Insight into Viduy

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    The below notes are based on an audio shiur from Rabbi Kirzner ztz”l – “Confession; leaving our hideouts”

    What is the purpose of confession? I know what I did! Hashem knows what I have done! Why is verbalization of what I have done wrong such a critical requirement in the process of T’shuva? One simple understanding is that Viduy helps a person to clearly express his mistakes, to accept the wrongdoing as fact, in order to strengthen ones commitment for change.

    But there is another deeper understanding of Viduy. The Rambam in discussing halachos of T’shuva asks how does one know if he has successfully undergone the process of T’shuva? The Rambam says one ideal way is if a person undergoes the same situation and an opportunity shows up to transgress and the person overcomes and does not transgress. But the question is what happens if the test does not occur? Does the person need to live through the same temptation and overcome it in reality or is it enough that he has reached a level of T’shuva that if such situation would occur he would not transgress? The Rambam answers that as long as Hashem can say testimony that a person has built up the strength to resist the temptation this is sufficient and you do not need to relive it. The Rabeinu Yona says something similar. When a person develops an awe of Hashem that can contain his negative inclination it is sufficient for T’shuva. And Rabeinu Yona says that this is considered repentance of the highest level.

    This concept of Hashem saying testimony as to the person’s spiritual ability is uniquely reserved to T’shuva. Because the Gemora says that if a person resists to do an aveyra he gets a mitzva of Yiras Shomayim. But the Gemora says that this is only when a person is actively resisting. But if he is not actively resisting you do not get a mitzva. We do not say that should a situation arise and I would not transgress it is sufficient to earn the mitzva of Yiras Shomayim. Similarly in the beginning of the book of Iyuv we see that Hashem is testifying as to the deepest spiritual status of Job but nonetheless the prosecuting angel says “stretch out your hand and hurt him in his flesh and see if he will curse you”. However, as we said above, when it comes to the mitzva of T’shuva the occurrence of the actual situation is not a requirement. Why is T’shuva different?

    This is the tremendous gift of Yom Kippur. Even if have blown the past 365 days I can in one short day build myself up and return completely. A person should not be discouraged by saying “how much can I pack in one day? I can’t possibly have all the temptations of the year sitting in shul the whole day so I may as well give up. I have a whole year ahead of me to fail.” This attitude is only true to the extent if the person did not build his spiritual potential then the person has not reached a level of true change. But if the person has absorbed the holiness of the day and built himself up then the return is complete. The person should never knock his ability to grow and return even in shoa achas.

    The source for this idea is in Hashem’s response to Moshe after he has prayed with the Thirteen Attributes. “…hiney onochiy koreis bris imcho neged kol hoamin e’ese niflo’os…”. The Ramban asks what bris is being referred to? What niflo’os are being referred to? And the Ramban answers the Bris is that “I will be with you in the hidden and deep”. Hashem has defined the relationship with Klal Yisroel through T’shuva. A Bris which puts aside the part of Midas Hadin which requires the proof through action.


    if summarized, more people will benefit.


    Thank you so much for posting that, ilyae!

    I will be sure to revisit and reread when I have more time to absorb…

    Babbler, that’s a very tall order! I can’t imagine how Rav Kirzner’s words can be summarized. But I can assure you it’s very worthwhile to take the time to read through it.

    I wonder if the mods would allow ilyae to post a link (if there is one) where the shiur can be heard.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Thank you CH!

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