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Commentary to Vidui Part Four


We have lied for a purpose or for none . We have made promises that we haven’t kept , including promises to ourselves to work on ourselves . We have not provided full disclosure . We have been negative about the hopes of others . We deceive at times when necessary , and we need forgiveness even for that. We acknowledge that even such “lies” damage our spiritual well being. We have broken good patterns of behavior , even when we have felt God’s hand guiding us . We have made commitments to things which we weren’t sure we could follow through , such as relationships in which we are too frightened to say what we really want to say, or, in which we are not really interested but we are hesitant to tell the other party.

In Melachim we read the story of the hostess of Elisha who was childless. Elisha made her a promise that she would have a son, to which she responded, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not fail/אל תכזב your maidservant. ” She knew that Elisha was holy. She knew he was a navi. Obviously, she didn’t think he was lying. What did she mean when she said, ”אל תכזב“? She suspected that she would have the son for a short time only, to embrace him and thereby experience short lived happiness . The word כזב is used to mean, “Don’t give me false hopes. Don’t give me something that is only temporary.” Every time we give someone false hope we fall under the rubric of כִּזַּֽבְנוּ. Every time we begin a relationship only to end it after a time we fall into כִּזַּֽבְנוּ. Such false starts damage our spiritual development. We will make false starts in this area as well. Eventually we will lose trust in ourselves, especially our Teshuvah.


We have laughed at important things, beginning the process of sin , and bringing destruction to ourselves and the world . We refuse to accept Tochachah . We have laughed at other people . We have used valuable time to joke around . We have forfeited our learning to stupidities . We have laughed at God’s role in the world, challenging the idea of Hashgacha Pratis . By doing all these things we have weakened our connection to Olam Habah and Hashem. We laugh at those who sin, confident that we would not make the same mistake, thereby opening ourselves up to that very sin . We have made light of the possibility that we could become scholars . We doubt our ability to make a difference, thereby weakening our willingness to shoulder important responsibilities. We have made ourselves despised by God by not taking things more seriously. We make unimportant things important, such as insults, losing sight of what is really important. We are unwilling to work harder at Davening, learning and Mitzvot. We spend time with people who are destructive influences . We are willing to sit silently while others mock important people and values .

The Gemara speaks of the sins of Sodom in terms of their ליצנות; Whoever owned one animal had to shepherd the city’s flocks for one day. Whoever had no animals had to shepherd for two days. Whoever used the bridge into the city had to pay a toll. Whoever crossed without the bridge had to pay double. The judges in Sodom were called, Liar, Forger, Dishonest , and Joker. This city, known for its evil, is described as a city of ליצנות. The most devastating destruction of a group of people was the destruction of Sodom, the city of ליצנים. We destroy all that is meaningful and important with all the different forms of ליצנות.


We know that Hashem exists, but we intend at times to rebel against Him or against His Mitzvot . We committed Aveirot not out of passion, but simply because we didn’t believe in that Mitzvah . We are not as careful in observing the Mitzvot D’Rabbanan, such as washing before eating, or making berachot . We participate in arguments that set Jews against each other . We are casual with certain Mitzvot, beginning a process of rebelling against Hashem without realizing what we are doing ; When we say, “It’s almost six hours. We can eat dairy,” or when we are not careful with Hashgachos, or when we are not careful with saying Krias Shma, or when we talk during Davening. We decide what we are allowed to do or not, without asking a Halachic question . We reject what a Talmid Chacham says about a given situation, simply because we don’t like what he says . By acting in these ways we make it more difficult for us to do Teshuvah .


We have angered God . We have despised the fear of God , and Tochachah We have disgraced God . We refuse to keep certain Mitzvot even though we believe in God and that He wants us to keep these commandments . We have misused certain objects for the fulfillment of Mitzvot, such as a stolen Lulav . We compromise when we shouldn’t , such as in a debate with one attacking the Torah. We accomodate Torah to society, rather than vice versa. We have made Torah and Mitzvot appear in a bad light to other people . We joke around even when doing something important such as when we are learning, therby angering God. We act inappropriately at a Shabbat table, thereby doing the same. We do not respect the Mitzvot we are performing, such as the way we make a bracha or daven. We do not remember that the mitzvot can be performed in a way that will last eternally. We believe that we can function without Hashgacha Pratis . We have not worked to be clean of bad traits and sins , thereby preventing what we learn and the Mitzvot we do from penetrating and nourishing our souls .

(see Rashi, Haazinu D”H Teshi)

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