The sounds of Angels

yom_kippur32On Rosh Hashana as the Shofar is blown, its haunting tones envelope you and somehow places you at the centre of the ancient temple, amidst the throngs of ancient generations with whom you are seemingly mesmerized as if in a Kabbalistic trance.

Somehow you are connected to each and every Jew through space and time.

Just days away, we will once again, stand in silence as we prepare to hear on Yom Kippur the lilting melody of Kol Nidre.

“Kol nidre” means “all vows,” and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d.

How different to the secular New Year where the emphasis is on making “resolutions” in Judaism we ask that we are absolved from those that we make. We make this prayer because we take vows so seriously that we consider ourselves bound even if we make the vows under duress or in times of stress when we are not thinking straight.

How often in the course of our day do we make promises for the sake of peace at home (sholem beit).Not only at home but at work to co workers, bosses, to friends and family. How seriously do we take what we say? On Yom Kippur we ask not only to be released from our vows but we ask to be forgiven for our transgressions, not between us and others, but between us and G-d. To be forgiven by our families and friends we must ask them personally for its not G-d’s responsibility but ours.

The Days in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the time that we can remedy those transgressions made mostly in error but sometimes purposely between us and those we share our lives with.

The final judgement is not made till the closing moments of Yom Kippur. So we have time to reflect and consider and hopefully repair the damage in our lives.

Whether you observe the rituals of these days as a religious duty or simply as a traditional affirmation of your historical roots, it is Judaism’s great ability to provide and embody the opportunity for us to reflect, consider and ultimately repair ourselves and the world around us.

As you stand in shule this year, let the sounds of Kol Nidre permeate your every fibre. Synchronise yourself with the echo of its haunting refrain. As it spills and washes over you like the waters of ocean waves ,allow it to cleanse your soul and take away the languishing doubts and errors of the year past.

May you all have an easy fast and be finally sealed in the book of life for another year.

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One thought on “The sounds of Angels

  1. Another insightful and inspiring essay. In particular, you point out an important distinction between our traditions and others’: that we don’t make resolutions at the start of the year, but ask to be “absolved from those that we make.”

    May we all have a meaningful fast as we enter this new year.

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