On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read the traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, which has two parts: Ashamnu and Al Chet. Both are written in the first person plural. No matter who surrounds us, we share the responsibility for what we have done wrong and the obligation to do better in the future. Recently, positive versions of the Ashamnu have emerged, helping us appreciate where we have done well in the past year.
These modern interpretations can help you to reflect on where you’ve made mistakes and where you’ve created good in the world. Some people have a custom of beating their fist against their heart as they confess each sin, and of massaging their hearts with an open hand for every appreciation.
We have behaved arrogantly We have adored
We have betrayed ourselves and others We have blessed ourselves and others
We have acted out of contempt We have comforted
We have been dishonest We have directed our energies toward truth
We have erred out of ignorance We have been empathetic
We have forgotten who we are We have forgiven past wrongs
We have gossiped We have grown
We have been hypocritical We have helped even when we weren’t asked
We have been insensitive We have insisted on loving each other
We have justified bad decisions We have been just
We have killed our impulse to do good We have been kind
We have looked the other way We have learned
We have been mean We have been merciful
We have been neglectful We have nursed compassion from scorn
We have acted out of fear instead of love We have been open-minded
We have pushed too much We have spoken positively
We have been quiet when we should have spoken up We have questioned in a healthy way
We have refused to help when we had the ability We have respected our friends and family
We have slandered We have supported strangers
We have taken from others when we had enough for ourselves We have cultivated truth
We have been untrue We have unlearned falsehoods
We have behaved violently We have validated each others’ feelings
We have withheld what could have been given freely We have been willing to change
We have been xenophobic We have experienced pure joy
We have yielded to our worst impulses We have yearned for a better future
We have zealously protected evil-doers We have zestily given our best
Positive Vidui adapted from Rabbi Avi Weiss: https://opensiddur.org/prayers/lunisolar/high-holy-days/life-affirming-vidui-by-rabbi-avi-weiss/
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