Revealing Our True Selves on Yom Kippur
Kol Nidre 5774, Congregation Dorshei Emet
In response to Bill 60, the Quebec “Charter of Values”
There is a legend, alluded to in our machzor and elsewhere, that the words of Kol Nidre have a hidden meaning.
“Biyeshiva shel ma’alah ubiyeshiva shel matah…Anu matirin lehitpalel im ha’avaryanim.”
“By the authority of the heavenly court, and by the authority of the earthly court; with the consent of the Everpresent and with the consent of this congregation, We hereby permit to pray with those who have transgressed.”
“Anu matirin lehitpalel im ha’avaryanim.” – According to Jewish legend, ha’avaryanim, those who have transgressed, is a word play on iberyanim, Spaniards, referring to the Jews of Spain who were forced to convert to Christianity during the time of the inquisition in the 15th century.
So: we begin our Kol Nidre service by declaring not only that we permit praying with sinners (‘cause how else would any of us be able to come to shul if sinners were not permitted here??) but, and this would have had special
meaning in the 15th and 16th centuries, also we permit praying with Conversos, with those who have been converted to Christianity, with those who have seemingly turned their back on Judaism but actually, secretly, still hold the desire to be at Kol Nidre service. Still hold on to their hidden identity as a Jew.
After all, who can know anyone’s true reasons for what they do? We can outwardly pledge something for political or social gain but hold our true beliefs on the inside. Jews have had to do this throughout history – from the times of the Roman persecutions when Jews had to study underground or face execution, to the Inquisition and generations of secret Jews who lit Shabbat candles despite their publicly sworn Christianity, to the refusniks of the Soviet era who risked their lives for a piece of matzah to hold seder. Continue reading