Vows That Divide

Rabbi Avi Killip

Why Does Kol Nidrei Begin Yom Kippur?

Annulling our vows is a strange way to start a communal day of atonement. And yet, we come together in the moments before Yom Kippur to recite Kol Nidrei. Promising not to keep our word seems like a particularly lousy way to enter into a day of judgement. Wouldn’t we prefer to be a people who honors our vows? Using sources from the Talmud and Mishnah, we will investigate why we still begin Yom Kippur with Kol Nidrei.