Monday, August 28, 2006

Kol Nidre

Christopher Jon Bjerknes

During the evening service for Yom Kippur, Jews recite the following dispensation of vows three times. It is called the Kol Nidre, and is based on the Talmud in the book of Nedarim folio 23b:

"All vows, obligations, oaths or anathemas, pledges of all names, which we have vowed, sworn, devoted, or bound ourselves to, from this day of atonement, until the next day of atonement (whose arrival we hope for in happiness) we repent, aforehand, of them all, they shall all be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, void and made of no effect; they shall not be binding, nor have any power; the vows shall not be reckoned vows, the obligations shall not be obligatory, nor the oaths considered as oaths."

Many Jews believe that reciting the Kol Nidre on the Day of Atonement entitles them to lie, violate contracts, etc. Some Rabbis will swear that the Kol Nidre refers only to personal vows made to ones self, but if these selfsame Rabbis have recited the Kol Nidre, of what value is their oath?