If you vowed to do something this year and now realize that you cannot live up to your word; this is Kol Nidre.
There are probably more Jews in synagogue for Kol Nidre than at any other time during the year. The question is, why? What is it about Kol Nidre that keeps the crowds coming back?
Could it possibly be that consciously or unconsciously every Jew senses that Kol Nidre touches the most sensitive nerve of their humanity? That without Kol Nidre you can’t have a Yom Kippur? That without Kol Nidre you can’t have a life.
In Kol Nidre we make this statement: I realize that if I have made any verbal commitments, if I gave my word on anything, then without recourse to some higher authority there is no backing out. My word is my word—period. My word locks into place a reality that I can no longer undo. That reality, that word, binds me. Imagine a world where contracts didn’t have to be signed. Where a person’s word was “as good as gold” and a handshake was a done deal. Imagine if people actually lived with that kind of trust in one another. Imagine the integrity.
Beyond the elimination of mountains of paperwork and half the legal profession, it would be a different world. There is no other way to describe it. An entirely different world.
Kol Nidre is a time when we take a searing look inside. We ask ourselves, who can count on my word? Can my children, or my spouse, my friends, my boss? Can God? Can I! Can I count on my own word; Do I trust myself?
Without credibility we have nothing. With it we have everything. Thus, Kol Nidre.
This article is an excerpt from “Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Survival Kit”. This book masterfully blends wisdom, humor and down-to-earth spirituality. It’s like having a knowledgeable friend sitting right next to you in the synagogue.