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Kol Nidre

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

As we get ready to begin the holiest and most intense of all days, its only fitting that we go over and remind ourselves of the Tefillot that we say on this day. I always think its so fascinating that of all things, we begin this day with 'Kol Nidrei'- annulling all of our vows. Not Teshuva, not crowning Hashem as King, no mention of Kedusha.

Furthermore, a little over a a week ago, we began Rosh HaShana with the custom of Hatarat Nedarim, of annulling our vows in front of a Beit Din. So why do we do it again, a week later? And what is the significance of doing it, if its not in front of a Beit Din, as we did on Erev Rosh HaShana? Granted we say it at a minyan, but a Beit Din is when we designate 3 specific people, which is not the case at Kol Nidrei Minyan.

Rav Adin Steinsaltz therefore suggests an emotional component to the Kol Nidrei Tefillah, beyond the technical statement annulling of vows. Rav Steinsaltz understands this annulment, this statement of all of the things that we are 'cancelling' to mean the following: During the year, we place yourself in certain categories, we see ourselves a certain way. For exampled, 'I am an intellectual', Ii am not an intellectual' 'Iím not spiritual'. By doing so we put our emotions in categories. Yet we also put our actions in categories, such as 'thatís not my thing' 'Iím not that type that goes to shiurim' 'Iím not the kind of person who can jut open a sefer'. When we do things like that, when we classify ourselves to that much of an extent, we are thereby also limiting ourselves. Limiting what we allow ourselves to be exposed to, limiting our abilities, limiting our experiences, because we have put ourselves, classified ourselves into a specific box. So maybe, thatís the purpose of Kol Nidrei. Cancelling out the emotional and spiritual prohibitions, oaths and therefore limitations, enable us to begin fresh, anew and reenergized for another year of Avodat Hashem.

Yom Kippur reminds us and more so challenges us to let go of the categories we place ourselves in, and become open-minded and openhearted to new experiences, and to enhance our religious lives with newfound passion.

An interesting aspect of this Tefillah is that it ends with the bracha of Shehechiyanu. One would think that Shehechiyanu would be a bracha that we would make right away, as soon as the time comes to begin Yom Kippur davening. If Kol Nidrei is the chosen Tefillah for the opening of Yom Kippur, why isnít it proceeded with the Shehechiyanu bracha?

We can offer an answer here based on this interpretation. Now that weíve let go of all of the past years preconceived notions of ourselves, we can make a shehechiyanu, because we truly are in a new state of mind, and state of heart. One that is more open and more ready and willing to take our religious aspirations and pursuits to the next level.




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