast.)
- 5) “Camel up.”
- The key to an easy fast is to super-hydrate. Starting 24 hours before the fast, drink one cup of water every hour. (Set your PDA to remind you.)
- Throughout the day, consume a lot of beverages. This will not fill you up, since liquids are absorbed quickly. Yet it will ensure that you’ve absorbed enough fluids during the day to start the pre-fast meal well hydrated.
- Don’t drink syrupy beverages, which provide empty calories. Best bet: Pure H2O. Second best: diluted fruit juice.
- Fruit, despite its high fiber content, is worthwhile since it carries a lot of water in a “time-release” form. Throughout the day, you can munch on water-rich foods like melon and grapes.
- At the final meal, drink a few glasses, because many foods need extra water to be digested properly. For dessert, substitute sweets with watermelon or other water-retaining fresh fruit. Finally, drink a cup of warm water to put a smooth finish on your pre-fast prep.
- 6) Mental discipline.
- A large part of successful fasting is in the mind.
- Talking about your hunger will only focus your attention on food and make things more difficult. When you think about food, your body prepares itself metabolically to receive the food, causing the sensation of hunger.
- The key here is to distract your mind from food. Fortunately, Yom Kippur provides plenty of opportunity to be involved in the important task of teshuva – spiritual self-improvement. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you’ll think about food.
- One “kosher” way to “consume” during Yom Kippur is to smell spices. Cinnamon and cloves are a quick pick-me-up if you’re feeling weak, and can actually create a brain sensation of satisfaction.
- 7) Break the fast wisely.
- Even those who have prepared well for the fast will be hungry afterward. Be sure not to eat too quickly at the post-fast meal. Begin with fruit or a glass of juice. These put sugar into the bloodstream and occupy space in the stomach, discouraging you from eating too rapidly.
- Avoid pastries and sugary drinks, whose heavy glucose can shock the digestive system.
- To prevent overeating, eat one portion and then take a break of a half-hour. Otherwise, the break-fast may turn into a weight-gain event (and a stomachache). Since the body protects itself from starvation when you are not eating by slowing down the rate at which it burns food, the calories you take on right after a fast will stay with you a lot longer than those acquired when your metabolism is functioning at full speed.
- Have an easy and meaningful fast!