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. 

Confess/Thorns                                               Appreciate/Roses           

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/

Booklet Section: Seeking Forgiveness