The following prayer contains seven words of atonement that are read aloud during the traditional Lit. Confession. A litany of one's sins that is traditionally recited on Yom Kippur, prior to one’s wedding, and on one's deathbed. prayer. These seven words are meant to signify a part-way confession, for souls who have recently or are currently on the road to revealing a truth about their life, thereby changing the conversation with their inmost self and with G-d. By using the Jewish number associated with perfection and falling short of the twenty-eight traditional words of atonement in this prayer, confessants are invited to begin the journey of healing, re-creation, and redemption that characterize the High Holidays.
Ashamnu is the blindness of a secret.
It says to G-d, “I did not know.”
And to ourself, “I reveal what is hidden and buried deep.”
Bagadnu is the treachery of concealment.
It says to G-d, “I have been masked in the dark”
And to ourself, “I will look upon myself anew and not waver.”
Gazalnu is the ransom paid for silence.
It says to G-d, “I was a prisoner undone by my own chains.”
And to ourself, “I am no longer willing to put a price on my life.”
Dibarnu Dofi is the tongue that lashes out at our own honesty.
It says to G-d, “I was not present to the spirit you put in me.”
And to ourself, “I am done making excuses and assailing my own soul.”
He’evinu is the distortion of mercy by sin.
It says to G-d, “I acknowledge that my bending to injustice was neither a blessing nor benevolence.”
And to ourself, “I hereby redraw the boundary of my world, so that I am justly at the center.”
V’hirshanu is the wrong we have done others as we have wronged ourself.
It says to G-d, “My loss of self resulted in the loss of love and relationship”
And to ourself, “As I regain my sense of self, so may I regain my alignment with all that I love in myself and community.”
Zadnu is the presumption of guilt.
It says to both G-d and ourself: “I renounce self-judgment and am ready to rejoin my People exactly as I am, and by Your Peace restore myself and all of creation.”