Thursday, September 24, 2020

viduy - siman or sibah

Rambam, first din in Hil Teshuvah:

כל מצות שבתורה בין עשה בין לא תעשה אם עבר אדם על אחת מהן בין בזדון בין בשגגה כשיעשה תשובה וישוב מחטאו חייב להתודות

The Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 364) is medayek that the Rambam defines the mitzvah as saying viduy, not the act of repentance itself.  When one wants to repent -- there is apparently no obligation to do so -- one must recite viduy.  Ramban in P' Nitzavim disagrees and holds that there is a chiyuv to repent and do teshuvah.

Minchas Chinuch asks:

The gemara in Shvuos (12b, see also Zevachim 7b) asks what kaparah for mitzvos aseh is accomplished by the sa'ir ha'mishtaleiach on Y"K:

אי עשה ה"ד אי דלא עבד תשובה זבח רשעים תועבה אי דעבד תשובה כל יומא נמי דתניא עבר על מצות עשה ועשה תשובה לא זז משם עד שמוחלין לו

If the person did not do teshuvah already, then the korban is zevach resha'im and accomplishes nothing.  If the person did do teshuvah, then the person would have already been forgiven and the korban is unnecessary.

According to the Rambam, the gemara should not have a question.  A person might have done teshuvah in his heart, so his korban would not be a zevach resha'im, but he still needs kaparah for the aveira because he has not yet done viduy.  Since the gemara does not offer this as a solution, it proves the Rambam's formulation is incorrect.

Rav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtel (author of Eim haBanim Smeicha) answers that even the Rambam agrees that the mitzvah of teshuvah is what happens in the heart.  Viduy is just a siman that one is truly regretful, that one has sincerely mended one's ways.  (Mashal l'mah ha'davar domeh: RYBS holds that the the aveilus is a kiyum mitzvah b'lev; the nihugei aveilus like not washing, not wearing shoes, etc. are just the means to express the emotion.)

A scenario of teshuvah done in the heart that renders a korban no longer zevach resha'im but does not yet fulfill the mitzvah of teshuvah is impossible.  If the teshuvah was not sincerely meant, then the korban is still zevach resha'im.  If the teshuvah was sincerely meant, then the mitzvah is completely fulfilled.  


  1. "the gemara does not offer this as a solution"

    why would they? Rambam clearly indicates in the second din that Y"K is excepted from his formulation [he declares that the goat to Azazel atones (for positive mitzvos other than circumcision and korban pesach) without any repentance at all]

    Rambam is concentrated on the vidui (mitzvah she'b'gufo) of the individual offender, rather than the surrogate confession of the kohen gadol (vayikra 16:21)

  2. Interesting to note as well, us the rambam counts vidui but not teshuva in the minyan hamitzvos.

  3. as mv'r RYBS might say, maaseh mitzva vs kiyum mitzvah