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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rosh Hashanah Thoughts


Perhaps, like me, you struggle with the concept of Kol Nidre. What's this business about annulment of vows?

Admittedly, the ancient words and the plaintive chant speak to us an a deeply spiritual level. Jews who never go to synagogue any other time of the year, flock to the Kol Nidre service on Yom Kippur.

Together as a community, we stand shoulder to shoulder and listen to the haunting sounds of the cello or viola, then the solemn chant of the cantor, and then we read the words:

"All solemn vows, all promises..."

But what do the words mean?

Let me share with you a teaching that I learned from my colleague Reb Nadya Gross, that she learned from her teacher, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

Reb Nadya and Reb Zalman invite us to look at the nederim (the vows) as those commitments we have made unconsciously during our lives. Things we are holding onto that no longer serve us, but rather constrain us. These are the vows from which we seek release.

So for example, an older woman came to see me last month. She was having a terrible time sleeping. She said she woke up in the middle of the night so angry that she just could not sleep. Drawing on Reb Nadya`s teaching I offered, "Perhaps you have made a commitment to yourself not to let go of your anger." "No," she corrected me, "I have made a commitment to be nice to everyone and get along with everyone so I am holding onto my rage."

During this time of introspection leading up to the High Holidays, I invite you to have a look inside yourself and ask:

* What vows and commitments have
* I unconsciously or consciously made
from which it is time to seek release?

On behalf of the Adventure Rabbi Leadership Council and my family, Jeff, Sadie and Ori, I wish you and yours a meaning-filled and inspirational Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

See you on the trail,

Rabbi Jamie Korngold

Adventure Rabbi


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