Going Public Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by HaRav Chaim Weg December 7, 2023…
Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by HaRav Chaim Weg
May 20, 2021
They shall confess [v’hisvadu] the sin that they committed…
The Torah here refers to one who steals from a convert who then dies without heirs (see Rashi to 5:6). If this thief denies stealing and then confesses, he brings a korban and compensates the kohanim in place of the deceased convert. The Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvos, Asei 73) writes (based upon the Sifri Zuta) that the word “v’hisvadu” indicates that there is a mitzvah of vidui (confession) for every aveirah that a person does if he wishes to do teshuvah for it.
The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah (1:1) elaborates that one must verbalize the vidui by specifying the sin committed, expressing his shame, and committing never to transgress that aveirah again. In addition, the Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvos cites the Sifri Zuta that the mitzvah of vidui applies even in chutz la’aretz. Perhaps the reason that this statement is necessary is because vidui, as the Rambam writes (koseres to Hilchos Teshuvah), must be before Hashem. Since Hashem’s presence is more immanent in Eretz Yisrael, it is necessary to spell out that vidui applies in chutz la’aretz as well.
R’ Meir Stern explained the reason that vidui must be before Hashem based upon an idea of the Maharal. The Maharal says the word vidui comes from hoda’ah, meaning admission or acknowledgement. When a person gives hoda’ah to Hashem, he acknowledges that Hashem is the source of everything he has, and he is entirely dependent upon Him. When a person recites vidui, he is essentially admitting that he has sinned and has no excuses, so he is entirely at Hashem’s mercy. For such a vidui to achieve the desired effect, it must be delivered when a person is standing before Hashem and can experience those feelings of complete dependence to trigger Hashem’s compassion and forgiveness.