Previously, we analyzed the words “אל נא תשת עלינו חטאת אשר נואלנו ואשר חטאנו” which are found in selichos and found that, if we are to assume that the selichos usage of the phrase is similar to its original usage (Bamidbar 12:11), then – at least according to R. Samson Raphael Hirsch – the phrase is both an admission of guilt and a plea for forgiveness.
In the Artscroll Edition of the selichos, the commentary on the words “ואשר חטאנו” says:
Though we cannot deny that we have committed sins, we beg God not to reckon them against us, for we have been motivated more by foolishness than by a desire to do evil.
While this is, perhaps, open to interpretation, the wording of the the commentary seems to imply a more limited request for forgiveness than that which we attributed to R. Hirsch. While our interpretation of R. Hirsch has the plea asking for forgiveness categorically, Artscroll – by specifying the rationale by which we ask for forgiveness (i.e. we were motivated foolishly without desiring to do evil) – limits the scope of the request.
The limited request would include, presumably, sins of laziness (skipping tefila), sins of convenience (i.e. partaking of non-kosher food when kosher food is unavailable) and sins of lust. On the other hand, more significant sins – i.e. those of a rebellious nature – would be excluded from this particular request for pardon.