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I was reading about Yom Kippur, and I came across this translation of the traditional recitation of the Kol Nidre:

"All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths."

Doesn't this make all vows, oaths, and pledges non-binding, and therefore, essentially meaningless? How can one be held accountable for one's promises (i.e., vows, oaths, and pledges) if one has already said that one isn't obligated to honor them?

marked as duplicate by msh210 Aug 25 '15 at 5:00

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  • Prior to researching, I want to ascertain that what you are seeking is a more general focus regarding how annulment of vows work overall, correct? Or do you want to know specifically what Kol Nidre is about in terms of its formula of vow annulment. I think that Kol Nidre attempts to accomplish something a bit more specific, esp. in terms of its wording. You may want to clarify your focus in your question. If it's more generally focused, then this is not specifically a Yom Kippur / Kol Nidre question, as vows can be annulled any time of the year, pretty much. – DanF Aug 25 '15 at 2:57
  • I'm asking about the Kol Nidre in particular. It hadn't occurred to me that there was a more general issue at play here. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 25 '15 at 2:59
  • @DanF I think this question should be specific to the Kol Nidre, but you've intrigued me, so I'll ask another question about the general idea of annulling vows. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 25 '15 at 3:02
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    dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/43385/759 – Double AA Aug 25 '15 at 3:04
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    I remember reading in a Chumash - perhaps the Hertz one(?) - that it was created to nullify the forced oaths that were made during persecutions..when it was a choice between the oath and the bonfire.. – Gary Aug 25 '15 at 17:40