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.

Ashamnuwe 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

Bagadnuwe 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

Gazalnuwe 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 Dofiwe 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’evinuwe 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’hirshanuwe 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?

Zadnuwe 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

Chamasnuwe 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 Shekerwe 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 Rawe 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

Kizavnuwe 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

Latznuwe 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’atznuwe 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

Sararnuwe 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

Avinuwe 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

Pashanuwe 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

Tzararnuwe 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 Orefwe 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

Shichasnuwe have corrupted our characters

  • We have been arrogant at times
  • We have let our idealism slip away
  • We have not self-analysed

Ti’avnuwe 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’inuwe 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

TitanuYou 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