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    The words of our mouth & the meditation of our hearts

    Kol nidreNothing rivals the awe and splendour of Kol Nidrei night. Nothing rivals the Kol Nidrei melody.

    But nothing explains the apparent banality of the Kol Nidrei words.

    The explanation needs us to acknowledge how often the prayer book appeals to God and says, “May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable before You” (Psalm 19:15).

    We don’t seem to notice that the verse equates the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts, implying they are in agreement.

    The reality is that there is often a gap. We mean one thing and say another; we say one thing and mean something else.

    Every Yom Kippur we make a private resolve, “God, this year I’m going to tidy up my life” – but our hearts say something else, “No I’m not: I like me just as I am and I have no real intention to change anything”.

    Enter Kol Nidrei: “God, make my words match my thoughts, and if I mouth words which I don’t really mean, tell me to stop all the nonsense. Don’t look at my vows; look at my heart.

    “Don’t hold me to empty vows; teach me not to promise things I can’t or won’t do; forgive me for the words which I am unlikely to fulfil…”

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