If one feels death approaching, he is instructed, 'Confess [your sins]!'1Shab. 32a and Tur a.l. This applies only when he feels death approaching. Otherwise, he will think that he is dangerously ill and his heart will be broken — BaḤ and ShaK contra Perisha. Sifre, Num. V, 6: ‘R. Nathan says, “and that soul be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” this (verse) forms the rule for all dead that they require confession of sin (prior to death).’ And they say to him, 'Many confessed [their sins] and died not, and many who have not confessed, died; and as a reward, should you confess, you will live;2T.H., derived from Sem. de R. Ḥiyya(H) I, 2. Cf. supra § 337, n. 2. and he who confesses [his sins] has a portion in the world to come.'3As we find written in the case of Achan, ‘Joshua said unto him, my son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make confession unto Him’ (Josh. VII, 19). ‘And Achan answered Joshua and said, of a truth I have sinned against the Lord, God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done’ (ibid. 20). The confession of Achan made atonement for him, as is written (ibid. 25), ‘The Lord shall trouble thee THIS DAY,’ i.e., only this day, but not in the world to come — Mishna, San. 43b. And if he is unable to make confession with his mouth, he should confess in his heart.2T.H., derived from Sem. de R. Ḥiyya(H) I, 2. Cf. supra § 337, n. 2. If he knows not what to confess, they instruct him, say, 'My death should be an expiation for all my sins.'4Tur — G. Mishna, San. ibid. All these instructions are given to him, not in the presence of illiterate people, nor women, nor minors, lest they cry and break his heart.2T.H., derived from Sem. de R. Ḥiyya(H) I, 2. Cf. supra § 337, n. 2.
The order of confession5Cf. Sifra, Lev. V, 5 and Torah Temimah a.l. n. 56. for a dangerously ill person, is, 'I confess before Thee O Lord, my God and the God of my fathers, that my healing and my death are in your hand. May it be Thy will, to heal me completely, and if I die, my death should be an expiation for all sins, wrongs and rebellious acts,6Yoma 36a. O.Ḥ. § 621, 6. חטא refers to a sin committed unwittingly; עון to one committed wittingly and פשע to a rebellious act. The order here is from the lenient to the grave. Thus M.Abr. ibid. n. 5. which I have committed sinfully, wrongfully and rebelliously before Thee, and grant me a share in Paradise, and favour me with the world to come which is stored away for the Righteous.' And if he desires to prolong as in the confession for the Day of Atonement,7Yoma 86b. he has the right to do so.8Kol Bo — G.