I have this nagging feeling that much of what we planned and concocted in the colorful stew of last year’s planning has not developed into much more than a clear broth with little or no flavor at all.
What happened to all those promises we made to ourselves to lose those 20 pounds, exercise more, smoke less, spend more time with our families, and give more charity?
What happened to our promises to others to change, to be there for them when they need us, to never do THAT thing again that drives them crazy mad?
The New Year is upon us once again and with it comes a time of introspection, resolutions and promises made to ourselves and to others.
Are we liable for slander simply because we made promises which we fully intended to keep but simply didn’t for one reason or another?
And what of this year’s ten days of atonement where we once again make similar promises for the umpteenth time? Each promise made wholeheartedly, with commitment and passion all wrapped up with that little nagging voice at the back of our heads reminding us that in all probability it just won’t fly.
Let’s just assume that we don’t want to feel that overwhelming sense of failure when we recite the Kol Nidre prayer before the prayer services of Yom Kippur; a dramatic legal declaration absolving ourselves of all of our past promises and commitments. Should we rather, with every new promise, keep our fingers crossed or say “Bli Neder” (no commitment!) each and every time we make a promise to another human being, to ourselves or to God?
How can anyone take us seriously under those circumstances? How can we take ourselves seriously?
I promise to be there on time…bli neder.
I promise to always be there for you….bli neder.
I promise to pay you back…bli neder.
I promise not to speak slander against others….bli neder.
I promise to exercise three times a week…bli neder.
Till death do us part…bli neder.
I promise. I promise. I promise….Bli neder.
How can we expect God to make promises to us and keep them if he plans on treating his promises to us in much the same way we treat our vows to others.
I write this now because I too feel liable.
I made a promise, a commitment of sorts, which I promised I would never stray from.
I vowed to see something through until the end regardless of the personal price it cost me.
And I almost renegotiated the terms of that vow.
I almost buckled under the pressure.
And while the preparations continue to swirl around me in anticipation of the upcoming holidays: cooking, inviting, reserving seats in the synagogue and buying new clothes, I once again need to do my own little preparation and renew my vow to myself for my own sake, more than for anyone else, even God.
There may be many things in my life that I haven’t succeeded in following through for one reason or another, but there are also some things that I remain committed to and I hope that even when ringing in the new year I can continue to stand strong and with conviction.
This year I will recite Kol Nidrei and I will indeed say it with dedication for all the promises that were made and broken. But even as I say the words I know that this one special promise will remain tucked away in my little back pocket with an IOU written clearly across it.