And finally, viduy, verbally expressing all of the above, making these abstract ideas concrete. Even though Chazal formulated a fixed list to say, it is recommended that you focus on the list you compiled before Yom Kippur, saying it verbally at least one time (even in English), after the standard version of viduy. And of course one should verbally express the kabalah at the same time. (Make sure to say “bli neder,” so that you will not be creating a vow!)
Okay, I know what you are thinking — easier said than done! We all know how much we love ourselves and have much difficulty we have seeing anything bad in our actions. So how do we even start?
This is where Shabbos comes in. The Tzlach tells us, that on Shabbos it is easier to gain true repentance. Rav Reuven Cohen (Rosh Kollel Zichron Yosef, Kiryat Sefer) explains this with a mishna in Demai (4:1), which states that normally an “am ha’aretz” is not believed when he says that maaser has been taken on his fruits. However, on Shabbos he is believed because the fear of Shabbos is upon him. The reason is that on Shabbos we are granted an extra neshama — a neshama yeseirah, which causes us to become much closer to Hashem. This instills a subconscious fear of Hashem, even in the ignoramus, which causes him to speak the truth.
Now we understand why it is much easier to do teshuvah on Shabbos, because the first step in teshuvah is to really be honest with ourselves. On this day, when we feel Hashem’s presence in a stronger way, it is much harder to tell ourselves with a straight face that we are “just fine.” Our neshama yeseirah helps us to realize what needs to be fixed and requires atonement.
But it goes even further. As mentioned above, true remorse is the key to full repentance. During the week, when we are involved in material matters it is hard for us to really feel bad about what we have done wrong. On Shabbos, however, we are involved in spiritual pursuits and thus see, in a clearer way, the purpose of the world and what we are supposed to be accomplishing. The realization of how far we are from fulfilling our task strikes a chord in our hearts and we truly regret our actions.
If we really want to get the full benefit of this special power of Shabbos, we must remember on Yom Kippur that it is also Shabbos. Each time we mention Shabbos during davening, if we think that because it is Shabbos, we are now so close to Hashem, we will come even closer. This in itself is what we are trying to accomplish with teshuvah — to come back to Hashem where we truly belong. May we merit, through Shabbos and the extreme holiness of Yom Kippur, to truly repent and receive a complete atonement!
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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