What does Kol Nidrei have to do with Yom Kippur?
The connection of Kol Nidrei to Yom Kippur? The answer is, it’s been blown up to more than there really is.
The idea of Kol Nidrei is based on a gemara in Nedarim. If a person wants to make a tnai, a stipulation, in the beginning of the year that all the nedarim that he’ll make during the upcoming year should be batel, so he should stand up in the beginning of the year and make that tnai. So Kol Nidrei is like a condition – in case we make nedarim, we are now matir those nedarim on condition that subsequently when we remember that, it’ll become batel.
There are halachos that are connected with it and we don’t rely on that l’maaseh but it became after a while an important haschalah, a ceremonial beginning for Yom Kippur.
There are others who say that although it no longer has a real meaning of hatoras nedarim, but it means something else, something that is also very important at the beginning of such an important day. It means like this: A person in his lifetime has certain aspirations, certain desires to do things, and so now as Yom Kippur begins he is mevatel all the unnecessary things of his life. We start Yom Kippur by refocusing our attention to the ikar haikrim, which is avodas Hashem and making something out of ourselves. All the other things in life, we wanted to do this or that, so we say now, “Nedrono loh nidrei…u’shvuosono lo shivu’os; it’s all nothing.” The only thing we have to do now is to listen to the Torah and fulfill what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants from us. All of our other dreams and aspirations we want to be mivateil, we want to make it nothing. That’s a remez that they say is included in Kol Nidrei.
However, the fact that it’s a niggun at the beginning of Yom Kippur makes it very impressive; but it certainly has been blown up more than it deserves to have been.
TAPE # E-77 (October 1996)