Meditation Practice for Kol Nidre by Rabbi Marcia Prager

Based on Reb Zalman z”l’s teachings for Kol Nidre.

We chant Kol Nidre three times. Each addresses one dimension.

Put your machzor down. Center yourself. Find a place where the body is in equilibrium.

We hear Kol Nidre three times. The first time we hear Kol Nidre for the body. Here I ask “are there muscles in my body that are that are committed to a particular way of being that does not serve me, that is an anchor for a destructive pattern of behavior that has begun to feel normal..

Are there vows or commitments to destructive habits that are lodged in my muscles because of old habits that I have held in my musculature. Can I stretch in new ways… can I actually teach my muscles new ways of being… We have muscles that we use consciously and unconsciously. Stretch some of them if you can. Try stretching facial muscles. Is their “at rest” position reflecting gratitude or disappointment.. or what?

Good, throughout the day return to this practice. Stretch into a new way of holding your body, a better way to use your face and your smile…

OK, center yourself again. We hear Kol Nidre again, with a message for the heart. Give your heart muscle a massage. It is the most powerful muscle in your body. It is also the seat of compassion. Here too, you might have stored habits of heart that need change. We each have old emotional memories that have been stored up that derive from real experiences, but they are edited and stored in a way that now perhaps hurts us and holds us back. Old habits of feeling, old stale resentments that have become like vows that you need to let go of in order to release new creativity in your relationships. Massage your heart and allow it to release the vows that hold you back from loving.

Find a place where the body is in equilibrium. We hear Kol Nidre again. Examine any vows you made to different habits of mind.. different reality maps. You’ve said “You are really the truth…You are the way of understanding things that are happening that will always guide me.”

But some of those assumptions, some of those ways you mapped your reality may not be working any more. You may have to say “hey I am letting go of this reality map because it is no longer working for me. Because if I hold on to that map it is anchoring me in a perspective that is not a true enough picture. I promised that this would always guide me, but I find that it is not working for me and I would like to let go of that. But I want to hold onto the benefit of my experience, so where do I draw the line… what do I let go of.. The old reality map is ballast. I need to let it go.”


Rabbi Marcia Prager is dean of the ALEPH Ordination Program.