[Avodah] Vidui Maasros

Kenneth Miller kennethgmiller at juno.com
Mon Mar 25 11:44:10 PDT 2013

A listmember recently included this comment in a post:

> ... (and, I confess, I think my knowledge on these things
> is somewhat above average) ...

Clearly, this poster is expressing modesty and humility about their knowledge of these things, and it is because of that modesty that I'm not giving that poster's name here.

But the use of the word "confess" struck me both as odd and also as totally appropriate. It's not at all unusual to use that word in other contexts. And suddenly I had an insight into Vidui Maasros.

A frequently asked question is why it is called "vidui" -- What are we *confessing*? We're not confessing at all! We are stating that we did everything *correctly*! How does one "confess" to doing something *correctly*?

But now I understand. The humility of the listmember I quoted is very well-placed. Because humility is self-deprecation, but it is an honest assessment of one's abilities. And in the context of the post, it was important to point out that the listmember has an above-average level of knowledge of the topic at hand.

Thus, I'd like to suggest that confession/vidui is not only for things that we did wrong. It is for things that we'd rather not talk about. Most of the time, the reason we'd rather not talk about it is because of the shame it involves. But sometimes, we'd rather not talk about it because of the pride it might seem to be. We don't want to be seen as giving ourselves a pat on the back.

And so, perhaps Vidui Maasros is Hashem's way of giving us a "yasher koach". After 3 or 4 years of taking and distributing our trumos and maasros, we announce - with a conflicted mix of pride and embarrassment - "I confess, I did it all correctly."

(This reminds me of a story about when Rav Yechezkel Abramsky was called as an expert witness at a trial in England. To introduce him, the lawyer asked: "Is it true that you are Europe's greatest authority on Jewish law?" He replied, "Yes." To this, the surprised judge asked, "Rabbi, doesn't your religion count humility as a virtue?" Rav Abramsky responded, "Yes, Your Honor, it does. But what can I do? I am under oath!")

Akiva Miller
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