Question: What is Hatarat Nedarim? Why is it prayed so many times? What is the importance of this prayer, what do we learn from it? What happens with the promises that we are sure we did but not accomplished?
Answer: Hatarat Nedarim is a process to absolve oneself from forgotten unfulfilled vows. If one needs a specific vow he cannot keep to be absolved he must appear before a Beit Din of three knowledgeable scholars and specify the vow before them and they will try to find a loop hole. Before Rosh Hashana we try to absolve vows we are not certain about, in order to enter the New Year with a clean slate. Not keeping one’s vow is a serious offense, and especially if we resolve to G-d that we will improve this coming year, we must first make sure that our word means something. That’s why it is repeated. Have a shana tova!
Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum