“And they shall confess their sins that they have committed!” (Bamidbar 5:6)
It is a positive commandment that we have been commanded to confess before Hashem when we regret them, all the sins that we have committed. The method of confession is to say at the time of repentance, “Please Hashem, I have sinned, rebelled and committed crimes in the following ways!”. He should mention the exact sin and ask for atonement for it. He should extend the confession as long as he can, according to his speech. Chazal said that even the sins for which one is obligated to bring an offering, need a confession with the offering, and about this the verse says “A man or woman who does one of the sins of a person to commit an iniquity against Hashem; that soul shall be guilty, and they shall confess their sins that they did!”. Although this verse was said at the time of offering the offering, Chazal explained that even at a time when there are no offerings and Klal Yisrael are in exile, there is still a commandment to confess, mas it says “And they shall confess their sins and the sins of their fathers!”, which refers to the sins of their fathers when they sinned and were driven out of the land. Doniel said outside the holy land, “To you, Hashem, is the righteousness, and to us is the embarrassment like this day!”.
Amongst the roots of this commandment is that with the oral confession of the sin the thoughts and opinions of the sinner are revealed, that he really believes that all is revealed and known to Hashem. By mentioning the sin and regretting it he will also think twice before committing it again, and because of this he will be accepted by his Creator. Hashem, who is only good, guided us on this path to give them merit.
Amongst the laws of this commandment is that which Chazal said that repentance is that the sinner must leave the sin and remove it completely from his thoughts and heart, and decide never to do it again, as it says “A wicked man should abandon his way, and an empty man his thoughts!”. After this he should confess which refers to expressing out loud his thoughts of repentance. Even though in the days of the holt temple there were different forms of repentance with different types of offerings, now that we have no temple or offerings, we have only repentance which atones for all sins. Even if one was wicked all one’s life and did complete repentance at the end, none of his wickedness is mentioned to him, as it says “And the wickedness of the wicked man will not make him stumble on the day that he repents of his wickedness!”. All of this refers to sins between man and G-d. Sins between man and his fellow like wounding, stealing etc., need the payment of the loss and the forgiveness of the friend as well as repentance in front of Hashem.
This commandment applies in all places and at all times, both to men and to women. One who transgresses this and does not confess his sins on the Day of Atonement, has transgressed this commandment. How terrible is it for a person to die without confession and keep his sins.