Yom Kippur Reflections

September 21, 2023

On Yom Kippur we strive to confess before God all of our wrongdoings, taking true stock of what we have done wrong and where we have failed. The repeated recitation of the אשמנו prayer, with its alef-bet acrostic, gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own personal sins and shortcomings, from A to Z, and to perhaps even articulate them alongside the standard text.

But we have done more this last year than failed and fallen short. We have also succeeded; we have done good every day in ways big and small; we may have even done some extraordinary things.  That needs to be recognized as well.

We are forgiven on Yom Kippur for a reason. It is to allow us to start fresh. To free us from the sins that weigh us down, keeping us looking backwards, robbing our belief in ourselves and preventing us from achieving our true potential. That process begins with seeing the good in ourselves, giving voice to that, owning it and believing in it.

For this we need a different type of viduy. A positive viduy. An articulation of what we have done right, a viduy of what we are proud of.

This is the viduy of ma’aser, the viduy recited when a person fulfils the mitzvah of giving tithes and declares: “I have done all that you have commanded me!” (Deut. 26:14). As Rav Kook so powerfully writes (Ein Ayah on Mishnah Ma’aser Sheini 5:10):

נתנה לנו הדרך להתעוררות שצריך האדם שישמח גם כן לפעמים בביטוי שפתיים על מעשה הטוב אשר עשה וכפי המדה הראויה לחזק לבבו בעבודה,

The Torah has given us a path of awakening: a person needs to also rejoice themselves sometimes by articulating the good deeds that they have done, in the appropriate measure, in order to strengthen their heart in [Divine] service.

Rav Avi Weiss, founder of YCT, has been teaching all of us this lesson for many years. Over 10 years ago, he composed the following ahavnu viduy to be said alongside the ashamnu one. We encourage each of you to recite this viduy on Yom Kippur as well and to use it as an opportunity to reflect on and to articulate to ourselves all that we are proud of over this last year. On the day that God has promised to forgive us for our sins, we pray that we can learn to forgive ourselves, to own the good within us, and to devote this coming year to bringing that good out into the world.

— Rabbi Dov Linzer

Ahavnu Viduy

Composed by Rabbi Avi Weiss

Download printable version here >

We have loved,
We have blessed,
We have grown,
We have spoken positively.

We have raised up others,
We have protected,
We have acted enthusiastically,
We have shown empathy,
We have cultivated truth.

We have given good advice,
We have shown respect,
We have learned,
We have forgiven,
We have comforted,
We have been creative,
We have stirred,
We have acted,
We have been just,
We have longed for the Land [of Israel].

We have been compassionate,
We have given full effort,
We have supported,
We have contributed,
We have repaired.

דִּבַּרְנוּ יֹפִי

טִפַּחְנוּ אֱמֶת

יָעַצְנוּ טוֹב,
קִוִּינוּ לָאָרֶץ


Rabbi Dov Linzer Photograph of Rabbi Dov Linzer showing the top half of him. He is a middle aged man with beige skin and his body is slightly angled away from the camera. He has a wide slightly open mouthed smile and is clean shaven. He has short brown hair and is wearing a black keepah. He has circular wire-rimmed glasses and is wearing a navy blue suit with a white button down shirt and a sky blue tie with royal blue hollowed out triangle patterns. The background is blurry and shows a white wall with a sefer of gemarah or mishnah directly behind him.Rosh Hashanah Greetings from Rabbi Dov Linzer
Poster for YCT's Sukkot Torah Reader. Image with a mostly white background with YCT's dandelion pattern in faded purplish grey on the bottom. The pattern is 13 circles of varying size with a line of the same color attached to each of the two middle circles on the bottom. In the middle of the poster in large indigo block letters it says "YCT Sukkot" followed by "Torah Reader" below. Underneath, seperated into two rows, it says "September 2023" and "Tishrei 5784". On the top of the poster are 8 etrogs. 5 are at the top and are cut-off by the top of the poster. The 3 below them are whole with the left one mostly horizontal and the other two angled towards each other forming an angle. All the etrogs are a vibrant yellow, the two on the bottom right have small green stems and the other etrogs are shining with reflected light. On the bottom right corner is the YCT logo. The left half of the logo is a circular radius of 54 circles moving out from the center. 27of the circles are radiating outward directly from the middle by attached lines (one per circle). All of the circles in the radius vary in size from significantly smaller to slightly larger then the average circle in the image. The center of the symbol and where the circles are radiating out from is a empty space in the shape of an implied circle (to match the shape of the radius but much smaller). The circles and lines fade in color from indigo blue on the top left, they then become a dark bluish-purple followed by a brighter indigo purple on the middle right and then a light blue at the upper right. The light blue section is disconnected and further towards the top right corner away from the rest of the image. There are 3 circles with attached lines in that corner and the two closest to the corner have there lines overlapping. The rest of the radius is made up of a repeating pattern of circles with 3 circles with attached lines followed by a larger line connected to a circle touching the edge of the radius. This pattern repeats 5 times and ends with the disconnected section that is then followed by one short line attached to a circle and one long one. On the right half of the logo, in indigo blue bubble letters are the letters "YCT". Below YCT are light blue block letters that says "VIBRANT TORAH" and below that in the same color and font is "LEADERSHIP". Underneath the light blue letters are the words "ישיבת חובבי תורה" in blue indigo block letters.Sukkot 5784 Torah Reader