Kol Nidre

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The Kol Nidre (Aramaic: “All Vows”), in Judaism, is a prayer sung in Jewish synagogues at the beginning of the service on the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The name, derived from the opening words, also designates the melody to which the prayer is traditionally chanted.

Controversially, it includes the statement "All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called konam, konas, or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths."[1]

Jewish sources state that this refers only to matters between God and man.[1]

However, some historians have argued that it has been used to annual oaths forcibly extracted during persecutions, and even that this was its original purpose. During the medieval period, the Kol Nidre was used to question the trustworthiness of all oaths taken by Jews in Christian courts.[2] See also Oath More Judaico.

One objection to the Kol Nidre has been that ignorant Jews could misinterpret the prayer as a license for deceit. This may have contributed to many congregations removing or replacing it. Orthodox and Conservative congregations still recite the words.[1]

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