Kol Nidrei All our vows
The holyday that we call Yom Kippur is begins Tuesday night. Yom kippur is usually translated as Day of Atonement. But it is so much more than the words imply. The depth of meaning of this day is found in the most misunderstood prayer in Judaism. That prayer is known as “Kol Nidrei.” The prayer asks that G makes null and void our vows. It is not about the nullification of our past vows. Rather it speaks to our future vows, vows that we make for the coming year. Anti-Semites have used this prayer as a proof that Jews are untrustworthy. Of course that is nonsense, misinterpretation and misrepresentation.
One of the best expressions of the feelings that come to the fore during the High and Holy days was written by Ronin Davis, my son at http://roninad.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/and-so-we-enter-the-year-5773/ . In his poignant piece he writes of the struggles that he has recognized as a thoughtful, spiritual Jew seeking to grow in his process of ‘Jewing.’
What he writes points to the meaning of that most misunderstood prayer, Kol Nidrei. And Kol Nidrei speaks to the meaning of these High and Holy Days.
Kol Nidrei speaks to vows.
Kol Nidrei does not speak to the vows that are made between people. If I promise to do something for you, this prayer does not let me ‘off the hook.’ Vows made between earthlings should be fulfilled and if they aren’t that is something that the parties need to address.
Kol Nidrei does speak to vows between the human and G, and only if an honest and serious attempt has been made to live up to the promises.
In essence, Kol Nidrei says that we are fallible human beings. We struggle and strive and succeed and fail. Kol Nidrei is reaching out to better ourselves with the fore-knowledge that our reach exceeds our grasp.
Kol Nidrei defines success as “Fall down three times, get up four!”
Kol Nidrei says that it is ok to reach for the stars.