Confessions II: Dibarnu Dofi
We have used our mouths we’ve used for speaking truth for speaking evil. Dofi includes gossip and insults. When we say one thing and mean another, or we find what is negative to say, rather than the positive, we are pushing God away. “Dofi” can also understood as a contraction of the words du phi, having two mouths, or emptiness. Other examples: One who learns Torah with a cynical attitude, or not learning Torah well enough to know when or how to apply it.
In the book of Kings (4:1-37)we find a story about Elisha where he promises a woman that she will have a child. She does, but the child soon dies. The woman comes to Elisha screaming, “you gave me this child only to have him die?!” Elisha had a student named Gehazi. He is great in Torah and literally served Elisha at his feet. He sees the woman broken, charging his teacher. Gehazi grabs her by her breasts (4:27) and pushes her away. Looking at the text we see that his intentions weren’t all that respectable. The word the verse uses is “La’hadfa.” How can a sit at the feet of his rebbe and with such sensitive midot and can do something like this? He had not incorporated what he had learnt.
DG: All of the elements of the Viddui we have covered up to now, as well as those that we will do, seem almost impossible to accomplish on a daily basis. I think it would be much better to look at them as ideals to aspire to. I don’t think a person should try to take on all of these elements in the first instance, or else he will fall prey to the sin of boged, of setting his sights too high.
RSW: The Viddui is an exercise in imagining yourself as how you could be as a totally aware person. The details of this are indeed overwhelming. But the reason why this is overwhelming to us is because we have chosen to live at a lower standard. But there is a higher level. The confession isn’t the details, the confession is “look at what I could be,” and “look at what I am.” Yes, it could be devastating, but the idea is not to beat ourselves up. If we picture ourselves for whom all these elements would be realities, then we have accomplished the greatest Viddui. That’s why God forgives you.