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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Shvuot - Chapter 4, Shvuot - Chapter 5, Shvuot - Chapter 6

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Shvuot - Chapter 4

1

When a person takes an oath that he will not eat anything on that day and he ate less than an olive-sized portion of food, he is not liable. For "eating" does not involve a quantity less than an olive-sized portion.1 It is as if he partook of less than the minimum measure of a nevelah, a trefe, or the like.2

If he said: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat this substance," and he ate it, he is liable even if the substance concerning which he took the oath is one mustard seed or smaller.3

א

מי שנשבע שלא יאכל היום כלום ואכל פחות מכזית פטור, שאין אכילה פחותה מכזית, והרי הוא כאוכל חצי שיעור מנבלות וטרפות וכיוצא בהן, ואם אמר שבועה שלא אוכל דבר זה ואכלו חייב, ואפילו היה הדבר שנשבע עליו זרע חרדל אחד או פחות ממנו.

2

If he took an oath that he would not taste anything and partook of even the smallest amount of food, he is liable.4

ב

נשבע שלא יטעום כלום ואכל כל שהוא חייב.

3

When a person takes an oath that he will not eat on a specific day and drinks, he is liable, because [a prohibition against] eating includes drinking.5 Therefore, if he both ate and drank, he is liable only for one set of lashes6 if he acted willfully or one sin offering if he transgressed inadvertently.

ג

מי שנשבע שלא יאכל היום ושתה חייב שהשתייה בכלל אכילה, לפיכך אם אכל ושתה אינו חייב אלא מלקות אחת אם היה מזיד או חטאת אחת אם היה שוגג.

4

When a person took an oath not to drink on a given day, he is permitted to eat, because [a prohibition against] drinking does not include eating. How much must he drink for him to be liable? It appears to me7 that he is not liable unless he drinks a revi'it8 as is the case with regard to other prohibitions.9

ד

נשבע שלא ישתה היום הרי זה מותר לאכול, שאין אכילה בכלל שתיה, וכמה ישתה ויהא חייב נראה לי שאינו חייב עד שישתה רביעית כשאר האיסורין.

5

When a person takes an oath that he will not eat on a particular day and partook of many types of food, or he takes an oath that he will not drink on a particular day and partakes of many types of beverages, he is only liable once.10 Even if he said: "[I am taking] an oath that today I will not eat meat, bread, or beans," and he eat all [these types of food]. He is only liable once. All [of these foods] can be joined together to reach the measure of an olive-sized portion.11

ה

שבועה שלא אוכל היום ואכל מינין הרבה, או שבועה שלא אשתה היום ושתה מיני משקין הרבה אינו חייב אלא אחת, ואפילו אמר שבועה שלא אוכל היום בשר ופת וקטנית ואכל הכל אינו חייב אלא אחת וכולן מצטרפין לכזית.

6

When a person takes an oath that he will neither eat nor drink and then eats and drinks, he is liable twice. Although drinking is included in eating, since he specifically said: "And I will not drink," he revealed his intention not to include drinking in eating.12 Thus it is as if he took an oath on this independently and this independently. Therefore he is liable twice.

ו

שבועה שלא אוכל ושלא אשתה ואכל ושתה חייב שתים שהשתיה בכלל אכילה, והואיל ופרט ואמר ושלא אשתה גלה דעתו שלא כלל השתיה בכלל האכילה ונמצא כנשבע על זה בפני עצמו ועל זה בפני עצמו ולפיכך חייב שתים.

7

Similarly, if a person said: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat bread from wheat, bread from barley, or bread from buckwheat," he is liable for each one individually if he partakes of them. He mentioned "bread" three times13 to make a distinction and cause him to be liable for each one individually.

ז

וכן האומר שבועה שלא אוכל פת חטין ופת שעורין ופת כוסמין ואכלן חייב על כל אחת ואחת שלא אמר פת ופת ופת אלא לחלק ולחייב על כל אחת.

8

[The following laws apply when a person's] colleague was persistently imploring him to eat at his [home], telling him: "Come and drink with me, wine, milk, and honey." If he answers: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not drink wine, milk, and honey," he is liable for each one individually if he partakes of them. [To be liable only once,] he should have said: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not drink anything," or "...[that I will not drink] what you said." Since he repeated the phrase, stating each one individually,14 he revealed his intention that he obligated himself with an oath for each and every type [of beverage] individually. Therefore [the beverages] are not combined with each other [to reach the minimum measure]15 and the person is liable only when he eats the minimum measure from each one individually. Since a sin offering is required for each one individually, they are like fat and blood which cannot be combined for [the measure of] an olive-sized portion as explained in Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot.16

ח

היה חבירו מסרהב בו לאכול אצלו ואמר לו בוא ושתה עמי יין וחלב ודבש, ואמר שבועה שאיני שותה יין וחלב ודבש ושתה מהן חייב על כל אחת ואחת בפני עצמו, שהיה לו לומר שבועה שאיני שותה כלום או מה שאמרת ומשחזר ופרט גלה דעתו שחייב עצמו בשבועה על כל מין ומין בפני עצמו, לפיכך אין מצטרפין זה עם זה ואינו חייב עד שיאכל כשיעור ממין אחד, הואיל והן חלוקין לחטאות הרי הן כחלב ודם שאינן מצטרפין לכזית כמו שנתבאר בהלכות מאכלות אסורות.

9

[When one says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat this loaf," or "...that I will not eat it," once he eats an olive-sized portion of it, he is liable.17 [If he says:] "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it up,"18 he is not liable until he eats the entire loaf.

If he says: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat this loaf; [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it up," should he eat it,19 he is liable only once.20

ט

שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו או שלא אוכל אותה כיון שאכל ממנה כזית חייב, שבועה שלא אוכלנה אינו חייב עד שיאכל את כולה, אמר שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו שבועה שלא אוכלנה ואכלה אינו חייב אלא אחת. 49

10

Similarly, if one said: ["I am taking] an oath that I will not eat today,"21 and then took an oath concerning a loaf that he would not eat it up, [even though] he eats the entire [loaf] that day, he is not liable only once.22 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.23 [The rationale is that] an oath does not take effect when another is already in effect.24

If, however, one took an oath that he would not eat up a loaf and afterwards, took an oath that he would not eat anything or that he would not eat this loaf, he is liable twice. [The rationale is that] at the time he took the oath that he would not eat it up, he would not be liable unless he ate the entire loaf. Thus when he took a second oath that he would not eat anything or that he would not eat the loaf, he is liable [for the latter oath,] when he eats an olive-sized portion. And when he eats the entire [loaf], he is liable for his first oath.

י

וכן אם אמר שבועה שלא אוכל היום וחזר ונשבע על הככר שלא יאכלנה ואכלה כולה באותו היום אינו חייב אלא אחת וכן כל כיוצא בזה שאין שבועה חלה על שבועה, אבל אם נשבע על הככר שלא יאכלנה וחזר ונשבע שלא יאכל כלום, או שלא יאכל ככר זו ואכלה כולה חייב שתים, שבשעה שנשבע בתחילה שלא יאכלנה אינו חייב עד שיאכל כולה, וכשחזר ונשבע שלא יאכל [כלום] או שלא יאכל אותה משיאכל ממנה כזית יתחייב וכשיאכל כולה יתחייב בשבועה ראשונה. 50

11

[When a person takes] an oath not to eat figs and afterwards, takes an oath not to eat figs and grapes, he is liable twice for [eating] figs. [The rationale is that] he included the figs which were forbidden in the first oath with grapes that were permitted. Since the second oath took effect with regard the grapes, it also took effect with regard the figs and he becomes liable for two oaths, as we explained in Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot.25

יא

שבועה שלא אוכל תאנים, וחזר ונשבע על התאנים ועל הענבים חייב על התאנים שתים שהרי כלל התאנים שנאסרו בשבועה ראשונה עם הענבים שהיו מותרין ומתוך שחלה שבועה שניה על הענבים חלה על התאנים ונתחייב בשתי שבועות כמו שבארנו בהלכות מאכלות אסורות.

12

[If one said: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat eight [of this item]," "...an oath that I will not eat nine," and "...an oath that I will not eat ten," he is liable only once whether he ate eight, nine, or ten.26

יב

שבועה שלא אוכל שמונה, שבועה שלא אוכל תשע, שבועה שלא אוכל עשר, בין שאכל שמונה בין שאכל תשע בין שאכל עשר אינו חייב אלא אחת.

13

[If one said: "I am taking] an oath that I will not ten," "...an oath that I will not eat nine," and "...an oath that I will not eat eight," if he eats ten, he is liable three times, one for each oath.27 Similarly, if he eats nine, he is liable twice. If he eats eight, he is liable once.28

יג

שבועה שלא אוכל עשר, שבועה שלא אוכל תשע, שבועה שלא אוכל שמונה, אם אכל עשר חייב שלש על כל שבועה ושבועה אחת, וכן אם אכל תשע חייב שתים, אכל שמונה חייב אחת.

14

[The following rules apply when a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat figs," and then takes another oath that he will not eat figs and dates together.29 If he forgot, ate figs, and set aside a sacrifice,30 afterwards, forgot, and ate grapes, he is not liable for the grapes. [The rationale is that] this is like half the measure [for which one is liable]31 and one does not bring a sacrifice for half the measure.

יד

שבועה שלא אוכל תאנים וחזר ונשבע שלא יאכל תאנים וענבים כאחת, ושגג ואכל תאנים והפריש קרבן, ואח"כ שגג ואכל ענבים אינו חייב על הענבים מפני שהן כחצי שיעור ואין מביאין קרבן על חצי שיעור.

15

Similar [laws apply if] one took an oath that he would not eat ten, and then took an oath that he would not eat ten and nine.32 If he ate ten, separated a sacrifice,33 and then forgot and ate nine, this is like half the measure and one does not bring a sacrifice for half the measure. For the final oath concerned not eating nineteen.34

טו

וכן הנשבע שלא יאכל עשר וחזר ונשבע שלא יאכל עשר ותשע ואכל עשר והפריש קרבן וחזר ושגג ואכל תשע הרי זה כחצי שיעור, ואין מביאין קרבן על חצי שיעור, שענין שבועה אחרונה שלא יאכל תשע ועשר. 51

16

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat this large loaf if I eat this small loaf," if he forgets this stipulation when he eats the smaller loaf and afterwards willfully eats the larger [loaf], he is liable [for lashes].35

טז

שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו הגדולה אם אוכל ככר זו הקטנה ושכח תנאי זה בעת שאכל הקטנה ואכל אח"כ הגדולה במזיד חייב. 52

17

If he ate the small one while he remembered the stipulation and knew that by eating it, the larger one would become forbidden and then forgot and ate the larger one while thinking that it was not forbidden yet, he is exempt.36 If he ate both of them unintentionally,37 he is exempt.38 [If he ate them] both willfully, he is liable,39 regardless of whether he ate the larger one first40 or last.

יז

אכל את הקטנה והוא זוכר התנאי ויודע שבאכילתה תאסר הגדולה וישכח ואכל את הגדולה וכמדומה לו שעדיין לא נאסרה פטור, אכל שתיהן בשגגה פטור, שתיהן במזיד בין שאכל הגדולה בתחלה או באחרונה חייב. 53

18

Similarly, if he made the two loafs dependent on each other,41 taking an oath saying: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat one of these [loaves] if I eat the other." If he forgot the stipulation and ate one of them and then willfully ate the other, he is liable.42

יח

וכן אם תלאן זו בזו ונשבע ואמר שבועה שלא אוכל אחת מהם אם אכלתי האחרת ושכח התנאי ואכל אחת מהן ואכל השניה בזדון חייב. 54

19

If he ate the first one willfully, but the second one inadvertently, he is exempt. [If he ate them] both willfully, he is liable.43

יט

אכל הראשונה בזדון והשניה בשגגה פטור, שתיהן בזדון חייב. 55

20

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will eat this loaf today," and the day passes without him eating it, should he have acted unintentionally, he must bring an adjustable guilt offering. If he acted willfully, he is not liable for lashes, because he did not perform a deed,44 even though he violated [the prohibition against] taking a false oath.

כ

שבועה שאוכל ככר זו היום ועבר היום ולא אכלה, בשוגג מביא קרבן עולה ויורד, במזיד אינו לוקה שהרי לא עשה מעשה ואף על פי שעבר על שבועת שקר.

21

Why is a person who took an oath that he ate liable for lashes [if] he did not eat and one [who took an oath] that he did not eat [liable] if he did eat, even though he did not perform a deed. Because at the time he took the oath, he was taking a false oath.45 If, however, a person takes an oath that he will perform [a particular activity], it is not a false oath at the time it was taken.

כא

ומפני מה לוקה אם נשבע שאכל והוא לא אכל או שלא אכל והוא אכל ואע"פ שלא עשה מעשה, מפני שמעת שבועתו לשקר נשבע, אבל אם נשבע שיעשה והוא לא עשה אינה שבועת שקר משעת שבועה.

22

[The following laws apply when] a person tells a colleague: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat at your [home],"46 or [his colleague] was persistently imploring him to eat at his [home] and he refuses. If he takes an oath and says: "My oath [will take effect] if I eat at your [home]," or if he says: "There will be no oath if I do not eat at your [home],"47 these all bring about prohibitions. [It is considered that] he took an oath that he would not eat at his [home]. If he used all of these expressions [together] and transgressed and ate, he is only liable once.48

כב

מי שאמר לחבירו שבועה לא אוכל לך או שבועה שאיני אוכל לך או שהיה מסרהב בו לאכול אצלו והוא נמנע ונשבע ואמר שבועה שאוכל לך, וכן האומר לא שבועה לא אוכל לך כל אלו אסורין והרי נשבע שלא יאכל אצלו, ואם אמר כל הלשונות האלו ועבר ואכל אינו חייב אלא אחת.

Footnotes
1.

This is a principle applying to all of the Torah's prohibitions concerning eating.

2.

In such an instance, as stated in Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 4,:7-8, the prohibition is of Scriptural origin, but the violator is not punished. Accordingly, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 238:1) rules that it is forbidden for the person who took such an oath to partake of even the slightest quantity of food.

3.

Because he singled out a specific article and by partaking of it broke his oath.

4.

For tasting does not imply eating a full measure of food. Since he used that expression, it is clear that his intent was to forbid partaking of even the slightest measure of food.

5.

Sh'vuot 22b derives this concept from Deuteronomy 14:23: "And you shall eat before God, your Lord... the tithes of your grain, your wine, and your oil." Implied is that partaking of wine and oil is also eating.

6.

As in Halachah 5.

7.

This expression indicates a conclusion derived by the Rambam from logic without any explicit Talmudic or Midrashic source.

8.

I.e., a fourth of a log. In contemporary measure, a revi'it is equivalent to 86 cc. according to Shiurei Torah and 150 cc. according to Chazon Ish.

9.

The Radbaz explains that since this is the measure which the Torah considered significant in other contexts, one can extrapolate that anything less is not considered significant enough to warrant liability. Alternatively, with regard to oaths and vows, we follow the commonly accepted implications of the terms used and people do not consider partaking of a smaller measure as "drinking."

10.

I.e., for one set of lashes or one sacrifice. As will be explained, this applies only when the transgressor did not become aware of his oath between eating.

11.

The minimum measure for which one is liable as stated in Halachah 1. The Radbaz states that the superficial implication of the Rambam's words is that it is not necessary for one to partake of such a portion of each of the foods separately to be liable. He differs and maintains that the person must partake of all of them to be liable.

12.

Otherwise, it would be considered as eating as stated in Halachah 3.

13.

If, however, he mentioned "bread" only once, he is liable only once. See Halachah 5.

14.

I.e., the emphasis is one repeating his colleague's words, while stating each one individually. That shows that his intent is focused on each one individually. If, however, he made such a statement on his own initiative, without repeating his colleague's words, they are not considered to have been singled out [Rav Kapach's edition of the Rambam's Comemntary to the Mishneh (Sh'vuot 3:4)].

15.

I.e., if he drank half of a revi'it of wine and half of a revi'it of milk, he is not liable.

16.

Chapter 4, Halachah 16.

17.

We assume that his intention when taking the oath was to interpret the term eating according to its halachic definition (Radbaz).

18.

Since he spoke in a colloquialism, we assume that he was not referring to the halachic meaning and instead, meant the entire loaf.

19.

Whether an olive-sized portion or the entire loaf.

20.

Because once eating an olive-sized portion of the loaf is forbidden by an oath, a second oath concerning that same loaf cannot take effect, as the Rambam states in the following halachah.

21.

The implication is that he would not eat an olive-sized portion of food that day.

22.

The Ra'avad accepts the principle stated by the Rambam, but explains that this is not a good example of it. For in this instance, the second oath does take effect, for it applies not only on the day that the first oath applies, but for all time. The Radbaz explains that the Rambam would agree that the second oath will take effect as soon as the day on which the first oath is in effect ends. This he maintains is why the Rambam mentions eating it "that day."

23.

For example, that mentioned in Halachah 12.

24.

The rationale for this principle is that a sh'vuat bitui applies only with regard to matters that are dependent upon one's volition, not on those forbidden by the Torah (Chapter 5, Halachah 17). Accordingly, once something is forbidden by an oath, it is no longer a matter dependent on one's volition. Hence, a sh'vuat bitui cannot take effect (Kiryat Sefer).

As stated in Chapter 6, Halachah 17, if the person has the first oath nullified, the second oath takes effect.

25.

Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 8:6 states that although one prohibition does not take effect when an object is already prohibited, there are exceptions. One of them is when the second prohibition includes other entities that were not included in the first prohibition (issur kollel). Similarly, in this instance, since the second oath includes something which is not prohibited by the first oath (grapes), it takes effect.

26.

For he cannot eat nine or ten without first eating eight. Hence, the second and third oaths do not take effect, for one oath does not take effect when the objects it concerns are already forbidden. As mentioned in the Radbaz and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 238:12), there are instances where the second oath can take effect according to the principle of issur kollel, a more inclusive prohibition.

27.

For each oath was separate. After he took the oath forbidding ten, nine were still permitted. And after he took the oath forbidding nine, eight were still permitted. Hence, the later oaths take effect.

28.

When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 238:13) states that if the person specifies 10 specific items in his oath, he is not liable if he later reduces their number to eight, for all ten have become forbidden to him.

29.

I.e., he takes an oath against eating an olive-sized portion of each type of fruit. He does not violate his oath unless he eats both of these portions. Since the second oath also includes grapes, it takes effect with regard to the figs based on the principle of issur kollel.

30.

For breaking his first oath.

31.

For to be liable he must eat grapes and figs together. By realizing his transgression, he makes a distinction between the figs he ate and the grapes.

32.

I.e., his first oath involved ten specific items. His second oath involved nine additional items from a larger group. The Ra'avad claims the Rambam's ruling is a distortion of Sh'vuot 28b. See also Rashi and Tosafot who discuss the proper wording of that source.

33.

For breaking his first oath.

34.

This version, slightly different from that of the standard printed text, is based on authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. The intent is that the second oath included the original ten, plus a second nine. In this instance as well, had he not realized his first transgression, he would have been liable twice for eating the second nine.

35.

This ruling follows the version of Sh'vuot 28a suggested by Rabbenu Chananel. The standard published text of the Talmud reverses the ruling. Thus in the instance stated by the Rambam, one would be exempt as the Ra'avad notes. The ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 239:16) follows that of the standard printed text of the Talmud.

The Rambam's rationale can be explained as follows: Since the person willfully transgressed by eating the larger loaf, he is liable for lashes. The fact that he inadvertently caused the oath to take effect is not of consequence.

The person is liable for lashes only when he is given a warning before transgressing. From this we see that even if a warning is given conditionally, it is effective.

36.

He is exempt for lashes. Nor is he required to bring a sacrifice, for as explained in Chapter 3, Halachah 6, and notes. This is considered as violated an oath due to forces beyond one's control.

The Rambam's rationale is that he did not perform the transgression knowingly. At the time, he partook of the larger loaf, he was not aware that it was forbidden. In this instance as well, the Rambam's ruling does not follow the standard printed text of the Talmud. Hence there are authorities who differ.

37.

I.e., without awareness of the oath.

38.

For both lashes and a sacrifice as in the previous clause.

39.

For lashes (Ra'avad).

40.

And thus it becomes forbidden only retroactively. Although it was already eaten, when he eats the smaller loaf, his eating the larger loaf becomes a prohibited act.

41.

I.e., not only the large loaf dependent on the smaller loaf as in the previous instance, but each one was dependent on the other as the Rambam continues to explain.

42.

For lashes as in Halachah 16. Again, this runs contrary to the standard published text of the Talmud and there are other authorities who differ.

43.

As stated in Halachah 17.

44.

See Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:2. Note the following halachah.

45.

Hence he is liable for lashes, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachot 3, 7.

46.

In the Hebrew, the Rambam restates this phrase using slightly different wording.

47.

The double negative implies that an oath will take effect if he does eat. See Tosafot, Sh'vuot 36b.

48.

I.e., it is not considered as if each one is an independent oath, because an oath cannot take effect when an object is already forbidden by another oath.

The Radbaz explains that the Rambam is interpreting Nedarim 16a. One might think that the passage means that the person took an oath that he would not eat at his colleague's home. Afterwards, his colleague implored him to eat and to appease him, he took an oath that he would eat at his home. Seemingly, this resembles an oath taken in vain, for he is taking an oath to nullify the observance of a mitzvah - the fulfillment of his previous oath. For this reason, the Rambam explains that all of these expressions should be interpreted to mean that he is taking an oath not to eat. Only one of them takes effect, because one oath does not take effect when an object is already forbidden.

49.

שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו או שלא אוכל אותו וכו'. א"א תמה אני מה בין שלא אוכל אותו לשלא אוכלנה וכי יש הפרש בין לשון זכר ללשון נקבה אלא שההפרש בין שאמר ככר זו שלא אוכלנה שכזית מן הככר נקרא ככר אבל שלא אוכלנה משמע על כולה ולא על כזית.

50.

וכן אם אמר שבועה שלא אוכל היום וחזר ונשבע. א"א גם זה שבוש הוא שבתחלה לא נשבע אלא ליומו ולבסוף נשבע על אותו ככר לעולם ואולי כשיאמר שלא אוכלנה היום קאמר.

51.

וכן הנשבע שלא יאכל עשר וכו'. א"א בספרים שלנו אמר שלא יאכל עשר וחזר ואמר שלא יאכל תשע ואכל תשע והפריש קרבן וחזר ואכל עשירית הויא לה עשירית חצי שיעור, ומ"ש הוא שבוש הוא.

52.

שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו הגדולה וכו'. א"א בנוסחא שלנו פטור.

53.

וכמדומה לו שעדיין לא נאסרה פטור. א"א בנוסחא דילן חייב. /השגת הראב"ד/ שתיהן במזיד חייב. א"א הרב הגיה חייב מלקות.

54.

וכן אם לאן /תלאן/ זו בזו כו' ואכל השניה בזדון חייב. א"א בנוסחא דילן פטור.

55.

הראשונה בזדון והשניה בשוגג חייב קרבן. א"א כללו של דבר אינו נתפס על שבועתו אא"כ אכל התנאי והוא זכור שהוא תנאו על האחר כי אז תחול השבועה על אותו הככר שנשבע עליו.

Shvuot - Chapter 5

1

When a person takes an oath that so-and-so threw a stone into the sea and he did not do so, or [he took an oath that] he did not throw it and he did, he is liable for taking a [false] sh'vuat bitui. [This applies] even though there is no [possibility of him taking such an oath] with regard to the future.1 For he cannot take an oath that so-and-so will throw [an article] or will not throw it.

[Indeed,] any person who takes an oath with regard to other people's [conduct - that they will or will not perform a particular activity is not liable for taking a [false] sh'vuat bitui. [This applies even if the person concerned] is his son or wife. For it is not within his potential to keep or nullify the oath. He is given stripes for rebellious conduct since it is not within his potential to keep this oath. Thus he is causing an oath to be taken in vain.2

א

מי שנשבע שזרק איש פלוני צרור לים והוא לא זרק, או שלא זרק והוא זרק, הרי זה חייב בשבועת בטוי, ואף על פי שאינו בלהבא שהרי אינו יכול להשבע שיזרוק ושלא יזרוק איש פלוני, וכל מי שנשבע על אחרים שיעשו כך וכך או לא יעשו אפילו היו בניו או אשתו אינו חייב בשבועת בטוי, שהרי אין בידו לא לקיים ולא לבטל, ומכין אותו מכת מרדות שהרי אין בידו לקיים שבועה זו ונמצא גורם לשבועת שוא.

2

Why isn't he liable for lashes for taking an oath in vain? For it is possible for those other people to heed his [words] and keep his oath. Thus when he is given a warning at the time he takes the oath, the warning is of doubtful status. In such an instance, one is not given lashes because of it unless the prohibition is explicitly stated in the Torah, as will be explained in Hilchot Sanhedrin.3 Other people are not bound to fulfill the words of the person who took the oath unless they responded Amen, as we explained.4

ב

ולמה אינו לוקה משום שבועת שוא שהרי אפשר לאותן אחרים שישמעו ממנו ותתקיים שבועתו, ונמצא כשמתרים בו בעת שנשבע התראת ספק שאין לוקין עליה אלא אם כן היה לאו שבו מפורש בתורה כמו שיתבאר בהלכות סנהדרין, ואין אותן אחרים נזקקין לקיים דברי זה הנשבע אלא אם כן ענו אמן כמו שבארנו.

3

If they fulfilled his words,5 they are praiseworthy, for [in this manner,] they did not habituate [the person who took the oath] to take an oath in vain.6

ג

ואם קיימו דבריו הרי אלו משובחין שלא הרגילו להוציא שבועה לשוא.

4

When does the above apply? When he took an oath concerning a matter that was not in his domain. For example, Reuven took an oath that Shimon would not go on a commercial journey, not eat meat, or the like.7 [Different laws apply,] however, should Reuven take an oath that Shimon may not enter his home and may not derive any benefit from his property. If Shimon transgressed and entered Reuven's house and benefited from his property without Reuven's knowledge, Reuven is exempt, for [his oath was violated] due to forces beyond his control.8 Shimon is liable, for he performed a deed prohibited to him. For Reuven took an oath only with regard to a matter within his property.9 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ד

במה דברים אמורים כשנשבע על דבר שאינו ברשותו, כגון שנשבע ראובן על שמעון שלא ילך בסחורה או שלא יאכל בשר וכיוצא בזה, אבל אם נשבע ראובן שלא יכנס שמעון בביתו ושלא יהנה מנכסיו ועבר שמעון ונכנס לביתו של ראובן ונהנה מנכסיו שלא מדעת ראובן ראובן פטור שהרי הוא אנוס ושמעון חייב שעבר על דבר האסור לו לעשותו, שלא נשבע זה אלא על דבר שהוא ברשותו וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

5

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat," and he ate, but he ate articles that were not fit to be eaten10 or drank beverages that were not fit to be drunk, he is exempt.11 If he partook of foods that are forbidden to be eaten by the Torah, for example, he ate an olive-sized portion of a nevelah,12 a trefe,13 teeming animals, or creeping animals, he is not liable for a [false] sh'vuat bitui.14

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will eat," and he ate articles that were not fit to be eaten or drank beverages that were not fit to be drunk, or he partook of a nevelah, a trefe, or the like, he is not liable for a false sh'vuat bitui. He is considered to have fulfilled [his commitment to] eat. Since they are important in his eyes, eating them is considered as eating.15

ה

שבועה שלא אוכל ואכל אוכלין שאינן ראויין לאכילה ושתה משקים שאינן ראויין לשתייה פטור, אכל דברים האסורין מן התורה באכילה כגון שאכל כזית נבלות וטרפות שקצים ורמשים פטור משום שבועת בטוי, שבועה שאוכל ואכל אוכלין שאינן ראויים לאכילה ושתה משקין שאינן ראויין לשתיה או שאכל נבלות וטרפות וכיוצא בהן פטור משבועת בטוי שהרי יצא ידי אכילה מאחר שהן חשובין אצלו אכילתן שמה אכילה.

6

[When a person said: "I am taking] an oath that I did not eat," and he ate articles that were not fit to be eaten or he partook of a nevelah or a trefe, he is liable. Eating them is considered eating, because they are important to him, as evidenced by his having eaten them.16 With regard to the future, by contrast, i.e., he took an oath that he would not eat and then in an extraordinary instance, he ate them, this is not considered eating, as we explained [above].

ו

שבועה שלא אכלתי והוא אכל דברים שאינן ראויין לאכילה או נבלות וטריפות חייב שאכילתן שמה אכילה שכבר הן חשובין אצלו שהרי אכלן, אבל להבא שנשבע שלא יאכל ונקרה מקרה ואכלן אינה אכילה כמו שבארנו.

7

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat even the slightest amount of a nevelah or a trefe," and he ate less than an olive-sized portion, he is liable for taking a [false] oath, for he is not bound by an oath from Mount Sinai17 for half the measure [which makes him liable].18

ז

שבועה שלא אוכל כל שהוא מנבלות וטרפות ואכל פחות מכזית חייב בשבועה שהרי אינו מושבע על חצי שיעור מהר סיני.

8

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will eat even less than an olive-sized portion of a nevelah or a trefe," he may be liable for taking a false sh'vuat bitui.19

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat earth and the like from substances that are not fit to be eaten," if he eats an olive-sized portion, he is liable. If he ate less than an olive-sized portion, there is a doubt [concerning the ruling]. Perhaps he is liable even for [eating] the smallest amount. Since these substances are not usually eaten so that a full measure must be eaten [for him to be held liable].20

ח

שבועה שאוכל פחות מכזית נבלה וטרפה חייב בשבועת ביטוי, שבועה שלא אוכל עפר וכיוצא בו מדברים שאינן ראויין לאכילה אם אכל כזית חייב, אכל פחות מכזית הרי זה ספק שמא יתחייב בכל שהוא מפני שאין זה דרכו לאכילה כדי להצריכו שיעור.

9

Similarly, when one takes an oath that he would not eat grape seeds and he eats less than an olive-sized portion, there is a doubt [concerning his liability].21If the one taking the oath was a nazirite who is forbidden to eat an olive-sized portion of grape seeds,22 he is not liable for a [false] sh'vuat bitui if he ate less than an olive-sized portion. [The rationale is that] his intent in taking the oath is only concerning the olive-sized portion for which he is already liable and [hence] the oath does not take effect.23 Therefore if one said: "[I am taking] an oath that I will not eat even one grape seed," and ate it, he is liable.24

ט

וכן הנשבע שלא לאכול חרצן ואכל ממנו פחות מכזית הרי זה ספק, היה הנשבע נזיר שהוא אסור בחרצן בכזית ואכל ממנו פחות מכזית אינו חייב בשבועת ביטוי, שהרי אין דעתו בשבועתו אלא על (כל) כזית שהוא מושבע עליו ואין שבועה חלה עליו, לפיכך אם פירש ואמר שבועה שלא אוכל חרצן אחד ואכלו חייב.

10

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat dates, a nevelah or a trefe," and he ate an olive-sized portion of a nevelah or a trefe, he is liable also25 for [taking] a [false] sh'vuat bitui.26 For he included forbidden entities together with permitted entities. Since the oath took effect with regard to the dates, it also takes effect with regard to the forbidden entities, as we explained.27

י

שבועה שלא אוכל תמרים ונבלות וטרפות ואכל כזית נבילה או טרפה חייב אף משום שבועת ביטוי שהרי כלל דברים האסורין עם דברים המותרין, ומתוך שחלה שבועה על התמרים חלה על דברים האסורים כמו שבארנו.

11

If, however, a person took an oath that he would not eat a nevelah, a trefe, or the like,28 regardless of whether he partook of [the forbidden substance] or not, there is no obligation for an oath at all, neither a sh'vuat bitui,29 nor an oath taken in vain.30

יא

אבל אם נשבע שלא יאכל נבלה וטרפה וכיוצא בהן בין אכל בין לא אכל אין כאן חיוב שבועה כלל לא שבועת ביטוי ולא שבועת שוא.

12

When a person takes an oath that he will partake of a nevelah, a trefe, or another similar substance forbidden by the Torah, he is liable for lashes for taking an oath in vain31 whether he partook of the substance or not.32

יב

נשבע שיאכל נבלה וטרפה וכיוצא בהן מאיסורי תורה הרי זה לוקה משום שבועת שוא בין אכל בין לא אכל.

13

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will eat this loaf. [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it," the second oath is an oath taken in vain, for he is commanded to eat it.33 He is liable for lashes for the second oath whether he partakes of [the loaf] or not.34 If he does not eat it,35 he is liable also for [not fulfilling] a sh'vuat bitui.36

יג

שבועה שאוכל ככר זו שבועה שלא אוכלנה השנייה שבועת שוא שהרי מצוה עליו לאכלה ולוקה על שבועה שנייה בין אכל בין לא אכל ואם לא אכלה חייב אף בשבועת בטוי.

14

[When a person says: "I am taking] an oath that I will not eat this loaf. [I am taking] an oath that I will eat it," the second oath is an oath taken in vain, for he is forbidden to eat it.37 He is liable for lashes for the second oath whether he partakes of [the loaf] or not. If he eats it, he is liable also for [not fulfilling] a sh'vuat bitui.

Similarly, whenever one takes an oath to neglect a mitzvah and does not neglect it, he is exempt for [violating] a sh'vuat bitui.38 He is, however, liable for lashes for taking an oath in vain.39 He should perform the mitzvah that he took an oath to neglect.

יד

שבועה שלא אוכל ככר זו שבועה שאוכלנה, השניה שבועת שוא שהרי זו אסורה עליו לאכלה ולוקה על שבועה שניה זו בין אכלה בין לא אכלה, ואם אכלה לוקה אף משום שבועת ביטוי, וכן כל הנשבע לבטל את המצוה ולא ביטל פטור משבועת בטוי ולוקה משום שבועת שוא ועושה המצוה שנשבע לבטלה.

15

What is implied? For example, a person took an oath that he would not make a sukkah, he would not put on tefillin, he would not give charity, he is liable for lashes for taking an oath in vain.40 Similarly, [one is liable] if he takes an oath for a colleague that he will not give testimony that he knows or that he will not testify if he will know testimony, for he is commanded to testify.41 Similarly, if he tells a colleague: "[I am taking] an oath that I will never know testimony concerning you," it is an oath taken in vain, for it is not within his capacity [to be certain] that he will never know of testimony concerning him. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

טו

כיצד כגון שנשבע שלא יעשה סוכה ושלא ילבש תפילין ושלא יתן צדקה, וכן הנשבע לחבירו שלא אעיד לך עדות זו שאני יודעה או שלא אעיד לך אם אדע לך עדות הרי זה לוקה משום שבועת שוא מפני שהוא מצווה להעיד, וכן האומר לחבירו שבועה שלא אדע לך עדות הרי זו שבועת שוא שאין בידו שלא ידע לו עדות וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

16

When a person takes an oath to fulfill a mitzvah and fails to fulfill it, he is not liable for not fulfilling a sh'vuat bitui.42

What is implied? A person took an oath to make a lulav or a sukkah, to give charity, or to testify on behalf [of a colleague] if he knew testimony [that could affect him]. If he did not make [these articles], give [the charity], or testify, he is exempt for [not fulfilling his] sh'vuat bitui. For a sh'vuat bitui takes effect only with regard to matters left to one's choice - [i.e., matters that] if he wants to, he may perform and if he does not want to, he need not perform, as implied by [Leviticus 5:4]: "whether he will do harm or do good."

Therefore whenever anyone takes an oath to harm another person, he is exempt from a sh'vuat bitui, e.g., he takes an oath to strike so-and-so, to curse him, steal his money, or deliver him to the control of a man of force. [The rationale is that] he is commanded not to do [these things]. It appears to me that he is liable for lashes for taking an oath in vain.43

טז

נשבע לקיים את המצוה ולא קיים פטור משום שבועת ביטוי, כיצד כגון שנשבע שיעשה לולב או סוכה או שיתן צדקה לעני או שיעיד לו אם ידע לו עדות ולא עשה ולא נתן ולא העיד הרי זה פטור משום שבועת ביטוי, שאין שבועת ביטוי חלה אלא על דברי הרשות שאם רצה עושה ואם לא רצה אינו עושה שנאמר להרע או להיטיב, לפיכך כל הנשבע להרע לאחרים פטור משבועת ביטוי כגון שנשבע שיכה את פלוני או יקללנו או יגזול ממונו או ימסרנו ביד אנס מפני שהוא מצווה שלא לעשות, ויראה לי שהוא לוקה משום שבועת שוא.

17

If a person took an oath to harm himself, e.g., he took an oath to inflict injury upon himself, the oath takes effect even though he is not allowed to do so.44If he does not harm himself, he is liable for [not fulfilling] a sh'vuat bitui.

If he took an oath to help others with regard to a matter with which he could help them,45 e.g., to speak to the ruling authorities or to show him honor, the oath takes effect. If he transgresses and does not carry out [his promise], he is liable for [not fulfilling] a sh'vuat bitui.

יז

נשבע להרע לעצמו כגון שנשבע שיחבול בעצמו אף על פי שאינו רשאי שבועה חלה עליו, ואם לא הרע לעצמו חייב משום שבועת בטוי, נשבע להיטיב לאחרים הטבה שבידו לעשותה כגון שידבר עליו לשלטון או יכבדנו שבועה חלה עליו, ואם עבר ולא עשה חייב משום שבועת ביטוי.

18

One who takes an oath not to eat matzah for a year or two is forbidden to eat matzah on the nights of Pesach.46 If he eats it, he is liable, for violating a sh'vuat bitui. This is not considered as an oath taken in vain, since he did not take an oath [specifically] not to eat matzah on the nights of Pesach. Instead, he included the times when eating matzah is a matter of choice together with those when it is a mitzvah. Since the oath takes effect with regard to the other days, it also takes effect with regard to Pesach. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations,47 e.g., one took an oath not to sit in the shade of a sukkah forever,48 or not to wear a garment for a year or two.49

יח

נשבע שלא יאכל מצה שנה או שנתים, הרי זה אסור לאכול מצה בלילי הפסח ואם אכל חייב משום שבועת ביטוי, ואין זה שבועת שוא שהרי לא נשבע שלא יאכל מצה בלילי הפסח אלא כלל עתים שאכילת מצה בהם רשות עם עת שאכילתה בו מצוה ומתוך שחלה שבועה על שאר הימים חלה על ליל הפסח, וכן כל כיוצא בזה, כגון שנשבע שלא ישב בצל סוכה לעולם או שלא יעלה עליו בגד שנה או שנתים.

19

If one took an oath that he put on tefillin that day or did not put them on, or wrapped himself in tzitzit or did not wrap himself in them, he is taking a sh'vuat bitui with regard to the past.50 For he is describe something which happened. He is not taking an oath whether to fulfill or not to fulfill a mitzvah.

יט

נשבע שהניח תפילין היום או לא הניח, שנתעטף בציצית או לא נתעטף הרי זה שבועת ביטוי לשעבר, שזה מגיד דבר שנעשה ולא נשבע על המצוה לא לקיימה ולא לבטלה.

20

If a person took an oath that he will not sleep for a three-day period, he will not eat for seven days, or the like, it is an oath taken in vain.51 We do not say that the person should remain awake until he is overcome by pain or fast until he is overcome by pain and [only] when he no longer has the strength to bear [the suffering], eat or sleep.52 Instead, he is liable for lashes53 immediately for taking an oath in vain. He may eat and sleep whenever he desires.54

כ

נשבע שלא יישן שלשת ימים, או שלא יאכל כלום שבעת ימים וכיוצא בזה שהיא שבועת שוא, אין אומרין יעור זה עד שיצטער ויצום עד שיצטער ולא יהיה בו כח לסבול ואח"כ יאכל או יישן אלא מלקין אותו מיד משום שבועת שוא ויישן ויאכל בכל עת שירצה.

21

When a person takes an oath that he saw a camel flying in the sky and when questioned: "How could you have taken an oath in vain?", he responded: "I saw a huge bird and because of its size, I called it a camel. This was my intent," [his words] are of no consequence. For when all people mention a camel that is their intent. His intention is nullified because of that of people at large55 and he is liable for lashes.56 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

כא

נשבע שראה גמל פורח באויר, אמרו לו היאך נשבעת לשוא ואמר עוף גדול ראיתי ומגדלו קראתיו גמל וכך היה בדעתי אין זה כלום, שאין כל אדם קוראין גמל אלא לגמל ובטלה דעתו אצל כל אדם ולוקה וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

22

It is a known matter to the sages who are masters of wisdom and knowledge that the sun is 170 times greater than the earth.57 [Nevertheless,] if one of the common people takes an oath that the sun is greater than the earth, he is not liable for taking an oath in vain.58 For even though this is the fact, this concept is not known to people at large, only to great sages. One is liable [for an oath taken in vain] only when he takes an oath concerning a matter that is known and obvious to three ordinary people, e.g., [an oath that] a man is a man or a stone is a stone.

Similarly, when he takes an oath that the sun is smaller than the earth, he is not liable for lashes [for an oath taken in vain] although this is not the reality. For this matter is not known to all people.59 Such a person is not comparable to one who takes an oath that a man is a woman. For he took the oath according to his perception, for the sun looks small. Similar laws apply to other comparable concepts from the reckoning of the factors determining the calendar, astronomy, geometry, and other abstract concepts of the like that can be perceived only by other people.

כב

דבר ידוע אצל החכמים בעלי שכל ומדע שהשמש גדולה מן הארץ מאה ושבעים פעמים, נשבע אחד מן העם שהשמש גדולה מן הארץ אינו לוקה משום שבועת שוא שאף על פי שהדבר כן הוא אין דבר זה גלוי וידוע לכל העם אלא לגדולי החכמים בלבד, ואינו חייב אלא אם כן נשבע על דבר שגלוי וידוע לשלשה בני אדם משאר העם כגון איש שהוא איש ואבן שהוא אבן, וכן אם נשבע שהשמש קטנה מן הארץ אינו לוקה, ואף על פי שאין הדבר כן מפני שאין זה ידוע לכל אדם ואינו כמי שנשבע על האיש שהוא אשה שהרי לא נשבע אלא על ראיית עיניו שהרי הוא רואה אותה קטנה וכן כל כיוצא בזה מדברי חשבון תקופות מזלות וגימטריאות וכיוצא בהן מדברי חכמה שאין ניכרין אלא לאנשים אחרים..

Footnotes
1.

Although the concept of a sh'vuat bitui applies both with regard to the past and the future (Chapter 1, Halachah 2), it is not necessary that every sh'vuat bitui have both a past and a future component.

2.

As the Rambam continues to explain, the oath is not necessarily false, because the other people may do what he postulated. Rashi (Sh'vuot 25a) considers this a false oath. The Siftei Cohen 236:4 quotes Rashi's view.

3.

The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh point out several difficulties with the Rambam's words. Firstly, in Hilchot Sanhedrin, the Rambam does not make such statements explicitly. The only mention of a warning of a doubtful status is in Hilchot Sanhedrin 16:4. From those statements and those here, it appears that the Rambam considers such a warning as significant. There he does not explain the distinction of whether the prohibition is explicitly mentioned in the Torah or not. Also, the prohibition against taking a false oath is explicitly mentioned in the Torah. The Radbaz explains that the intent is that the concept that such an oath is considered as having been taken in vain is not explicit in the Torah and may not be known by an ordinary person.

4.

As stated in Chapter 2, Halachah 1, whenever one responds Amen to a colleague's oath, he is bound by it.

5.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 236:2) mentions two opinions. One emphasizes that the one who took the oath must certainly fulfill it. For example, if one takes an oath to marry a woman, the oath is considered as having been taken in vain, because the woman may not consent. Nevertheless, if she does consent, the man should keep his word and marry her. The other, however, does not consider this as an oath taken in vain, but rather as a false sh'vuat bitui.

6.

The Ma'aseh Rokeach maintains that even if the involved parties fulfill the oath, the person taking it is given stripes for rebellious conduct, for he should never have taken such an oath.

7.

For in these instances, he has no control over the other person's actions.

8.

For he did not know of Shimon's actions.

9.

The Tur questions the Rambam's ruling, focusing on the difference between an oath (sh'vuah) and a vow (neder). When taking an oath, a person causes his own person to be prohibited against performing a particular action. To use yeshivah terminology, it is an issur gavra; the prohibition is on the person. When taking a vow, by contrast, he places the prohibition on the object. It is an issur cheftzah.

Now when a person takes a vow against a colleague benefiting from his property, there is no difficulty, because he is placing the prohibition on the property. How can he, however, place a prohibition on a colleague's person? How can his oath take effect?

The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 236:3; albeit using slightly different wording). The Turei Zahav 236:7 explains that the Rambam follows the principal stated by the Ramban that an oath expressed using the wording of a vow and a vow expressed using the wording of an oath is binding. The Radbaz, puzzled by the same difficulty, states that this refers to an instance where the colleague answered Amen to the oath.

10.

E.g., earth or spoiled foods.

11.

The Radbaz explains that he is eating them, not because he considers them as food, but in order to quench his pangs of hunger.

12.

An animal that died without ritual slaughter.

13.

An animal with a blemish that would cause it to die within twelve months.

14.

Since he is already forbidden to partake of these entities by the oath taken by the Jewish people as a whole at Sinai, the oath he takes is of no significance (Sh'vuot 22b). See Halachah 11.

The Radbaz emphasizes that this exclusion applies only with regard to entities forbidden by Scriptural Law, but not those forbidden by Rabbinic Law. For in such an instance, he is not bound by the oath taken by our people at Sinai.

15.

Rabbenu Nissim explains the difference between this and the first clause as follows: In the first clause, we assume that the not eating, he referred to in his oath was not eating foods that people usually eat. These articles were not included in his oath, for there is no reason to forbid them. In the second instance, he included everything that he considers as food in his oath.

16.

Even before he took his oath.

17.

As the Torah states: "Cursed is the man who will not observe the words of this Torah" (Deuteronomy 27:26).

18.

The Radbaz explains that although the Rambam maintains that there is a Scriptural prohibition against eating even less than the measure for which one is liable (Hilchot Ma'achalot Asurot 14:2), this is not considered a matter for which one is bound by an oath from Sinai. For that oath includes only those matters which are explicitly mentioned by the Torah and this prohibition is not. There are, however, other Rishonim who do not makes such a distinction. See Siftei Cohen 238:6.

19.

The oath takes effect, because, as stated in the previous halachah, for this quantity, he is not bound by an oath from Sinai. The Radbaz states that preferably, he should have this oath nullified. Nevertheless, if that is not possible, it is preferable for him to keep the oath and violate the Scriptural commandment.

20.

On the other hand, perhaps, he is not liable, for since he mentioned "eating" in his oath, we assumed that he meant an olive-sized portion.

21.

Perhaps he is liable for, as mentioned above, since such articles are not usually eaten, he may be held liable even for eating less than the usual amount or perhaps we require an olive-sized portion.

22.

As stated in Numbers 6:4.

23.

As stated in Halachah 11.

24.

See Chapter 4, Halachah 1.

25.

I.e., in addition to violating the prohibition against forbidden foods.

26.

We do not say he is required to eat the two together.

27.

Chapter 4, Halachah 11.

28.

Substances explicitly forbidden by the Torah.

29.

This oath does not take effect, because an oath cannot take effect with regard to an object bound by another oath. Since the entire Jewish people are bound by the oath taken at Sinai not to partake of these substances, no other oath involving these entities can take effect (Kessef Mishneh).

30.

Were the person to have taken an oath to eat the forbidden substance, he would be taking an oath in vain, for his oath would be to nullify one of the Torah's mitzvot. In this instance, however, he is taking an oath to fulfill the mitzvah. This is permitted. See Nedarim 8b; Chapter 11, Halachah 3.

31.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 6.

32.

For the oath is considered as having been taken in vain at the moment it was uttered (see Rashi, Sh'vuot 29b).

33.

Due to his first oath.

34.

As stated in the previous halachah.

35.

I.e., within the time period he specified in the oath; alternatively, after the loaf was destroyed or eaten by others. As long as the loaf continues to exist, however, he may fulfill his oath.

36.

For his first oath is binding.

37.

Due to his first oath, as above.

38.

For the reasons stated in Halachah 11.

39.

As stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 6.

40.

For these are all mitzvot that he is required to fulfill.

41.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 178) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 122) count this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. See Hilchot Edut 1:1.

42.

Nor is he liable for taking an oath in vain, for at the time he took the oath, it was not in vain. And one may take an oath to observe the mitzvot, so his intent was desirable (Radbaz).

43.

I.e., since performing any one of these acts violates one of the Torah's prohibitions, taking an oath to perform such an act is equivalent to taking an oath to nullify a mitzvah. Nevertheless, the Rambam prefaces his ruling with the words "It appears to me" - which indicate a ruling based on his own deductive processes - for, in prior Rabbinic sources, the statement that taking an oath to nullify a mitzvah is considered taking an oath in vain were made with regard to prohibitions between man and God and these are prohibitions between man and man.

44.

Hilchot Chovel UMazik 5:1 states that a person may not injure himself. Nevertheless, since this prohibition is not explicitly stated in the Torah, it is not considered as one is taking an oath to nullify a mitzvah (see Halachah 7) and the oath takes effect (Radbaz).

45.

If, however, it is not in his capacity to perform this favor, he is liable for taking an oath in vain, but not for failing to fulfill a sh'vuat bitui (Radbaz).

Performing deeds of kindness fulfills a mitzvah. Nevertheless, since the specific deeds are not explicitly mentioned in the Torah as mitzvot, the violation of an concerning them is considered as a false sh'vuat bitui.

46.

When we are commanded to eat matzah. The mitzvah applies only on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan and not throughout the holiday.

47.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 236:5, quoting the Maharam of Padua, Responsa 74) emphasizes that this ruling only applies with regard to positive commandments, but not with regard to the Torah's prohibitions. Thus if a person took an oath that he would eat all types of meat, we do not say that since the oath takes effect with regard to the kosher meat, it also takes effect with regard to the non-kosher meat.

48.

And thus the oath also prevents one from fulfilling the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah on Sukkot.

49.

The Radbaz interprets the oath as preventing the person from fulfilling the mitzvah of tzitzit. Nevertheless, as the Radbaz himself notes, this interpretation is somewhat problematic, because there is no Scriptural mitzvah to wear tzitzit each day. Instead, the mitzvah is that if one is wearing a four-cornered garment, one must attach tzitzit to it. See Hilchot Tzitzi 3:11. Others interpret this as referring to priests who take such an oath and thus are prevented from wearing the priestly garments while serving in the Temple. As stated in Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 10:4, wearing such garments is a mitzvah.

50.

And he is liable if the oath is false.

51.

For there is no way that he can keep his word. Thus from the moment he uttered the oath, it was uttered in vain (Radbaz). See Chapter 1, Halachah 7.

52.

The Kessef Mishneh quotes Rabbenu Nissim who questions the similarity between the two instances. It is impossible that a person will not sleep for seven days. He will fall asleep whether he desires to or not. Hence, he should not even try to remain awake. With regard to eating, by contrast, seemingly, the person should wait until he reaches a dangerous state and then he should be allowed to eat.

Based on the commentary of the Tzaphnat Paneach, it is possible to explain the differences in approach as follows: According to Rabbenu Nissim, the prohibition is lifted because of the danger, but it is not nullified entirely. Hence, when a person takes an oath on a matter that involves danger, we lift the prohibition, but only after we have waited until the danger is acutely felt. Hence, the oath not to eat is not necessarily a false oath. The oath not to sleep, by contrast, is definitely false, because it is impossible that he will not sleep.

According to the Rambam, by contrast, since there is danger to life involved, the prohibition is nullified entirely. Hence, even the oath not to eat is considered to have been taken in vain.

53.

Our translation is based on the commentary of the Radbaz. Even if there is no court to administer this punishment to him, he may eat and sleep whenever he desires. When he is brought before the court, they will subject him to punishment.

54.

For the oath is not considered to have taken effect at all.

55.

Because the meaning of phrases used by people at large determines the ruling with regard to oaths and vows (Radbaz).

56.

For taking an oath in vain.

57.

Actually, according to the scientific data available at present, the sun is far larger than this. Some have tried to reconcile the Rambam's statements with this data by explaining that the Rambam is speaking about the actual mass of the sun and not the burning energy on its surface. See Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 10, p. 180.

58.

I.e., one might think that since this is the reality, taking such an oath is considered an oath in vain. The Rambam is clarifying that since people at large may not be aware of this fact, it is not placed in that category.

59.

The Radbaz states that even if the person taking the oath knows that the sun is larger than the earth, he is not liable for taking an oath that is smaller, for people at large do not know this fact.

Shvuot - Chapter 6

1

[The following rules apply when] a person took a sh'vuat bitui1 and [then] regretted having taken the oath. If he sees that he will suffer if he upholds this oath and his intent changes or a factor occurred that was not in his intent originally when he took the oath and he changed his mind because of this, he may appeal2 [to be released from his oath] from one sage3 - or from three ordinary people4 in a place where there are no sages. His oath is repealed and he is permitted to perform the matter that he took the oath not to do or not to do the matter that he took an oath to do. This is called the release of an oath.

א

מי שנשבע שבועת ביטוי וניחם על שבועתו וראה שהוא מצטער אם יקיים שבועה זו ונהפכה דעתו לדעת אחרת, או שנולד לו דבר שלא היה בדעתו בשעת השבועה וניחם בגללו, הרי זה נשאל לחכם אחד או לשלשה הדיוטות במקום שאין שם חכם ומתירין לו שבועתו, ויהיה מותר לעשות דבר שנשבע שלא לעשותו, או שלא לעשות דבר שנשבע לעשותו, וזהו הנקרא היתר שבועות.

2

This provision has no source in the Written Law.5 Instead, we learned from Moses our teacher through the Oral Tradition that the phrase [Numbers 30:3]: "He should not desecrate his word" means that he himself should not abuse it in a frivolous and brazen manner, as [Leviticus 19:13] states: "[For] you will desecrate the name of Your God."6 Nevertheless, if a person changed his mind and retracted, a sage may release him [from the oath].7

ב

ודבר זה אין לו עיקר כלל בתורה שבכתב, אלא כך למדו ממשה רבינו מפי הקבלה שזה הכתוב לא יחל דברו שלא יחלל הוא בעצמו דרך קלות ראש בשאט נפש כענין שנאמר וחללת את שם אלהיך, אבל אם ניחם וחזר בו חכם מתיר לו.

3

It is not possible for a person to release himself from his own oath. A person does not have the license to release an oath or a vow in a place where there is a person whose knowledge surpasses his own.8 In a place where his teacher is found, he may only release a vow with the consent of his teacher.

ג

ואין אדם יכול להתיר שבועת עצמו, ואין אדם רשאי להתיר שבועה או נדר במקום שיש גדול ממנו בחכמה, ובמקום שיש בו רבו אסור לו להתיר אלא מדעת רבו.

4

The person who took the oath - whether male or female - must himself come before the sage to be released. He may not appoint an agent to seek that he be released from his vow.9 A husband may, however, become an agent to express his wife's regret and we release [the oath] for her.10 [This applies] provided the three judges had already gathered together. He should not, however, gather them together at the outset to release her [oath].11 Nor may he serve as an agent to have his wife's vow released.12

ד

זה שנשבע הוא שיבא לפני החכם להתיר לו בין איש בין אשה, ואינו עושה שליח להשאל לו על נדרו, והבעל נעשה שליח לחרטת אשתו ומתירין לה ובלבד שיהיו השלשה מקובצים אבל לא יקבץ אותן להתיר לה לכתחלה, ואינו נעשה שליח להתיר נדר לאשתו. 51

5

How do we release [an oath]? The person who took the oath must come before the distinguished sage or three ordinary people if there is no expert.13 He says: "I took an oath concerning this and this and I have changed my mind. If I knew that I would feel such discomfort concerning this, I would not have taken the oath. If, at the time of the oath, my understanding was as it is now, I would not have taken the oath."

The wise man or the foremost among the three asks: "Have you already changed your mind?"

He answers: "Yes."

He then tells him: "It is permitted for you," "It is released for you," "It is absolved for you," or the like with this intent in any language.14

If, however, he says: "[The oath] is nullified for you," "Your oath is uprooted," or anything with that intent, his statements are of no consequence, because only a husband or a father can nullify an oath.15 A sage, by contrast, may use only an expression conveying release or absolution.16

ה

כיצד מתירין יבוא הנשבע לחכם המובהק או לשלשה הדיוטות אם אין שם מומחה, ואומר אני נשבעתי על כך וכך ונחמתי, ואילו הייתי יודע שאני מצטער בדבר זה עד כה או שאירע לי כך וכך לא הייתי נשבע ואילו היתה דעתי בעת השבועה כמו עתה לא הייתי נשבע, והחכם או גדול השלשה אומר לו וכבר נחמת, והוא אומר לו הן, חוזר ואומר לו שרוי לך או מותר לך או מחול לך וכל כיוצא בענין זה בכל לשון, אבל אם אמר לו מופר לך או נעקרה שבועתך וכל כיוצא בענין זה לא אמר כלום, שאין מיפר אלא הבעל או האב אבל החכם אינו אומר אלא לשון התרה ומחילה.

6

Relatives are acceptable to release vows17 and oaths.18 [Oaths and vows] can be released at night19 and while standing,20 for this release is not a judgment.

For this reason, one may request a release of an oath or a vow on the Sabbath21 if it is necessary for the Sabbath,22 for example, to release his oath so that he can eat and drink today. Even if the person had the opportunity to have his oath or vow released before the Sabbath [and did not], he may have it released on the Sabbath, because it is necessary for the Sabbath.

ו

הקרובים כשרים להתיר נדרים ושבועות, ומתירין בלילה ומעומד, שאין ההיתר הזה דין, לפיכך נשאלין לשבועות ולנדרים בשבת אם היו לצורך השבת, כגון שיתירו לו שבועתו כדי שיאכל וישתה היום, ואפילו היה לו פנאי להתיר שבועתו או נדרו מערב שבת הרי זה מתיר בשבת הואיל והוא לצורך השבת.

7

When Reuven administered an oath to Shimon and [Shimon] answered Amen23 or accepted the oath, if Shimon [later] regrets the oath and asks for it to be released, it should not be released except in the presence of Reuven24 who administered it to him.25

Similarly, if Reuven took an oath or a vow not to benefit from Shimon or that Shimon may not benefit from him and changed his mind and appealed to a sage [for the oath or vow to be released], we do not release him from it except in the presence of Shimon from whom he had vowed not to benefit. Even if Shimon was a minor or a gentile,26 [the oath or vow] is released only in his presence so that the person concerning whom the vow was taken will know that the person had his vow or oath released and thus he will benefit from him.27

ז

ראובן שהשביע לשמעון וענה אמן, או קבל השבועה ונחם שמעון על שבועתו ונשאל עליה, אין מתירין לו אלא בפני ראובן שהשביעו, וכן אם נשבע ראובן או נדר שלא יהנה משמעון או שלא יהנה בו שמעון ונחם ונשאל לחכם אין מתירין לו אלא בפני שמעון שנדר ממנו הנייה ואפילו היה שמעון קטן או עכו"ם אין מתירין לו אלא בפניו כדי שידע הנידר שהתיר זה נדרו או שבועתו ולפיכך יהנה ממנו או יהנה לו.

8

Both a person who took an oath in private and one who took one in public - even one who took an oath in God's ineffable name, [swearing] by God, the Lord of Israel - may appeal for a release of his oath if he changes his mind.28

If, however, one took an oath or a vow based on the understanding of many others,29 it may not be released30 except for a purpose associated with a mitzvah.31

ח

אחד הנשבע בינו לבין עצמו ואחד הנשבע ברבים, ואפילו נשבע בשם המיוחד בה' אלהי ישראל וניחם הרי זה נשאל על שבועתו ומתירין לו, נשבע על דעת רבים או שנדר על דעת רבים אין מתירין לו לעולם אלא לדבר מצוה.

9

What is implied? One took an oath and made his oath dependent on the understanding of others that he would not benefit from so-and-so at all and the people of that city needed someone to teach them the Torah, to circumcise their sons, or to perform ritual slaughter on their behalf and they only found this person,32 he may ask a sage or three ordinary persons [to release him from his oath]. We release his oath. He may perform these mitzvot on their behalf and he may receive his wage33 from the people concerning whom he had taken an oath that he would not benefit from them.

ט

כיצד נשבע ותלה שבועתו בדעת רבים שלא יהנה בפלוני לעולם והוצרכו בני אותה העיר ללמוד תורה או למי שימול את בניהם או שיזבח להם ולא נמצא אלא זה בלבד הרי זה נשאל לחכם או לשלשה הדיוטות ומתירין לו שבועתו ועושה להם מצות אלו ונוטל שכרו מאותן האנשים שנשבע שלא יהנה מהם. 52

10

[The following laws apply when] a person took an oath, did not regret it, and came to the court to carry out his oath. If the judges saw that releasing this oath will lead to a mitzvah and to peace between a husband and his wife or between a man and his associates and carrying it out will lead to transgression and strife, they encourage him [to take] the option [of having the oath released].34 They discuss the matter with him, pointing out the consequences of his oath until he regrets [having taken it].35 If he changes his mind because of their words, we release his oath. If he does not change his mind and persists in his stubbornness, he must carry out his oath.

י

מי שנשבע ולא ניחם על שבועתו ובא לבית דין לקיים שבועתו, אם ראו הדיינין שהיתר שבועה זו גורם למצוה ולשלום בין איש לאשתו בין אדם לחבירו ושקיום שבועה זו גורם לעבירה ולקטטה פותחין לו פתח ונושאין ונותנין עמו בדבר ומודיעין לו דברים שגורמת שבועתו עד שיתנחם, אם ניחם בדבריהם מתירין לו ואם לא נחם ועמד במריו הרי זה יקיים שבועתו.

11

What is implied? A person took an oath that he would divorce his wife, that Jews would not benefit from his property, that he would not eat meat or drink wine for thirty days or the like, they tell him: "My son, if you divorce your wife, you will cause malicious gossip to circulate concerning her children36 [for people] will say: 'Why was their mother divorced?' In the future, they will be called: 'the children of the divorcee.' [Moreover,] perhaps she will marry someone else and you will never be able to remarry her"37 and the like.38

[And they say:] "The oath you took that Jews should not benefit from your property [is not to your advantage]. Tomorrow, someone may be in need and [by maintaining your oath,] you will violate [the commandments]:39 "And your brother will live with you and you shall support him" [Leviticus 25:35-36] and "You shall surely open [your hand to him" [Deuteronomy 15:8].

[And they say:] "The oath you took not to eat meat or drink wine for thirty days [is not to your advantage]. [Within that time,] you will encounter a festival and nullify the happiness of the festivals and the pleasure of the Sabbath."40

If he says: "Were I to have known this, I would not have taken the oath," we release him [from the oath]. If he says: "Nevertheless, I have not changed my mind and I desire all of this," we do not release him [from the oath].

יא

כיצד נשבע שיגרש את אשתו או שלא יהנה ישראל מנכסיו או שלא יאכל בשר ושלא ישתה יין שלשים יום וכיוצא בזה אומרים לו בני אם תגרש את אשתך אתה מוציא לעז על בניך ואומרים העם מפני מה נתגרשה אמן של אלו ולמחר קוראים להם בני גרושה ושמא תנשא לאחר ואי אתה יכול להחזירה וכיוצא בדברים אלו, וכן זה שנשבעת שלא יהנה ישראל מנכסיך למחר יצטרך זה ותהיה עובר על וחי אחיך עמך והחזקת בו או פתוח תפתח וכיוצא בהן, וזה שנשבעת שלא תאכל בשר ושלא תשתה יין שלשים יום הרי אתה פוגע ברגל ומבטל שמחת יום טוב ועונג שבת, אם אמר אילו הייתי יודע זה לא הייתי נשבע מתירין לו ואם אמר אף על פי כן לא נחמתי ורוצה אני בכל זה אין מתירין לו.

12

We do not encourage one [to take] the option [of having the oath released] because of something that had not occurred [at the time the oath was taken].41

What is implied? One took an oath not to derive benefit from so-and-so and that person became the city scribe. Since the person did not regret taking the oath, we do not encourage him [to take] the option [of having the oath released]. Even if he himself said: "If I knew that [he would be given this position], I would not have taken this oath," we still do not release him from it. For he does not regret [having taken the oath]. Instead, his desire is that he should not derive benefit from him, but that person not to be appointed the scribe. If, however, on his own initiative, he regretted because of what took place and his intent changed,42 we do release the oath. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

יב

אין פותחין בנולד, כיצד נשבע שלא יהנה בפלוני ונעשה סופר העיר, הואיל ולא ניחם על שבועתו אין פותחין לו בדבר זה, ואפילו אמר הוא מעצמו אילו הייתי יודע לא הייתי נשבע אין מתירין לו הואיל ועדיין לא ניחם אלא רצונו שלא יהנה לו ושלא יעשה זה סופר, אבל אם ניחם הוא מעצמו מפני הנולד ונהפכה דעתו מתירין לו, וכן כל כיוצא בזה. 53

13

When a person takes an oath concerning a matter and then takes a [second] oath that he will never ask to have the [first] oath repealed, [if] he changes his mind, he must first ask that the second oath - that he would never ask to have the oath repealed - be repealed.43 Afterwards, he may ask that the first [oath] be repealed.

יג

מי שנשבע על דבר ונשבע שלא יתיר שבועה זו וניחם, הרי זה נשאל על השבועה האחרונה תחלה שנשבע שלא יתיר ואחר כך ישאל על הראשונה.

14

[The following laws apply if] one took an oath that he would not speak to so-and-so and afterwards, took an oath that if he asks for the repeal of this oath and has it released, he will be forbidden to drink wine forever. If he changes his mind, he must first ask for the repeal of the first oath and have it released. Afterwards, he may ask for the repeal of the second oath. For we may not have a vow or an oath repealed before it takes effect.44 Accordingly, if during Nisan, a person took an oath that he will not eat meat for thirty days beginning at Rosh Chodesh Iyar, [should] he change his mind, he may not have the oath repealed until [the month of] Iyar begins.

יד

נשבע שלא ידבר עם פלוני ונשבע אחר כך שאם ישאל על שבועה זו ויתירה יהיה אסור לשתות יין לעולם וניחם, הרי זה נשאל על השבועה הראשונה ומתירה, ואחר כך ישאל על השניה, שאין מתירין נדר או שבועה שעדיין לא חלו, לפיכך אם היה עומד בניסן ונשבע שלא יאכל בשר שלשים יום מראש חדש אייר וניחם אינו נשאל עד שיכנס אייר.

15

If a person takes an oath that he will not benefit from so-and-so and that he will not benefit from the sage who releases him from this oath, first he must ask for the repeal of the first [oath] and then for that of the second.45

טו

נשבע שלא יהנה לפלוני ושלא יהנה לחכם שישאל לו על שבועה זו, נשאל על הראשונה ואחר כך ישאל על השנייה.

16

If a person takes an oath that he will not benefit from so-and-so and that he will become a nazirite if he asks for the repeal of this oath, first he must ask for the repeal of his oath and then for that of his nazirite vow.46 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

טז

נשבע שלא יהנה לפלוני והרי הוא נזיר אם ישאל על שבועה זו, ישאל על שבועתו תחלה ואחר כך על נזירותו וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

17

[The following rules apply when a person says:] "I am taking [an oath that I will not eat today, [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat today, [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat today," or "With regard to this loaf, [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it, [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it, [I am taking] an oath that I will not eat it." If he asks for the repeal of the first oath and it is released, he is, nevertheless, liable for the second oath.47 Similarly, if he asks for the repeal of the second oath, he is liable for the third oath. If he asks for the repeal of only the third oath, he is liable for the first and second. [Similarly,] if he asks for the repeal of the second oath,48 he is liable for the first.

If so, what is the meaning of the statement: "An oath cannot take effect [when the matter it concerns is already forbidden] by an oath"? That if the person did not repeal [any of] the oaths and ate [the forbidden article], he would be liable only once, as we explained.49

יז

שבועה שלא אוכל היום שבועה שלא אוכל היום שבועה שלא אוכל היום, או שאמר על ככר זו שבועה שלא אוכלנה שבועה שלא אוכלנה שבועה שלא אוכלנה, ונשאל על שבועה ראשונה והותרה הרי זה חייב משום שבועה שנייה, וכן אם נשאל על השניה חייב משום שלישית, נשאל על השלישית בלבד חייב משום ראשונה ושנייה, נשאל על השנייה חייב משום ראשונה [ושלישית], אם כן מפני מה אמרו אין שבועה חלה על שבועה שאם לא נשאל ואכלה אינו חייב אלא אחת כמו שבארנו.

18

When a person takes a sh'vuat bitui regarding the future and violated his oath, e.g., he took an oath that he would not eat a loaf of bread and ate it, if he changes his mind, he may ask a sage to repeal it after eating it before bringing his sacrifice if he [ate it] inadvertently or before he was lashed if he did so willingly. [If the sage] releases the oath, he is exempt from the sacrifice or from the lashes. Moreover, even if they bound him [in preparation for lashes], he asked for the repeal of the oath and it was released before they began to administer lashes, he is exempt.50

יח

מי שנשבע שבועת ביטוי להבא ושיקר בשבועתו, כגון שנשבע שלא יאכל פת זו ואכלה ואחר שאכלה קודם שיביא קרבנו אם היה שוגג או קודם שילקה אם היה מזיד ניחם ונשאל לחכם והתירה לו הרי זה פטור מן הקרבן או מן המלקות, ולא עוד אלא אפילו כפתוהו ללקות ונשאל והתירו לו קודם שיתחילו להלקותו הרי זה פטור.

Footnotes
1.

Kiryat Sefer emphasizes that the concept of repealing an oath applies only with regard to a sh'vuat bitui that involves the future. With regard to a sh'vuat bitui that involves the past, an oath taken in vain, a sh'vuat hapikadon, or an oath regarding testimony, it does not apply. These oaths cannot be repealed for the transgression was performed at the time they were uttered.

More particularly, as the Radbaz explains, there is a difference between a sh'vuat bitui that involves the future and one that involves the past. For when taking a sh'vuat bitui that involves the past as well, as soon as one utters the oath it is false. Nevertheless, he states that it is customary to repeal even this oath to minimize one's punishment.

2.

The Rambam uses the passive form, nishal, rather than the active form sho'el. Tosafot Yom Tov, Shabbat 24:5 explains that form is used because the person asked for the repeal of the oath is asked many questions by the sage.

3.

The sage must be of unique distinction in Torah knowledge to be given the privilege of releasing oaths alone. Nevertheless, he need not have been granted the special semichah extending back to Moses our teacher. For the Torah does not describe the judges with the term elohim in the passage concerning oaths (Rabbenu Nissim).

4.

In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Caro maintains that the Rambam's words can be interpreted simply: Even three ordinary people can perform this function. The Radbaz, by contrast, maintains that the intent is three Torah scholars who are knowledgeable, but are not worthy of being called sages. In his Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 228:1), Rav Caro, however, rules that the three men repealing the oath must be knowledgeable. He also states that in the present age, there are no sages of the stature to repeal an oath alone.

5.

See Chagigah 10a which states: "The release of vows is hanging in the air and they have nothing to depend on."

6.

That verse begins: "You shall not take a false oath in My name."

7.

See also Chapter 12, Halachah 12.

8.

This is an expression of respect for the greater scholar. The Radbaz states that he has not seen this restriction observed and question why this leniency is taken. If the greater scholar grants permission, the lesser scholar may release the oath [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 228:2)]. Nevertheless, after the fact, if a lesser scholar releases an oath even without permission, the release is binding.

9.

Nor may he send a written request to the court (Radbaz). He may, however, use a translator [Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 10:8); Rama (Yoreh De'ah 228:16)].

10.

For a husband and his wife are considered as the same person.

11.

Nedarim 8b explains that if a person takes the effort to gather a court together, we fear that he will also exaggerate his wife's statements and the court's cross-examination of him will not be effective.

12.

I.e., he may not serve as one of the three judges who release the vow [Radbaz; Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:57)]. This interpretation resolves the objection raised by the Ra'avad. Since he is identified with his wife to the extent that he is considered as the same person, he cannot act objectively with regard to her issues.

13.

See Halachah 1.

14.

I.e., he need not make a formal statement in Hebrew.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah, Nedarim 10:8, the Rambam elaborates on this rite:

He tells [the sage or the three ordinary people]: "I took a vow... and I changed my mind."

They ask him the reason he changed his mind and he tells them.... The foremost among the three asks: "At the time, you took the vow, had you known that this and this would occur to you, would you have taken the vow?" And he says: "No."...

He asks him: "Do you regret this oath?" and he says: "Yes."

The foremost of the three addresses him with this wording: "It is permitted for you; it is permitted for you; it is permitted for you. It is absolved for you in the heavenly academy and the earthly academy as it is written (Numbers 15:26): 'And it will be forgiven for the entire congregation of Israel and the stranger who dwells among them for the entire nation has acted inadvertently.'

15.

The Torah gave them this power. See Hilchot Nedarim, Chapter 13, for an explanation of this issue.

16.

The Radbaz explains that the term "nullify" or "uproot" imply being overpowered by a stronger authority without reason. For the woman is placed under the control of her husband or father and with or without reason, he may nullify her oath even against her will. His authority overpowers the oath, as it were. "Permit," "release," or the like, by contrast, imply that a decision is made on the basis of logic and the oath is revoked as if it never existed. See also the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit., where he discusses the differences between these two terms.

17.

Thus two relatives may sit on the same "court" that releases vows on the day preceding Rosh HaShanah.

18.

Although they are not acceptable to serve on the same court with regard to cases of law.

19.

In contrast to judgments of law which may be rendered only during the day.

20.

In contrast to judgments that are rendered while sitting.

21.

When it is forbidden to render judgments (Hilchot Shabbat 23:14).

22.

If, however, it is not for the sake of the Sabbath, it may not be released on the Sabbath, because it is forbidden to perform any activity for the weekdays on the Sabbath (Radbaz). See Hilchot Nedarim 13:8 with regard to the nullification of vows and oaths by a husband or a father.

23.

Which causes the oath to take effect, as stated in Chapter 2, Halachah 1.

24.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 228:20) states that Reuven must "be notified." The Rama maintains that he must also consent to the oath being released. The Shulchan Aruch also states that this law applies only when the oath was taken in response to a favor the person performed for him.

25.

Lest Shimon see Reuven not paying attention to the oath and think that he violated the Torah's prohibition. Alternatively, so that Reuven will be embarrassed and not treat oath and vows frivolously [Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 5:4)].

The Radbaz and the Hagahot Maimoniot state that, after the fact, if Reuven had the oath released outside Shimon's presence, the release is binding. The Radbaz, however, states that if the oath involves financial claims, the person in whose presence the oath was taken must be present.

26.

Who are not obligated in the observance of mitzvot. Nedarim 65a states that since Moses took an oath in the presence of Jethro, his father-in-law, to stay in Midian, he had to have the oath nullified in Jethro's presence. At that time, Jethro was not Jewish.

27.

The standard printed text of the Mishneh Torah concludes "or provide benefit for him." This appears to be a printing error; it is not found in manuscripts or early printings.

28.

I.e., we do not say that since the respect due God's name will be compromised, the oath may not be released.

29.

At least three (Radbaz, based on Gittin 46a).

30.

The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah228:21) state that we may release the oath or vow if those people consent. The Rama states that the oath can never be released. The difference between these rulings depends on the rationale for this decision. Rabbenu Nissim explains that taking an oath based on the understanding of others reinforces the severity of the oath and prevents it from being repealed. Others explain that the person is merely substituting the others for himself. Just as ordinarily an oath is dependent on his own understanding, now it is dependent on that of others.

31.

For we assume the others would agree not to enforce the oath when doing so would prevent the fulfillment of a mitzvah (Tosafot, Gittin 36a).

32.

I.e., the person who took the oath.

33.

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, stating that he misinterpreted the passage from Gittin, loc. cit. The Ra'avad continues, explaining that in the situation described by the Rambam, it is preferable for the person to teach without charging a wage. Moreover, he is not responsible for the Torah education of those children and hence, the motivation to have the oath rescinded is not his.

The Kessef Mishneh supports the Rambam's ruling, noting (see Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:2) that a sage is obligated to teach all the students, not only the members of his family. The Radbaz explains that it is preferable that he work for a wage than do so gratuitously, for a person who does not receive a wage for his work will not apply himself sufficiently.

34.

I.e., they try to influence him to change his mind and express his regret.

35.

The Ma'aseh Rokeach explains that we are talking about a situation in which the person feels uncomfortable with keeping the oath in the future, but does not regret having made it. In such a situation, the oath cannot be repealed (see Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 228:7). Therefore the court, as the Rambam illustrates, explains the negative consequences of the oath so that the person will feel genuine regret.

36.

I.e., people will spread rumors that the children were conceived out of adultery and are illegitimate.

37.

As stated in Hilchot Gerushin 11:12.

38.

For example, Nedarim 66b states that we warn him that paying the woman's ketubah is a significant expense.

39.

See Hilchot Matanot Aniyim 7:1 which mentions these obligations.

40.

See Hilchot Shabbat 30:10; Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 6:16,18 which detail how partaking of these foods leads to the fulfillment of these mitzvot.

41.

The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, explaining that we do encourage the person to ask for the repeal of an oath if the factor that caused the oath was a reasonable probability. To support his argument, he refers to Nedarim 64b which states that God encouraged Moses to nullify his vow not to return to Egypt, telling him that the people who caused him to flee had died. The Talmud explains that the individuals concerned, Datan and Aviram, had not actually died; they merely became impoverished and "a poor person is considered as if he died." Since poverty is a frequent occurrence, it was appropriate for God to encourage Moses to ask to have his oath repealed. The Radbaz explains that the Rambam would also accept this principle, but the Kessef Mishneh differs.

42.

I.e., he regretted taking the oath not to benefit from him, because he realized that he could become the city scribe.

43.

Otherwise, asking for the repeal of the first oath would violate the second oath (Kessef Mishneh).

44.

And the second oath will not take effect until the first oath is released. The Siftei Cohen 228:30 writes that even after the fact, an oath cannot be nullified until it takes effect.

This refers to the repeal of a vow or an oath by a sage. A father or a husband, by contrast, may nullify a vow before it takes effect. See Hilchot Nedarim 12:12.

45.

For as above, the second oath cannot be repealed until it takes effect. See the Radbaz who offers explanations why the Rambam includes this and the following halachah though seemingly they could easily be derived from the previous one.

46.

Even though it is a mitzvah, a nazirite vow can be repealed. See Hilchot Nazirut 3:10.

47.

For even though he is not liable for that second oath until the first oath is repealed, the second oath is not nullified. Instead, it is valid and thus can take effect after the first oath is nullified.

48.

The Rambam maintains that since this oath is prevented from taking effect only because of another oath, one can ask for it to be repealed. Based on this view, the Radbaz maintains that one may have all the relevant oaths repealed with one request. There are, however, other views (the Ramban), who maintain that since the second and third oaths have not taken effect, they cannot be repealed. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 228:46) cites the Ramban's view, while the Siftei Cohen 228:110 mentions that of the Rambam.

49.

Chapter 4, Halachah 10.

50.

Once the court begins administering the lashes, the oath cannot be repealed (Radbaz).

51.

(ואינו) נעשה שליח להתיר נדר אשתו. א"א פירוש שלא מדרך חרטה.

52.

כיצד נשבע ותלה שבועתו בדעת רבים שלא יהנה מבני העיר כלום וכו' ועושה מצות אלו ונוטל שכרו. א"א יש כאן לשון אחר ויש כאן דברים של תימה שאם נשבע המוהל או השוחט שלא יהנה מבני העיר על דעת רבים ימול להם וישחוט בחנם ולא יהנה מהם ומאי מצוה איכא בהיתר נדרו, אבל ודאי אם הוא צריך למעשה ידיו ואם יתעסק במלאכתו לא יוכל למול להם ולשחוט ודאי יתירו לו את נדרו ויפרנסוהו מפני חסרון המצוה, ואם נשבעו אנשי העיר שלא יהנו ממנו הרי יכול למול וללמד את בניהם בחנם. נוסחא אחרת מזאת ההשגה - מכיר אני האמת עם אותם שאמרו המעתיק מלשון ללשון צריך שיהיה בקי בדבר מאד ושיהיה בקי בשתי הלשונות, הנה ראיתי זה המחבר עשה עצמו מעתיק לשון גמרא אל לשון עברית ובמליצה אחרת וטעה במליצתו כי הגמרא שלנו היא שנדרו בני העיר שלא יהנה אותו המלמד מנכסיהם והוא לא היה רוצה ללמד אלא בששר /בשכר/ וכשראו שלא מצאו מלמד יפה כמוהו התיר להם אמימר את נדרם אע"פ שנדרו ע"ד רבים שפתח להם המצוה פתח לנדרם שאמרו אילו היינו יודעים שלא נמצא כמוהו בשום שכר לא היינו נודרים וזה אינו רוצה ללמדנו ואין דעת שום אדם עולה לומר אעפ"כ אני נודר, אבל מה שכתב המתרגם הזה שהמלמד נדר שלא יהנה מהם כאשר לא ימצאו מלמד כמותו אי זה פתח יהיה לנדרו שיהנה מהם בלמודו ילמד אותם בחנם ותהיה מצותו יפה ולא תיבטל המצוה אבל אם לא יוכל לחיות אא"כ יעסוק באומנות או ילמוד בשכר אפשר שיהיה זה פתח לנדרו אילו הייתי יודע שלא ימצאו כמוני לא הייתי נודר שהייתי סבור לחיות באומנות ואחיה זולתם והם ימצאו כמוני, עכ"ז אין דעתי נוחה הימנו שאין המצוה מוטלת עליו להיות להם מלמד או לבקש להם מלמד מומחה.

53.

אבל אם ניחם הוא מעצמו וכו'. א"א נולד שאמרו אין פותחין בו בנולד שאינו מצוי אבל בנולד המצוי פותחין כדאמרינן שכיח אפיקורי דמצערי רבנן וכי ההיא דאמרינן עניות שכיחא טפי ממיתה ומשום הכי פתח ליה הקב"ה למשה בשבועתיה בעניות דדתן ואבירם ודוקא בשאין באין לו מדרך חרטה שאינו מתחרט אלא מפני ענין שאינו יוצא לו כרצונו מפני הנדר ואומר לו אילו היית יודע שיקרה לך מקרה זו בנדרך הייתי נודר בזה אנו אומרים אם המקרה ההוא מצוי מתירין לו דכיון שהוא מצוי ואילו היה באותה שעה לא היה נודר רואין אותו המקרה כאילו היה בשעת הנדר ולא ידע אותו הנודר בענין שנעשה הנדר בטעות אבל כשהוא בא מדרך חרטה אין כאן לדקדק שהרי הוא עוקרו מעיקרו שהוא אומר כעס היה בלבי או עצבות באותה שעה ועכשיו עבר ממני ונתרציתי ואני מתחרט על אותו הכעס, ומה שכתב הוא אינו ברור, ע"כ.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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