From the Chasidic Rebbes
"For the sin that we committed before you through our evil inclination."
[Yom Kippur Confessional]
We confess fifty-three different "For the sin that we committed",
but only with one of them do we mention the evil inclination. That is
because most sins are done through our "good" inclination; that
is, we sin and see it as good. Only rarely does a person feel that he
has done something wrong, and recognize his evil side.
Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz
A Jew once came to the saintly Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin and cried,
"Rebbe! I am a very great sinner and I want to repent."
"So why don't you repent?" the Rabbi asked him.
"I don't know how," he replied.
"Where did you learn how to sin?" the Rabbi asked.
"First I sinned, and only afterward did I learn that it was a sin," he
"In that case, you already know how to proceed," the Rabbi said. "Just
repent. Afterwards you'll see that you did it properly!"
From the Kabbalists
The ten days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement allude to
the Ten Emanations, for on the Day of Atonement He is exalted by them
- "The Eternal of hosts is exalted through justice," as is known in tradition.
Furthermore there is also a sign about this in the heavens, for this month
of Tishrei has as its constellation the zodiac sign of the Balance, thus
signifying that in this month, "A just balance and scales are set by the
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides')
From the Chabad Masters
"You put forth Your hand to sinners, while
Your right hand You stretch out to repenters." [Yom Kippur Neilah
Repetition - right after Kedushah]
The idea of "a hand to sinners" can also be understood
to refer to the potential and aid made available to sinners to allow them to fulfill
their choice to sin, where "a hand" refers to a minimal allowance. The
stronger expression, "Your right hand You stretch out," denotes the
actual encouragement and help given affectionately to those who sincerely want
to return from their sinning ways but are finding the change difficult.
Levi Yitzchak Schneerson
Some Laws and Customs
"For the sin we have sinned before
You." (Yom Kippur prayers)
When confessing our sins it is customary to beat the chest just over
the heart as a symbol of repentance as each transgression is enumerated.
Yet logically the opposite would seem to make more sense: Should not the
heart strike out at the hand that actually committed the sin? Our intention,
however, is the source of all transgression -- the lusts and desires of
the heart that lead to sin.
(Hegyonot Shel Ami)
Another explanation for this is the rule which states that in a case
of capital punishment, the condemning witness casts the first stone. Since
we are accusing our hearts of being responsible for our sins, we strike
our hearts heavily.
'REPENTANCE, PRAYER and CHARITY avert the
severity of the decree."
(From the repetition of the Yom Kippur
"Out with the old year and its curses!
In with the new year and its blessings!"
Tova tikateiv v'tihateim
MAY YOU BE INSCRIBED AND SEALED
FOR A GOOD AND SWEET YEAR
OF HAPPINESS AND GROWTH!
Last year's Yom Kippur page