Today is Yom Kippur. Also known as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” it is he holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. And marks the end of a period of repentance known as “the Days of Awe,” ten days spent seeking absolution from any and all peoples that one has wronged. Fasting and extensive prayer mark this holy day, as the observer works through all his debts, errors and shortcomings from the prior year and brings them to God.
The prayers of Yom Kippur begin with the Kol Nidre. Among the most beautiful and haunting observations in all of religion, the Kol Nidre is a binding contract with God, a mediation on the release of all that we have taken upon ourselves, all that we have fallen short.
All vows, and prohibitions, and oaths, and consecrations, and konams and konasi and any synonymous terms, that we may vow, or swear, or consecrate, or prohibit upon ourselves, from the previous Day of Atonement until this Day of Atonement and from this Day of Atonement until the Day of Atonement that will come for our benefit. Regarding all of them, we repudiate them. All of them are undone, abandoned, cancelled, null and void, not in force, and not in effect. Our vows are no longer vows, and our prohibitions are no longer prohibitions, and our oaths are no longer oaths.