Kol Nidre Sermon from Rabbi Goldberg

Gamar Tov.

In these past few weeks I have greatly enjoyed learning stories about the congregation in general and about so many of you in particular. I am grateful to have shared my story with you on Rosh Hashanah.

Speaking of stories, here is one that I love:

A religious man who had reached the age of 105 suddenly stopped going to synagogue. Alarmed by the old fellow’s absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the rabbi went to see him.

He found him in excellent health, so the rabbi asked, “How come after all these years we don’t see you at services anymore?”

“I will tell you, Rabbi,” the old man whispered. “When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, and then 105. So I figured that God is very busy and must’ve forgotten about me…and I don’t want to remind him!”

The logic of this man may not make sense but his desire is understandable. He wanted to hide from the inevitable. And we must admit there are times when we would all like to hide.

Ten Minutes of Torah: Kol Nidrei

REPRINTED FROM THE UNION OF REFORM JUDAISM’S: REFORMJUDAISM.org Ten Minutes of Torah Series –

In Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, at the beginning of their first date, Woody asks Annie for a first kiss. As he explains it, he knows both of them will be thinking about it all through the night so wouldn’t it be better to get it out of the way and then enjoy the evening?

I think something similar happens on Kol Nidre as we listen to this most beautiful of melodies, asking God to forgive our shortcomings and transgressions. After the Kol Nidre chant is finished, traditionally – and included in the Mishkan HaNefesh pilot – we feature a verse from Numbers 14:20 wherein God says “I forgive you.”

At first glance, this verse seems strangely misplaced. We just asked that our vows be released and our failures forgiven. The service literally has just begun. The observance of Yom Kippur is barely started. And God says, “Okay. I forgive you.” Talk about anticlimactic! It would be understandable if we said, “Great. Let’s go home before God changes God’s mind!