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Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 1:30 pm


Yom Kippur. Everyone has a different association. Some focus on the fasting, others on forgiveness. For some, it’s a matter of spending much longer than they’d rather in the synagogue. 

Personally, I find it to be a profound and extremely meaningful holiday.

How can Yom Kippur be meaningful, you wonder? I’d happily share my thoughts in person, but suffice it to say that if you’d like to appreciate it too, you need to tune in. Radio waves are everywhere, but without a device; a radio that is tuned in, you will be completely oblivious to the music.

On Sunday night we will gather and hear the Kol Nidrei solemnly intoned by the chazzan (cantor). Many people in the room will close their eyes and sway, others will furrow their brow in deep concentration. Between the haunting tune and the reaction of the crowd, you would imagine that this prayer, “Kol Nidrei,” the one that sets the tone for the entire Yom Kippur, would be a truly profound and moving prayer. Yet, when you turn your attention to the English translation you will find that it’s more or less a technical statement that “the vows that I make shall be null.”

Is that the best we’ve got? Is that all we could come up with to begin Yom Kippur??

As always, when we dig a little deeper we find treasures:

The prayer begins with the words “Kol Nidrei V’esorei” - “All vows and prohibitions.” Hebrew is a very precise language, and therefore often a word can have a different connotation depending on the context. “Kol Nidrei V’esorei.” The word “V’esorei” in this context can mean “that which binds me.”

When Yom Kippur begins, we turn to G-d and we say: We are letting go - we are no longer allowing ourselves to be defined by the limitations, habits and choices we’ve lived with in the past.

When we communicate our choice to disengage from the negative bonds that constrain us, we pray to G-d that He, too, not treat us in the limited fashion that may be in store for us; rather we ask that the bonds and limitations be removed and that we truly be blessed with a great New Year!

Yom Kippur is about unleashing ourselves from our limited self view and allowing us to view ourselves from G-d’s perspective, with unlimited potential.

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