Kol Nidrey

Kol Nidrey (כָּל נַדרֵי, all the vows of, being the initial words) is a Jewish prayer which opens the service for the day of atonement. It is repeated three times in the most solemn manner, and runs thus, "All vows, obligations, oaths, or anathemas, whether termed קינם קונס or otherwise, which we shall have vowed, sworn, devoted, or bound ourselves to, from this day of atonement until the next day of atonement (whose arrival we hope for in happiness), we repent, aforehand, of them all; they shall all be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, void, and made of no effect; they shall not be binding, nor have any power; the vows shall not be reckoned vows, the obligations shall, not be obligatory, nor the oath considered as oaths." This liturgical formula has been turned against the Jews, as if by it they absolved themselves from all obligations, and therefore could not be bound by an oath. But it must be considered that the Kol Nidrey speaks only of vows made voluntarily, and not of oaths made to others, for the latter were regarded as inviolable except by the personal consent of the individual who had received the oath. The Kol Nidrey dates from about the 9th century, and in MS. its form varies. In its general form it might be used by bad men to escape obligations. But hatred of the Jews has turned the possibility into a fact, and against this charge the Jews have protested at all times. See Lehmann, Die Abschaffung des Kol Nidre (Mayence, 1863); Aub, Die Eingangsfeier des Versohnungstages (ibid. eod.); Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum (Konigsberg, 1711), 2:489 sq.; Bodenschatz, Kirchliche Verfassung der heutigen Juden, 2, chapter 5; Strack, in Plitt-Herzog, Real- Encyklop. s.v. (B.P.)

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