Commitment, Kol Nidrei

by | Sep 17, 2005 | 0 comments

Kol Nidrei really bothers me. Through the year we have made many types of commitments. We have committed our money our time and ourselves. In Kol Nidrei we enumerate seven types of commitment we may have made. We recite a formula that absolves us of any commitment we may have made and even ask G-d to disregard in advance any commitments we may make in the year to come.

Kol Nidrei is important because our commitments are important. Commitments are so important that when we commit ourselves to do something kind, holy and important G-d considers it as if we already fulfilled that which we committed to. Everyone in the world makes New Years resolutions but we are the only people in the world that examine these resolutions at the end of the year and make sure we were true to them. If we werenst it would be like passing a bad check. When we write a check, when we make a commitment G-d does not call the bank. He accepts it as cash. If it bounced we have a lot of Kol Nidrei to say.
There is a big difference between doing something with commitment and doing the very same good deed without a commitment. We see that if a non-Jew performs a mitzvah it doesn’t have the same effect as when a Jew performs the very same deed. Gadol Hametzuva VeOseh. They did it but there was no commitment. It’s sometimes easier to do a good deed for someone else’s parent or spouse that for our own because to a stranger deed does not imply commitment. And today there are thousands of wonderful young men and women that are alone to a large degree because they are afraid to commit. When we do something with commitment it has a whole different feel to it.

We do a lot of wonderful things but sometimes we lack in commitment. It’s almost funny that when someone just begins to take interest in serious Judaism one of the first things we teach him or her is to say bli neder. I’ll do it, but no commitment. It’s true that we shouldn’t throw around our words cheaply and that perhaps we should never really make a neder per se. It’s not true though that we shouldn’t make commitments because commitments are really the essence of Judaism. At Har Sinai we committed. At the Covenants with Abraham and with Moses we committed. When we marry, the important part is the commitment. We get credit for commitments. Commitments give us strength.

Kol Nidrei is a good time not only to absolve our commitments but we should also examine them and even make them. When we stood under the chupah did we say bli neder? When the American Jewish community undertook to make sure that every Jewish child be afforded a Jewish education did we have a caveat that read ‘only if they can afford it and if their IQ is above 140 and there is no history of learning disability for 3 generations’? There is commitment to friendship. The Torah does not only say to be a nice, courteous person, the Torah says to be a friend. If you are lucky enough to have a friend, be there for him or her. Make a commitment to a friend. Yiddishkeit takes these relationships very seriously. If you believe in an organization, that organization needs more than money and time. They need to be able to count on you. They need a commitment. Commitment is much scarier and riskier than just doing good but Hashem encourages it nevertheless. Don’t be afraid to make commitments in life. Whether it’s in marriage, Torah study, professionally or with our own children, commitment is the secret to success.

I’d like you to start off this Yom Kippur with me tonight by being mekabel, by making a commitment. Renew your commitment to your spouse, to the shiurim you go to and to your chavrusa. Make a commitment to your friends that they count on you no matter what. And along with all of this I’d like to ask you to make a commitment to our Shul. I feel that this shul is and must become much more than the neighborhood minyan. We must become a force in the community. We must become a model for communities around the Country. Because of your good will and reputation and the International fame of my predecessor, wherever I go people know our shul. Someone in Omaha told me yesterday that when he visited Monsey for the first time a few weeks ago he drove his children past the shul to show them Rabbi Wein’s and now Rabbi Haber’s shul. He told his children about the man who talks on the tapes and the man who writes those Pardes books. We have to grow in population, in programming and most of all in our learning and in our Ruchnius. We are starting a youth group which will be different than anything any of us have experienced. It will be a program that will teach children about passion for Yiddishkeit and about the sophistication of Chesed. We can be the community of communities, the voice of sanity, and the future of our children. It needs your commitment and it needs your support. Your pledge tonight to the shul for it’s youth and its shiurim. Your commitment to work with me to build our Kehilla further will be taken by the Ribono Shel Olam as cash. It will tilt the scales in our favor. Our Tefilos should be miskabel in Shomayim for ourselves and our families. May we all have a Gmar Chasima Tova!

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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