Roses and Thorns 

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read the traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, which has two parts: Ashamnu and Al Chet. Both are written in the first person plural. No matter who surrounds us, we share the responsibility for what we have done wrong and the obligation to do better in the future. Recently, positive versions of the Ashamnu have emerged, helping us appreciate where we have done well in the past year. 

Use these modern interpretations to reflect on where you’ve made mistakes and where you’ve created good in the world. Some people have a custom of beating their fist against their heart as they confess each sin and of massaging their hearts with an open hand for every gratitude. 


Confess/Thorns                        Appreciate/Roses           

We have behaved arrogantly                    We have adored

We have betrayed ourselves and others            We have blessed ourselves and others  

We have acted out of contempt                We have comforted 

We have been dishonest                    We have directed our energies toward truth

We have erred out of ignorance                 We have been empathetic 

We have forgotten who we are                We have forgiven past wrongs 

We have gossiped                        We have grown 

We have been hypocritical                    We have helped even when we weren’t asked 

We have been insensitive                      We have insisted on loving each other 

We have justified bad decisions                We have been just 

We have killed our impulse to do good            We have been kind 

We have looked the other way                We have learned 

We have been mean                        We have been merciful    

We have been neglectful                    We have nursed compassion from scorn

We have acted out of fear instead of love             We have been open-minded 

We have pushed too much                    We have spoken positively 

We have been quiet when we should have spoken up    We have questioned in a healthy way 

We have refused to help when we had the ability         We have respected our friends and family

We have slandered                        We have supported strangers 

We have taken from others when we had enough for ourselves     We have cultivated truth

We have been untrue                        We have unlearned falsehoods 

We have behaved violently                     We have validated each others’ feelings

We have withheld what could have been given freely    We have been willing to change 

We have been xenophobic                     We have experienced pure joy 

We have yielded to our worst impulses             We have yearned for a better future

We have zealously protected evil-doers             We have zestily given our best  

Positive Vidui adapted from Rabbi Avi Weiss: 

Type of Custom: Prayers for Forgiveness, High Holiday

Holiday/Event: High Holidays