Day 1: Confession.

Day 1

ל׳ אב ראש חודש אלול

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַעֲשֶׂהאִם עָבַר אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן, בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָהכְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִפְנֵי הָאל בָּרוּךְ הוּא:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָראִישׁ אוֹאִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ מִכָּלחַטֹּאת הָאָדָם למעול מעל בהואשמה הנפש ההיא וְהִתְוַדּוּ, אֶתחַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ” (במדבר ה,וז), זֶה וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים.  וּוִדּוּי זֶה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה.

כֵּיצַד מִתְוַדֶּהאוֹמֵר אָנָּא החָטָאתִי עָוִיתִי פָּשַׁעְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, וְעָשִׂיתִי כָּךְ וְכָּךְ, וַהֲרֵי נִחַמְתִּי וּבֹשְׁתִּי בְּמַעֲשַׂי, וּלְעוֹלָם אֵינִי חוֹזֵר לְדָבָר זֶה.  זֶה הוּא עִיקָרוֹ שֶׁלַּוִּדּוּי; וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְהִתְוַדּוֹת וּמַאֲרִיךְ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה, הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח.

וְכֵן בַּעֲלֵי חַטָּאוֹת וַאֲשָׁמוֹתבְּעֵת שֶׁמְּבִיאִין קָרְבְּנוֹתֵיהֶם עַל שִׁגְגָתָן אוֹ עַל זְדוֹנָן, אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן בְּקָרְבָּנָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה, וְיִתְוַדּוּ וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָרוְהִתְוַדָּה אֲשֶׁר חָטָא עָלֶיהָ” (ויקרא ה,ה).

וְכֵן כָּל מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין, וּמְחֻיְּבֵי מַלְקוּתאֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶם בְּמִיתָתָם אוֹ בִּלְקִיָּתָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִתְוַדּוּ.  וְכֵן הַחוֹבֵל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמַּזִּיק מְמוֹנוֹאף עַל פִּי שֶׁשִּׁלַּם לוֹ מַה שְׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹאֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ, עַד שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה וְיָשׁוּב מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת כְּזֶה לְעוֹלָם:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָרמִכָּלחַטֹּאת הָאָדָם” (במדבר ה,ו).

Every commandment in the Torah, whether a commandment to perform some act or a commandment to refrain from some act— if a person transgresses one of these commandments, whether unintentionally or intentionally, he must confess before God when he does teshuvah for his sin.  This is as it is written (Numbers 5:6-7): a man or woman who commits one of the sins of humanity, transgressing against God, the soul bears guilt; they must confess the sin they committed.  This is called the “confession of words.”  This confession is a positive commandment.

How should a person confess? He should say, “Please, God, I have sinned, I have wronged, I have rebelled before you, and I have done such-and-such. Behold, I regret and am ashamed of my deeds, and I will never return to that act again.” this is the essence of confession, and anyone who expands on such a confession, going into greater detail, deserves praise.

Thus when people who sinned and are guilty, and brought sacrifices for their unintentional or intentional sins, they did not receive atonement through their offerings until they did teshuvah, and confessed the confession of words, as it is written (Leviticus 5:5) and he will confess regarding that which he sinned.

So too, one who was condemned to be executed by the court, or condemned to receive lashes, would not receive atonement through death or lashes if he did not also do teshuvah and confess. Furthermore, anyone who harms another person physically or financially, even though he may repay what he owes, he will not receive atonement until he confesses and repents of ever doing this again, as it is written (Numbers 5:6) of all the sins of humanity.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah, 5th Edition (2017). Comments welcomed.

5 Comments

  1. Dr. Abramson, on July 14, I ordered two copies of your book, one to be sent
    directly to me and the other to my shul. (See attached receipts) Neither
    has arrived. What is happening?

    Art Berg

    2017-08-22 6:31 GMT-04:00 Henry Abramson :

    > Henry Abramson posted: “Day 1 ל׳ אב ראש חודש אלול Tuesday, August 22, 2017
    > כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה–אִם עָבַר
    > אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן, בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָה–כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה
    > תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִ”
    >

    1. Good morning! I’m sorry to hear they haven’t arrived. Both books were sent out over a week ago (8/11/17). If they don’t come in today’s mail, please let me know and I’ll order two more from the publisher to go straight to you. HMA

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