Monday, September 20, 2010

The "we" in Yom Kippur

Haaretz's Bradley Burston offers up a stunning Yom Kippur confession that is both personal and collective, as befits the holiday. Here is the liturgical part, which recounts a litany of sins in the first person plural:

Asham'nu - This is our confession. It is written that we will seek You out only when we admit that we have done wrong.
Bagadnu - We have betrayed You. We have made gods of stone and tile and asphalt.
Gazalnu - We have stolen, and called it reclaiming.
Dibarnu Dofi - We have learned to say one thing to the world, and something different to one other.

He'evinu V'hirshanu - We have caused others to sin. We have warped our tradition to suit the politics of the moment.
Zadnu - We have allowed our anger to overrule our judgment, our values, our compassion.
Hamasnu - We have been violent, and blamed the wrongdoing of others for our wrongdoing.
Tafalnu Sheker, Ya'atznu Ra, Kizavnu - We have lied to ourselves and others in order to justify our actions. We have given poor advice in order to serve our own ends. We have altered the truth to serve our aims, and spread the lie as if absolutely true.
Latznu - We have made light of the suffering and the humanity and the dreams of those who are unlike us.
Maradnu, Ni'atznu, Sarar'nu, Avinu - In the name of land, we have sanctified rebellion against leaders, our own and those of our allies. In our anger, we have taken vengeance against innocents, and sinned against nature.
Pashanu, Tzarar'nu, Kishinu Oref - We have committed crimes, we have persecuted others. We have been stubborn to an extreme, unbending and insensitive.
Rashanu, Shichatnu, Ti'avnu - We have engaged in wickedness, corruption, abhorrent acts.
Ta'inu, Ti'tanu, Sarnu M'mitzvo'techa - We have gone astray, we have been led astray, we have lost our way. 
The standing name of Burston's regular column is "A Special Place in Hell."  But just as any Yom Kippur congregant can take the collective confession as his or her own, so could any nation own all or  a good part of Burston's adaptation.

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