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Tuesday, 18 Shevat 5773 / January 29, 2013

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Nedarim - Chapter 9

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Nedarim - Chapter 9

Halacha 1

With regard to vows, we follow the intent of the words people use at that place, in that language, and at that time when the vow or oath was taken.1

What is implied? A person took a vow or an oath not [to partake of] cooked food. If it was customary in that place in that language and at that time to call roasted meat and boiled meat2 also cooked food, he is forbidden to partake of all types of cooked food. If they were accustomed to use the term cooked food only to refer to meat cooked with water and spices, he is permitted [to partake of] roasted meat or boiled meat. Similarly, with regard to smoked food or food cooked in the hot springs of Tiberias. We follow the terminology used by the people of that city.

Halacha 2

[The following rules apply if a person] took a vow or an oath not to partake of salted foods. If it is customary to call all salted foods "salted food," he is forbidden to partake of all of them.3 If it is customary to use the term "salted food" to refer only to salted fish, he is only forbidden to partake of salted fish.

Halacha 3

[The following rules apply if a person] took a vow or an oath not to partake of pickled foods. If it is customary to call all pickled foods "pickled food," he is forbidden to partake of all of them.4 If it is customary to use the term "pickled food" to refer only to pickled vegetables, he is only forbidden to partake of pickled vegetables. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Halacha 4

If some of the people would refer to food with one term and others would not use that term, we do not follow [the practice of] the majority. Instead, it is considered an unresolved question with regard to his vow. And whenever there is an unresolved question with regard to a vow, we rule stringently.5 If one violates the vow, however, he is not worthy of lashes.6

Halacha 5

What is implied? A person takes a vow [not to partake] of oil in a place where both olive oil and sesame seed oil is used. When most people from that place use the term "oil" without any modifier, they mean olive oil. When they refer to sesame seed oil, they call it "sesame seed oil." A minority of the populace, however, also refer to sesame seed oil with the term "oil" without a modifier. [Hence,] he is forbidden to partake of both of them, but is not liable for lashes for [partaking of] sesame seed oil. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Halacha 6

Whenever an agent in a given locale would have to question [the principal if that was his intent], it is considered in the category of the substance that was mentioned to the agent when [the term is mentioned] without a modifier.

What is implied? In a place where if a person would send an agent to buy meat without using a modifier to describe the term, the agent would tell him: "I found only fish [being sold],"7 [a person who took a vow not to partake of meat] is forbidden to partake of fish as well.8 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

In all places, a person who takes a vow [not to partake] of meat is forbidden to partake of fowl and of the entrails,9 but is permitted to partake of grasshoppers.10 If it appears that at the time he took the vow, his intent was only to forbid meat from an animal - or meat from an animal and fowl - he is permitted [to partake] of fish even in a place where an agent would question [if fish would be considered as meat].11

Halacha 7

When a person takes a vow against partaking of cooked food, he is permitted to partake of an egg that has not been cooked until it hardens, but has merely been soft-boiled.12 When a person takes a vow [not to partake of food] boiled lightly in a pot,13 he is only forbidden [to partake] of those foods that are boiled in a pot, e.g., groats, dumplings, and the like.14 If he forbade himself from partaking of anything placed in a pot, he is forbidden to partake of all food cooked in a pot.

Halacha 8

A person who vows [not to partake] of fish is permitted to partake of brine and a dip made with fish oil.15 A person who vows [not to partake] of milk is permitted to partake of the whey, i.e., the liquid that is separated from the milk. If he vows [not to partake] of whey, he is permitted to partake of milk. If he vows [not to partake] of cheese, he is forbidden to partake of both salted cheese and unsalted cheese.16

Halacha 9

A person who vows not to partake of grains of wheat is forbidden to partake of wheat kernels whether they are fresh or cooked. If he says: "Neither wheat, nor grains of wheat will I taste,"17 he is forbidden to partake of either flour or bread. "I will not taste wheat," he is forbidden to partake of baked goods, but permitted to chew kernels of wheat. If he states: "I will not partake of grains of wheat," he is permitted to partake of baked goods, but forbidden to chew kernels of wheat. If he says: "Neither wheat, nor grains of wheat will I taste," he is forbidden to partake of baked goods, nor may he chew kernels of wheat. When a person takes a vow forbidding himself from partaking of grain, he is forbidden only [to partake of] the five species.18

Halacha 10

When a person takes a vow [not to partake of] green vegetables, he is permitted to partake of squash.19 If he takes a vow [not to partake of] leek, he is permitted to partake of the poret.20

If a person takes a vow [not to partake of] cabbage, he is forbidden to partake of the water cooked with cabbage, for the water in which food is cooked is considered as the food itself.21 If, however, he vowed not to partake of the water in which a food is cooked, he may partake of the cooked food itself.22

A person who takes a vow [not to partake of] sauce is permitted [to partake of] the spices. [One who takes a vow not to partake] of the spices is permitted [to partake of] the sauce. One who takes a vow [not to partake of] groats23 is forbidden [to partake of] the thick sauce produced by the groats.24

Halacha 11

A person who takes a vow [not to partake of] the produce of the earth is forbidden to partake of all the produce of the earth,25 but is permitted [to partake of] fungi and mushrooms.26 If he says: "Everything that grows upon the earth is [forbidden] to me," he is forbidden to partake of even fungi and mushrooms. [The rationale is that] although they do not derive their nurture from the earth, they grow upon the earth.

Halacha 12

When a person takes a vow forbidding himself from partaking of the produce of a particular year, he is forbidden to partake of all the produce of that year. He is, however, permitted to partake of kid-goats, lambs, milk, eggs, and, chicks.27 If, however, he said: "All of the products of a given year are [forbidden] to me," he is forbidden to partake of all of them.28

When a person takes a vow forbidding himself from partaking of the fruits of the kayitz, he is forbidden only to partake of figs.29

Halacha 13

In all of the above - and in analogous instances - follow this general principle: With regard to vows, we follow the intent of the words people use at that place, in that language, and at that time when the vow or oath was taken.30 Based on this principle, one should rule and say: "The person who took the vow is forbidden [to benefit from] these entities and permitted [to benefit from] these entities."

Halacha 14

When a person takes a vow [not to partake of grapes], he is permitted to partake of wine, even fresh wine.31 [If he takes a vow not to partake] of olives, he is permitted to partake of oil. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of dates, he is permitted to partake of date-honey. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of grapes that blossom in the fall,32 he is permitted to partake of vinegar that is produced from them.33

If he takes a vow not to partake] of wine, he is permitted to partake of apple wine. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of oil, he is permitted to partake of sesame seed oil. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of honey,34 he is permitted to partake of date honey. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of vinegar, he is permitted to partake of vinegar produced from grapes that blossom in the fall. [If he takes a vow not to partake] of vegetables, he is permitted to partake of vegetables that grow on their own.35 [The rationale for all of these rulings is] that [the names of] all these substances have a modifier36 and [when] the person took the vow, he referred to the substance without a modifier. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Halacha 15

When a person takes a vow not to wear clothing, he is permitted [to cover himself] with sackcloth,37 a coarsely woven thick fabric,38 a thick sheet used as a rainshield.39

[When a person takes a vow not to enter] a house, he is forbidden to enter its loft. For the loft is part of the house. [If he] takes a vow [not to enter] a loft, he is permitted [to enter] the home.

[When a person takes a vow not to] use a dargeish,40 he is permitted [to use] a bed. [If he takes a vow not to use] a bed, he is forbidden to use a dargeish, because it is like a small bed.

Halacha 16

When a person takes a vow not to enter a particular house, he is forbidden to enter from the doorframe onward. When one takes a vow not to enter a particular city, he is permitted to enter its Sabbath limits.41 He is, however, forbidding to enter its outlying areas.42

Halacha 17

When a person takes a vow not to benefit from the residents of a city and a person comes and lives there for twelve months, it is forbidden for the person who took the vow to benefit from him.43 If he stays for a lesser time, it is permitted.

If he takes a vow from those who dwell in a city, he is forbidden to benefit from anyone who dwells there for 30 days. He is permitted to benefit from one who dwells there for a lesser period.44

Halacha 18

When a person takes a vow [not to benefit] from the water that flows from this-and-this spring, he is forbidden [to benefit] from all the rivers that derive nurture from it. Needless to say, this refers to those that flow directly from it. Although the name [of the body of water] has changed and it is now called "the So-and-So River" or "the So-and-So well," and we do not associate it at all with the name of the spring concerning which a vow was taken, since it is the source for these bodies of water, he is forbidden to benefit from all of them. If, however, a person takes a vow [not to benefit] from this-and-this river or spring, he is only forbidden [to benefit] from those rivers called by that name.

Halacha 19

When a person takes a vow not [to benefit] from sea-farers,45 he is permitted [to benefit] from those who dwell on the land. When he takes a vow not [to benefit] from those who dwell on the land, he is forbidden [to benefit] from sea-farers even though they set out to the Mediterranean Sea. For sea-farers are considered as among those who dwell on land.46

When he takes a vow not [to benefit] from those who see the sun, he is forbidden to benefit from the blind.47 For his intent was those who are seen by the sun. If he takes a vow not [to benefit] from those who are dark-haired, he is forbidden to benefit from men who are bald and grey-haired48 and permitted to benefit from women49 and children.50 If it customary to refer to all people as dark-haired, he is forbidden to benefit from everyone.

Halacha 20

When a person takes a vow not [to benefit] from those who rest on the Sabbath, he is forbidden [to benefit] from Jews and Samaritans.51 One who takes a vow not [to benefit] from those who make pilgrimages to Jerusalem is forbidden to benefit from the Jews and permitted to benefit from Samaritans. For his intent was to include only those for whom it is a mitzvah to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.52

When one takes a vow not [to benefit] from the descendants of Noah, he is permitted to benefit from the Jews.53 For the term "descendants of Noah" is used only to refer to members of other nations.

Halacha 21

When a person takes a vow not [to benefit] from the descendants of Abraham, he is permitted [to benefit] from the descendants of Yishmael and the descendants of Esau.54 He is forbidden to benefit only from the Jews,55 as [indicated by Genesis 21:12]: "Through Isaac, your offspring will be called."56 And Isaac told Jacob [ibid. 28:4]: "And I will give you the blessing of Abraham."57

Halacha 22

When a person takes a vow not [to benefit] from uncircumcised individuals, he is forbidden [to benefit] from circumcised gentiles,58 but is permitted [to benefit] from uncircumcised Jews. If he takes a vow not [to benefit] from circumcised individuals, he is forbidden [to benefit] from uncircumcised Jews, but is permitted [to benefit] from circumcised gentiles.

[The rationale is that] the foreskin is identified with the gentiles, as [Jeremiah 9:25] states: "For all the gentiles are uncircumcised. His intent is only to refer to those who are commanded concerning the circumcision and not to those who were not commanded concerning it.

Halacha 23

When a person takes a vow not [to benefit] from the Jewish people, he is forbidden [to benefit] from converts. [When a person takes a vow not to benefit] from converts, he is permitted [to benefit] from natural born Jews. When he takes a vow [not to benefit] from Israelites, he is forbidden [to benefit] from priests and Levites.59 [When he vows not to benefit] from the priests and the Levites, he is permitted to benefit from an Israelite. [When he vows not to benefit] from the priests, he is permitted to benefit from the Levites.60 [When he vows not to benefit] from the Levites, he is permitted to benefit from the priests. [When he vows not to benefit] from his sons, he is permitted to benefit from his grandchildren.61In all these and analogous matters, the laws regarding those who take a vow and an oath are the same.

FOOTNOTES
1.

The Rambam's rationale is that since everything depends on the person's intent, it is logical to assume that the meaning of his statements follows the usage common at that time and place. See also Halachah 13.

One might ask: If so, why in the halachot that follow does the Rambam set out guidelines with regard to vows. The Radbaz (in his gloss to Halachah 13) explains that these guidelines should be followed only in places where there is no clarity regarding the expressions commonly used.

2.

I.e., boiled without spices (Rav Avraham MinHaHar).

3.

Although the Rambam's ruling runs contrary to the statements of the Mishnah (Nedarim 6:2), the Rambam relies on the principle that the determinant factor in values is the meaning attached to the terms used by people at that time and in that place. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 217:3) follows the Rambam's approach.

4.

Although the Rambam's ruling runs contrary to the statements of the Mishnah (Nedarim 6:2), the Rambam relies on the principle that the determinant factor in values is the meaning attached to the terms used by people at that time and in that place. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 217:3) follows the Rambam's approach.

5.

Since there is a possibility that a prohibition is involved, we must rule stringently.

6.

For corporal punishment is inflicted only when we are certain that a prohibition has been violated.

7.

I.e., he is not certain whether the principal's intent when telling him to buy meat was to buy fish or not.

8.

For in that locale, it is possible that it is referred to as "meat."

9.

For they are generally referred to as meat.

10.

For they are not. In the present age, this principle also applies to fish. The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 217:8) goes further and states that even fowl is not usually implied by the term "meat."

11.

The commentaries have noted that the Rambam's ruling is not entirely identical with that of his source (Nedarim 54a). In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Chullin 8:1), the Rambam explains this difficulty, stating that the meanings of terms used today are different than the meanings used for the same terms in the Talmudic period.

12.

See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 6:1).

13.

This is the implication of the Hebrew term used by the Rambam [Bayit Chadash (Yoreh De'ah 217)].

14.

E.g., porridge (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit.). See also Hilchot Berachot 3:4 which discusses these terms.

15.

See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 6:3).

16.

In the Talmudic and Rabbinic era, most hard cheeses were salted to preserve them.

17.

The term chittim is plural, implying many kernels of grain. Chitah is singular, referring not to a single kernel, but rather to a single entity made from wheat flour (Rabbenu Nissim, as cited by the Kessef Mishneh).

18.

I.e., wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. Other grains, e.g., rice and millet, are not included.

19.

For in Talmudic terminology, the term green vegetable refers to vegetables that are eaten raw and squash must be cooked.

20.

These two species of vegetables are similar, but not identical. Therefore, the Rambam feels it necessary to make this clarification. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 5:7), he uses the same Arabic term to define the two species but explains that the latter is more commonly grown in Eretz Yisrael.

21.

For through the cooking process, it takes on the flavor of the food (see Berachot 39a; Hilchot Berachot 8:4). In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 5:8), the Rambam maintains that this is the meaning of the first clause of that mishnah. Rashi and others, while accepting this principle, interpret that clause differently.

22.

For there is obviously a difference between the food and the liquid in which it was cooked.

23.

I.e., ground beans (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit.).

24.

For it has the flavor of the groats.

25.

Not only vegetables, but fruit as well [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 217:23)].

26.

Our Rabbis explain that the terms refer to species that have little botanical difference between them. The first term refers to those mushrooms which grow on the earth and the second, to those which grow in trees. The rationale is that, as the Rambam states, these fungi do not have roots. Thus they do not derive their nurture from the earth, but from the atmosphere (see Nedarim 55b; Hilchot Ma'aser Sheni 7:4).

27.

The Hebrew word peirot can also be interpreted as: "benefit accruing from." Thus these entities could be included in the term. Nevertheless, since this is not the popular usage, they are not included.

28.

The Siftei Cohen 217:31 explains that this applies only when it is possible for a person to abide by this prohibition. If, however, the vow prevents him from eating enough to maintain his wellbeing, it is nullified.

29.

The term kayitz has a specific meaning "fruit harvested by hand," rather than cut from the tree with a knife. Therefore, it refers to the fig harvest alone (Nedarim 61b).

30.

As stated in Halachah 1. The Radbaz explains that the only reason the Rambam mentioned all the principles in the above and following halachot is to clarify the guidelines set forth by our Sages. They should be followed only in places where there is no clarity regarding the expressions commonly used.

31.

Even though the wine tastes the same as grapes, since it is called by a different name, it is not considered in the same category (Siftei Cohen 216:27). This principle is reflected in all the rulings of this halachah: As long as an entity has a different name, even if its flavor is the same as another entity and even their substance is fundamentally the same, they are considered as different entities with regard to vows.

32.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 6:6) explains that these grapes are not fit to be eaten and instead, are used to produce vinegar.

33.

The substances produced by the fruit are considered as being different from the fruit itself.

34.

Although the Torah uses the term honey to refer to date-honey, in common usage, everyone understands the term as referring to bee honey (Siftei Cohen 217:22).

35.

The Siftei Cohen 217:15 states that in the present age, people do not make such a distinction when referring to these vegetables.

36.

I.e., they are not referred to by the name of the substance as it is used without a modifier.

37.

This term refers to a weave from goat's hair (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Nedarim 7:3).

38.

This translation is taken from the above source.

39.

This translation is also taken from the above source. The rationale is that none of these fabrics are considered as garments.

40.

A small bed that is placed before a larger bed to use as a stepstool for the larger bed (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Nedarim 7:4).

41.

The area 2000 cubits around the city. See Hilchot Shabbat 27:1-2.

In other contexts, this area - and indeed, even further removed places - are considered as part of a city. With regard to vows, this is not the case, for we follow the terminology people commonly used (Siftei Cohen 217:35).

42.

This term refers to homes that are located within 70 cubits of each other on the perimeter of the city. As long as they are within that distance of another home, they are considered as part of the city itself (Hilchot Shabbat 28:1; the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Nedarim, loc. cit.).

Nedarim 56b derives these concepts from the exegesis of Biblical verses. Joshua 5:13 states: "And while Joshua was in Jericho" and describes an event that took place while the Jews were camp on the outer reaches of the city. And when speaking about measuring the area 2000 cubits around a city, Numbers 35:5 speaks of measuring "outside the city."

43.

Note the parallel to Hilchot Shechenim 6:5 which states that a person who lives in a city for twelve months becomes obligated to pay all the city's levies.

44.

See the Rama (Yoreh De'ah 217:32) and the Siftei Cohen 217:37 who emphasizes that if the common terminology used at present is different, the laws are dependent on the current usages.

45.

This term refers to people who set out on extended journeys, not on short jaunts.

46.

For they do not remain on an ocean journey forever and ultimately, return home.

47.

Even though they cannot see the sun.

48.

For this term is generally used to refer to men, even if they do not have dark hair.

49.

For they are referred to as being "covered-haired" (Rabbeinu Nissim).

50.

For they are referred to as being "uncovered-haired" (ibid.).

51.

This term refers to the people brought by the Assyrians to settle in Samaria after they exiled the Ten Tribes. At first, they converted and observed the rudiments of Judaism. Afterwards, however, they became like gentiles entirely.

52.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 3:8), the Rambam explains that the Samaritans despise Jerusalem and make their pilgrimages to Mount Gerizim instead. The Merkevat HaMishnah explains that since the Samaritans are converts, they do not have a right to a portion in Eretz Yisrael. Hence they are not obligated to ascend to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals (see Hilchot Ma'aser Sheni 11:15).

53.

Although the Jews are also of Noah's descendants, they are not popularly referred to with that term.

54.

Although actually, both of these nations descended from Abraham, Yishmael being Abraham's son and Esau, Isaac's.

55.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 217:40) states that this includes converts.

56.

Thus excluding Yishmael and his descendants.

57.

Thus excluding Esau and his descendants. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 3:11), the Rambam adds another point. In the covenant God made with Abraham bein habetarim, he was told that his descendants would be "strangers in a foreign land" and only Jacob's descendants - not those of Esau or Yishmael - were subjected to this decree.

58.

This includes both gentiles who circumcise themselves for health reasons and those - like the Arabs - who circumcise themselves for religious reasons. The rationale is that the majority of gentiles and uncircumcised and the person made his statements with the intent of referring to the majority. See the Commentary of Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura to Nedarim, loc. cit.

59.

For when the term Israelite is used, it refers to the entire Jewish people as a collective. As Yoma 66a states: "Are not the priests part of Your nation Israel?"

60.

Even though in the Torah, the priests are identified as Levites at times (Deuteronomy 17:9, et al), we follow the wording used by people at large (Radbaz).

61.

Although Yevamot 62b states that grandchildren are considered as children, that is not the meaning employed by people at large (Radbaz).

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