• Gabbai

Yom Kippur – Do You Forgive Me?

There is a sense of awe we are hit with upon entering the shul for Kol Nidrei. It does not emanate from white vestments which dress and adorn the shul in a display of purity, and it is also likely not a result of our near-comatose state, having just engorged ourselves with food in the hopes that hunger pangs will not plague us before morning. No, the sense of awe and fear comes from the sight of the thick machzor that we have to get through over the course of the day. However, we should not fear it too much. 50% of the machzor is the traslation, 30% is intros, notes and additions, and we will likely skip another 20%. Do the math and you won’t have much to fear.

There is a beautiful prayer called tefilla zaka – a pure prayer – which is found in many machzorim before the kol nidrei prayer. The prayer was composed in the nineteenth century by the Chaye Adam, Rabbi Avraham Danzik from Lithuania. It includes a detailed confession as well as an undertaking of the five afflictions of Yom Kippur. It concludes with a declaration that we forgive others for offenses against ourselves.

The idea of confession, central as it may be to other faiths, is a precondition to teshuva, the return to our Jewish faith.

It is only human to occasionally offend and wrong others. On Kol Nidrei night we invite the sinners to pray with us. There are, however, no sinners among us. There are only humans, people who have at times made mistakes. You show me a saint and I’ll show you a sinner. We are all only human.

This humanity is also our greatness. We are capable of being selfless, of thinking about someone other than ourselves. We are capable of saying sorry. There is a custom of pre-Yom Kippur apologies. In Jewish circles you find people frantically apologizing to others and seekin