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Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים), Also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days (or sometimes “the Days of Awe”).
The opening prayer of Yom Kippur is the Kol Nidre (or Kol Nidre) “annulment of vows” recited at sundown of Yom Kippur eve.
The Kol Nidrei service consists of the opening of the Ark and taking out the Torah scrolls, reciting the Kol Nidrei and returning the Torah scrolls to the Ark.
Kol Nidrei, the prayer which ushers in the holy day of Yom Kippur, is perhaps the most famous one in our liturgy. Ironically, it is not really a prayer at all, but rather a statement. A statement that deals with promises, vows and other sorts of verbal commitments commonly made in the course of the year. The Torah places strict demands on keeping one’s word, and not fulfilling a vow is considered a serious misdeed.
Kol Nidre, which means “all vows”, nullifies the binding nature of such promises in advance. One declares all future vows and promises invalid, by declaring that all vows are “absolved, remitted, cancelled, declared null and void, not in force of in effect.”
On Yom Kippur when the essence of the soul is fully revealed, we express our real attitude towards the imperfections which might slip into our behavior, in the coming year. They are thus denied and declared insignificant.