Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Connecting Kol Nidre with Bullying

Finding a unique Yom Kippur custom is not easy. Even though I haven't found one that will knock your socks off, that very (literal) image got me thinking. About bullying. Is there a connection between bullying and Yom Kippur?  I think we can create a link by examining the introductory lines framing the Kol Nidre prayer chanted on Yom Kippur eve.  Translated into English, the Cantor -- or whoever is leading the prayers -- says: "By the authority of the Court on High and by authority of the Court down here, by the permission of One Who Is Everywhere and by the permission of this Congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with sinners."

In other words, listen up bullies: despite your actions we are still open to accepting you in our midst. How? Perhaps by showing bullies that Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur is a time to examine one's deeds and understand what motivates one's behavior. Once they do that, hopefully they will stop the taunting and be ready to sit by our side on Kol Nidre.

On a personal note, these introductory words were penned by one of my husband's ancestors -- Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg -- in the late 13th century. A century and a half later they were endorsed by the Maharal of Prague (the creator of the Golem). Clearly, these two great Jewish leaders understood that even people who have wronged others are allowed a second chance.

Gmar Hatima Tova.

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