Q. A relative is seriously ill and unconscious. The rabbi got us to join in saying the death-bed confession for him, even though I have known cases where the person woke up and only died a long time after. Was the rabbi right?
A. There have been times when I did exactly what your relative’s rabbi did. I explained that it was a form of spiritual insurance against an event which everyone hopes will be long postponed.
There is a further dimension to the problem, when to start saying the viddu’i (confession). The sages say, “Repent one day before you die”, and since we do not know the day we will die it is best to repent and confess every day.