Litany on Yom KIppur

From a different tradition, so powerful and moving, posted by the poet Charles Bernstein:

As we near the close of our High Holy Day services for
5776, in these last hours of the Day of Atonement, Yom
Kippur, let us say the litanies of confession, oshamnu:

We are filled with guilt, we have been in
bad faith, we have transgressed
against others and we have mouthed
lies. We have tolerated evil and prodded
our hands to violence; we have been
presumptuous, broken trusts, caused hatred
and resentment, framed falsehood;
We have counseled in self-interest, we have
failed in promise, we have scoffed
the powerless, minded the powerful, and blasphemed
against hope; we have rebelled too
little against injustice, we have been
selfish and arrogant, we have oppressed;
We have done badly, we have
corrupted ourselves and committed abominations;
we have gone astray and have led astray;

We have turned aside from our collective
good and it has availed us not at all.

But you are right in
all that has become us,
you have acted truthfully
but we have wrought
despair. What shall we say
before you, who dwell
within, and what shall we
recount to you, who abide
in the heavenly and know
all things, hidden and
not hidden?

May it be our will to forgive and be
forgiven, may we grant, and be granted,
remission for all our transgressions.


This is the 18th section of “A Person Is Not an Entity Symbolic but the Divine Incarnate” from The Sophist (1987). (The Hebrew year has been updated.) The poem is a revisioning (and reversing) of the Yom Kippur prayer of confession (also spelled “Ashamnu”).
In Hebrew, each of the 24 confessions begins with a different letter of the alphabet (with the last letter repeated).

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