As I reflect on the holiday of Yom Kippur, I find that the very beginning of the Kol Nidre service, the evening service that starts the holiday, truly speaks to me. The service starts out by saying that we deem it appropriate, by the heavenly tribunal, to pray with sinners.
Right from the get-go, I relate. We often hear the misery loves company. Well, this is not misery, but we are saying that we are all in the same boat, that we all have sinned and can do better. I find that this sets the tone for me and I truly enjoy that.
From there, we go into the actual Kol Nidre (All Vows). This to speaks to me. There is a line in here that the Rabbis debated on for years, but it is in the prayer and has been for centuries. We ask G-d to absolve us of any vows we make from this Yom Kippur Holiday until next Yom Kippur. It would make sense to ask for forgiveness and to be absolved from last Yom Kippur to this Yom Kippur. In fact that was what a number of Rabbis felt should be.
For me, however, to word it this way speaks volumes. It says we will try to do better than we did last year. We really believe we can (and we probably do). Still, we realize we are human. We are going to make vows that we will be unable to keep. We are going to do things that will upset people. We know we are not perfect and over the upcoming year, we will make mistakes.
Then we ask G-d to please forgive us ahead of time for those times when our intentions were good, our motives were pure and yet we just failed. While some of the Rabbis may have preferred the language that says from last Yom Kippur to this one, for me the idea of from this one to the next Yom Kippur really works. It sets the tone, for me, as to what I feel this whole holiday is supposed to be about.