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Nedarim - Chapter 1, Nedarim - Chapter 2, Nedarim - Chapter 3

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Nedarim - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Nedarim

They contain 3 mitzvot: two positive commandments and one negative commandment. They are:

1. To heed the utterances of one’s mouth and to carry out one’s vow;
2. Not to desecrate one’s word;
3. To nullify a vow or an oath; this is the law concerning the nullification of oaths explicitly stated in the Torah.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

רמב"ם הלכות נדרים - הקדמה

הלכות נדרים. יש בכללן שלש מצות, שתי מצות עשה, ואחת מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:

א) שישמור מוצא שפתיו ויעשה כמו שנדר.
(ב) שלא יחל דברו.
(ג) שיפר הנדר או) השבועה, זהו דין הפרת נדרים המפורש בתורה שבכתב.

וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו.

1

There are two categories of vows: The first is to forbid oneself [from benefiting] from entities permitted to him;1 e.g., he said: "The produce from this-and-this country is forbidden to me for 30 days" or "...forever." "This type of produce is forbidden to me" or "This produce is forbidden." Regardless of the language in which the prohibition is stated,2 they become forbidden to him, even though there is no oath at all, nor did it mention God's name or a term used to describe Him.3 Concerning this, the Torah [Numbers 30:3] states: "To cause a prohibition to take effect upon his soul," i.e., to cause permitted entities to become forbidden to him. Similarly, such a vow takes effect if he says: "They are forbidden to me." I call this category: "vows involving prohibitions."

א

הנדר נחלק לשתי מחלוקות החלק הראשון הוא שיאסור על עצמו דברים המותרים לו כגון שיאמר פירות מדינה פלונית אסורין עלי כל שלשים יום או לעולם או מין פלוני מפירות העולם או פירות אלו אסורין עלי בכל לשון שיאסור הרי זה נאסר בהן ואע"פ שאין שם שבועה כלל ולא הזכרת שם ולא כנוי ועל זה נאמר בתורה לאסור אסר על נפשו שיאסור על עצמו דברים המותרים וכן אם אמר הרי הן עלי איסר הרי אלו אסורין וחלק זה הוא שאני קורא אותו נדרי איסר:

2

The second category is to obligate himself for a sacrifice that he is not required to bring. For example, he said: "I obligate myself [to bring] a burnt offering," "I obligate myself to bring a peace offering," "...a meal offering," or "This animal is a burnt offering," or "...a peace offering."

When he says: "I obligate myself [to bring]...", this is called a vow.4 When he says: "This is...", it is called a donation.5 Donations and vows are of the same type [of pledges], but [the one making the pledge] is responsible for a vow.6With regard to a donations, by contrast, he is not responsible.7 Concerning these the Torah states [Deuteronomy 12:17]: "Your vows which you pledge and your donations...." This category, I refer to as "vows of sanctification."

ב

והחלק השני הוא שיחייב עצמו בקרבן שאינו חייב בו כגון שיאמר הרי עלי להביא עולה או הרי עלי להביא שלמים או מנחה הרי בהמה זו עולה או שלמים והאומר [הרי] עלי הוא הנקרא נדר והאומר הרי זו הוא הנקרא נדבה והנדבה והנדר ממין אחד הוא אלא שהנדרים חייבין באחריותן ונדבות אין חייבין באחריותן ועל זה נאמר בתורה ונדריך אשר תדור ונדבותיך וגו' וחלק זה הוא שאני קורא אותו נדרי הקדש:

3

The laws concerning the first category and its relevant matters are [the subject] we will discuss in these halachot. The laws concerning vows of sanctification and their particulars will be discussed in their appropriate place in Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot.8

ג

ודיני החלק הראשון וענינו הם שאנו מבארים בהלכות אלו אבל דיני נדרי הקדש ומשפטיהם כלם יתבארו במקומם בהלכות מעשה הקרבנות:

4

It is a positive commandment of Scriptural origin for a person to carry out his oath or vow9 whether it be a vow involving prohibitions or a vow of sanctification, as [Deuteronomy 12:23] states: "Heed the utterances of your mouth and do as you vowed." And [Numbers 30:3] states: "He shall act in accordance with all that he uttered with his mouth."10

ד

מצות עשה של תורה שיקיים אדם שבועתו או נדרו בין שהיה מנדרי איסר בין שהיה מנדרי הקדש שנאמר מוצא שפתיך תשמור ועשית כאשר נדרת ונאמר ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה:

5

When a person forbids himself from partaking of a particular type of food, e.g., he said: "Figs are forbidden to me," "Figs from such-and-such a country are forbidden to me," "These figs are forbidden to me," or the like, if he partakes of any amount of them, he is liable for lashes according to Scriptural Law,11 as [Numbers, Ibid.] states: "He shall not desecrate his word."

There is no minimum measure [for the desecration of] a vow, for by taking a vow [not to partake of] a substance, it is as if one explicitly stated that he would not partake of even the slightest amount.12 If one said: "It is forbidden for me to eat the produce of this-and-this country" or "...to eat these fruit," he does not receive lashes unless he partakes of an olive-sized portion.

ה

האוסר על עצמו מין ממיני מאכל כגון שאמר תאנים אסורין עלי או תאנים של מדינה פלונית אסורים עלי או תאנים אלו אסורין עלי וכיוצא באלו ואכל מהן כל שהוא לוקה מן התורה שנאמר לא יחל דברו שאין לנדרים שיעור שכל הנודר מדבר הרי זה כמפרש כל שהוא אמר אכילה מפירות מדינה פלונית אסורין עלי או אכילה מפירות אלו אינו לוקה עד שיאכל כזית:

6

If a person forbade himself from eating figs and grapes - whether in two vows or in one - the two can be combined to make up the measure of an olive-sized portion.13 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ו

אסר על עצמו אכילה מן התאנים ואכילה מן הענבים בין בנדר אחד בין בשני נדרים הרי אלו מצטרפין לכזית וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

7

When a person says: "This produce is considered like a sacrifice," or he tells a colleague: "Everything that I partake of with you is a sacrifice,"14 "...like a sacrifice," "or considered like a sacrifice for me," they are forbidden to him. For it is possible that a person will make a vow for a sacrifice and make an animal that is ordinary a sacrifice and thus be forbidden for him.15

ז

האומר פירות אלו עלי קרבן או שאמר הרי הם כקרבן או שאמר לחבירו כל מה שאוכל עמך עלי קרבן או כקרבן או הרי הן עלי קרבן הרי אלו אסורין עליו מפני שאפשר שידור אדם קרבן ויעשה בהמה שהיתה חול קרבן ותאסר:

8

If, however, a person says: "This produce is considered for me...", "This type of produce is considered for me...", "What I will eat with so-and-so will be considered as pig meat," "...as a false deity," "...as nevelot and trefot," or the like, they are permitted and no vow takes effect. [The rationale is that] it is impossible for a person to make something that is not pig meat as pig meat.16

ח

אבל האומר פירות אלו עלי או מין פלוני עלי או מה שאוכל עם פלוני עלי כבשר חזיר או כעכו"ם או כנבלות וטרפות וכיוצא באלו הרי אלו מותרין ואין כאן נדר שאי אפשר שיעשה דבר שאינו בשר חזיר כבשר חזיר:

9

This is the general principle [that applies] whenever anyone attempts to have permitted entities considered as forbidden entities: If he could have endowed that forbidden entity with its status by taking a vow,17 [the permitted entities] are forbidden. If he cannot endow it with its status by taking a vow,18 [the permitted entities] remain permitted.

ט

זה הכלל כל המשים דברים המותרים כדברים האסורים אם אותו דבר האסור יכול לעשותו בנדר הרי אלו אסורים ואם אינו יכול לעשותו בנדר הרי אלו מותרין:

10

Sin-offerings and guilt-offerings cannot be brought as vows or as donations, as will be explained in the appropriate place.19 Nevertheless, it is possible for a person making a vow to offer them as a result of his vow. For a person who takes a nazirite vow must bring a sin offering,20 and if he becomes impure,21 he must bring a guilt offering, as will be stated.22 Accordingly, when one says: "This produce is considered for me like a sin-offering" or "...like a guilt-offering," or he says: "It is a sin-offering" or "It is a guilt-offering," it is forbidden. Needless to say, if he says: "It is a burnt-offering," "...a peace-offering," "...a meal-offering," or "...a thanksgiving-offering," it is forbidden, for all of these offerings can be brought as vows or as donations.23

י

החטאת והאשם אף על פי שאינן באין בנדר ונדבה כמו שיתבאר במקומו אפשר לנודר להביא אותם מחמת נדרו שהנודר בנזיר מביא חטאת ואם נטמא מביא אשם כמו שיתבאר לפיכך האומר פירות אלו עלי כחטאת או כאשם או שאמר הרי הן חטאת או הרי הן אשם הרי אלו אסורין ואין צריך לומר באומר הרי הן עולה או שלמים או מנחה או תודה שהן אסורין שכל אלו באין בנדר ונדבה:

11

If, however, one says: "This produce is considered for me like the challah [brought] to Aaron" or "...like the terumah for him,"24 it is permitted. For there is no way that these can be brought as vows or as donations.25

יא

אבל האומר פירות אלו עלי כחלת אהרן או כתרומתו הרי אלו מותרין שאין שם דרך להביא אלו בנדר ונדבה:

12

If one says: "This produce is considered for me like notar,"26"...like piggul,"27 or "...like sacrificial meat that has become impure,"28 it is forbidden. For the person has, nonetheless, made the substance like sacrificial meat.29

יב

האומר הרי הפירות האלו עלי כנותר כפגול כבשר טמא של קדשים הרי אלו אסורין שהרי עשאן כבשר קרבן מכל מקום:

13

If one says: "[This produce] is considered for me like the tithe-sacrifice of an animal,"30 it is forbidden, for the sanctity [of the tithe-sacrifices] is conveyed upon them by mortals.31 If he says: "[This produce] is considered for me like a firstborn,"32 it is permitted, for the sanctity [of the firstborn] is not conveyed by mortals.33It cannot be designated [for another sacred purpose] with a vow, as [Leviticus 27:26] states: "A man should not consecrate it."34

יג

האומר הרי הן עלי כמעשר בהמה הרי אלו אסורין הואיל וקדושתו בידי אדם הרי הן עלי כבכור הרי אלו מותרין שאין קדושתו בידי אדם ואינו יכול להתפיסו בנדר שנאמר לא יקדיש איש אותו:

14

If one says: "[This produce] is considered for me like a devotion offering for Above,"35 it is forbidden, for the devotion offering for Above are [set aside] for improvements within the Temple.36

[A vow takes effect and produce] becomes forbidden although the person did not mention a sacrifice [if he makes any of the following statements]: "[This produce] is considered for me like the donations for the chamber,"37 "...like the daily sacrifices," "...like the storage rooms,"38 "...like the wood,"39 "...like the fire-offerings,"40 "...like the altar," or "...like any of the utensils of the altar," e.g., he said: "[This produce] is considered for me like the altar rakes,"41 "...like the ewers [for the blood of the sacrifices],"42 "...like the altar forks,"43 or the like. [This law also applies] if he says: "This produce] is considered for me like the Temple,"44 "...like Jerusalem."45 [The rationale is that] all of these statements are similar to saying: "[This produce] is considered for me like a sacrifice."

יד

אמר הרי הן עלי כחרמי שמים הרי אלו אסורין שחרמי שמים לבדק הבית הרי הן עלי כתרומת הלשכה כתמידים כדירים כעצים כאשים כמזבח או כאחד ממשמשי המזבח כגון שאמר הרי הן עלי כיעים כמזרקות כמזלגות וכיוצא בהן וכן האומר הרי הן עלי כהיכל כירושלים הרי אלו אסורין ואף על פי שלא הזכיר שם קרבן שכל דברים אלו ענינם כאומר הרי הן עלי קרבן:

15

[When there was] sacrificial meat - even meat from a peace offering whose blood had been poured [on the altar] which is permitted to non-priests - before a person and he said: "[This produce] is considered for me like this meat," it is forbidden. [The rationale is that] he attached [his vow] to the fundamental element of the meat, and that was forbidden.46

[Different rules apply if] the meat was from a firstborn sacrifice. If its blood had not been poured [on the altar], [the produce] is forbidden.47 If it had been poured, it is permitted.

טו

היה לפניו בשר קדש אפילו היה בשר שלמים אחר זריקת דמים שהוא מותר לזרים ואמר הרי הן עלי כבשר זה הרי אלו אסורין שלא התפיס אלא בעיקרו שהיה אסור אבל אם היה בשר בכור אם לפני זריקת דמים הרי זה אסור ואם לאחר זריקת דמים הרי זה מותר:

16

There are places where people are inarticulate and mispronounce words, calling subjects by different names. [In those places,] we follow the meaning of the local term.

What is meant by the statement that all the terms used for the word korban, "sacrifice," are equivalent to the term korban? When one says: "[This produce] is considered for me like a konam," "...a konach," or "...a konaz," they are all terms referring to a korban. Cherek, cheref, and cherech are all terms referring to a cherem (dedication offering).

Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. We follow the language used by people at large in that place and at that time.48

טז

יש מקומות שאנשיהם עלגים ומפסידין את הלשון ומכנין על דבר בדבר אחר הולכין שם אחר הכנוי כיצד כל כנויי קרבן כקרבן האומר הרי הן עלי קונם קונח קונז הרי אלו כנויין לקרבן חרק חרף חרך הרי אלו כנויין לחרם וכן כל כיוצא בזה הולכין אחר לשון כלל העם באותו מקום ובאותו זמן:

17

Just as a person can make a vow forbidding entities to himself with such terms, so, too, if he consecrates an entity with such terms, the entity is consecrated. Nicknames for such terms,49 however, are not binding50 whether for vows involving prohibitions or vows involving the consecration of property.

יז

וכשם שאוסר עצמו בכנויין כך אם הקדיש בכנויין הרי זה הקדש וכנויי הכנויין מותרין בין בנדרי איסר בין בנדרי הקדש:

18

If a person tells a colleague: "Whatever I eat from your [property] will not be like ordinary food," "...will not be kosher," or "...will not be pure,"51 it is as if he told him: "Everything that I eat from your [property] will be like a sacrifice,"52 which is forbidden. Similarly, if he tells him: "Everything that I eat from your [property] will be an impure [sacrifice]," "...notar," or piggul,"53 it is forbidden.

יח

האומר לחבירו מה שאוכל עמך לא יהא חולין או לא יהא כשר או לא יהא דכי או לא יהא טהור הרי זה כמי שאמר לו כל מה שאוכל עמך יהא קרבן שהוא אסור וכן אם אמר לו כל מה שאוכל עמך טמא או נותר או פגול הרי זה אסור:

19

When a person tells a colleague: "Not ordinary food will I not eat from your [property]," it is as if he told him:54 "What I will eat from your [property] will not be like ordinary food, but instead, like a sacrifice."55

Similarly, if he tells him: "The sacrifice if I eat from your [property]," "A sacrifice if I eat from your [property]," or "Like a sacrifice if I eat from your [property]," he is forbidden [to eat from his property].56 If, by contrast, he tells him: "The sacrifice I will not eat from your [property]," "Like a sacrifice, I will not eat from your [property]," "For a sacrifice, I will not eat from your [property]," "A sacrifice I will not eat from your [property]," or "Not a sacrifice, I will not eat from your [property]," he is permitted in all of these instances.57 For all of these expressions do not have any implication other than he is taking an oath by a sacrifice that he will not eat from his [property] and taking an oath on a sacrifice is not binding. Alternatively, [his intent can be interpreted] as taking a vow that he will not partake of a sacrifice with him.

יט

האומר לחבירו לא חולין לא אוכל לך הרי זה כמי שאמר לו מה שאוכל לך לא יהא חולין אלא קרבן וכן אם אמר הקרבן שאוכל לך קרבן שאוכל לך כקרבן שאוכל לך הרי זה אסור אבל האומר הקרבן לא אוכל לך או כקרבן לא אוכל לך או לקרבן לא אוכל לך או קרבן לא אוכל לך או לא קרבן לא אוכל לך כל אלו מותרים שאין משמע דברים אלו אלא שנשבע בקרבן שלא יאכל לזה והנשבע בקרבן אינו כלום או שנדר שלא יאכל לו קרבן:

20

[If he tells him:] "Ordinary food, I will eat from your [property]," "The ordinary food, I will eat from your [property]," "Like ordinary food, I will eat from your [property]," "Ordinary food, I will not eat from your [property]," "The ordinary food, I will eat not with you," "Like ordinary food, I will not eat from your [property]," it is permitted for him [to eat from his property].58

כ

חולין שאוכל לך החולין שאוכל לך כחולין שאוכל לך חולין שלא אוכל לך החולין שלא אוכל לך כחולין שלא אוכל לך הרי זה מותר:

21

If, by contrast, he says: "No impure [sacrifices] will I eat from your [property]," "No notar, will I eat from your [property]," or "No piggul will I eat from your [property]," he is forbidden. [The vow takes effect, because] the intent of his statements appears to be: "What I will eat will be piggul or impure. Therefore, I will not eat from your [property]."59

כא

אבל האומר לא טמא שאוכל לך לא נותר שאוכל לך לא פגול שאוכל לך אסור שמשמעו של דבר דבר שאוכל הוא שיהיה פגול או טמא לפיכך לא אוכל לך:

22

[If he says:] "By the Temple, I will eat from your [property]," "The Temple, I will eat from your [property]," or "No Temple, I will eat from your [property]," [the vow is effective,60 and] it is forbidden. "The Temple, I will not eat from your [property]," "Like the Temple, I will not eat from your [property]," or "No Temple, I will not eat from your [property]," he is permitted.61 For this is like taking an oath by the Temple, that he will not eat from his [property]. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

כב

בהיכל שאוכל לך היכל שאוכל לך לא היכל שאוכל לך אסור היכל שלא אוכל לך כהיכל שלא אוכל לך לא היכל שלא אוכל לך מותר שזה כמי שנשבע בהיכל שלא יאכל לך וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

23

When a person tells a colleague, "I am taking a vow from you," his statement implies that he will not speak with him.62 "I am separate from you" implies that he will not do business with him. "I am distant from you" implies that he will not sit within four cubits of him. That same implication is conveyed by telling him: "I am ostracized from you" or "I am banned from you."63

If, however, says "I am taking a vow from you in that I will not eat from your [property]," "I am separate from you in that I will not eat from your [property]," or "I am distant from you in that I will not eat from your [property]," he is forbidden to eat from his [property].64 If he eats an olivesized portion [of food] from any of his property, he is liable for lashes for [violating the prohibition]: "He shall not desecrate his word."

כג

האומר לחבירו מודר אני ממך משמע דבר זה שלא ידבר עמו מופרש אני ממך משמעו שלא ישא ויתן עמו מרוחק אני ממך משמעו שלא ישב בארבע אמותיו וכן אם אמר לו מנודה אני לך או משמתנא ממך אבל אם אמר לו מודר אני ממך שלא אוכל לך או מופרש אני ממך שלא אוכל לך או מרוחק אני ממך שלא אוכל לך הרי זה אסור לאכול ואם אכל כזית מכל נכסיו לוקה משום לא יחל דברו:

24

If he tells him: "I am ostracized from you in that I will not eat from your [property]," he may not eat from his [property, but] if he does, he is not liable for lashes.65 If he tells him: "I have drifted66 from you," he is forbidden to benefit from him.67

כד

אמר לו מנודה אני לך שלא אוכל לך אינו אוכל לו ואם אכל אינו לוקה אמר לו נדינא ממך הרי זה אסור ליהנות:

25

When a person tells a colleague: "Let it be considered for me like the vows of the wicked who make nazirite vows, vows for a sacrifice, and oaths,68 if I eat from your [property]," should he eat [from his property], he is liable for all of the above.69

Similarly, if he says: "Let it be considered for me like the pledges of the upright who make nazirite pledges70 and donations for a sacrifice,71 if I eat from your [property," should he eat from his property,] he is liable.72

כה

האומר לחבירו הרי עלי כנדרי רשעים אם אוכל לך שמנדריהם נזיר וקרבן ושבועה ואכל חייב בכולן וכן האומר הרי עלי כנדבות כשרים שמנדבותם נזיר וקרבן הרי זה חייב:

26

If one says: "Let it be considered for me like the vows of the wicked..." or "...like the pledges of the upright73 that I will eat from your [property]," or "...if I eat from your property," he is forbidden [to do so], even if he did not make an explicit statement.74

If he said: "Like the vows of the upright," his statement is of no consequence, for the upright do not take vows to prohibit things out of anger. If he says: "I am like the vows of the wicked," and a nazirite was passing before him, he is obligated to observe a nazirite vow.75 If he says: "I am responsible, like the vows of the wicked," he is obligated to bring a sacrifice.76 "Like the vows of the wicked, I will not eat from it,"77 he is liable for an oath.78

כו

אמר הרי עלי כנדרי רשעים או כנדבות כשרים שאוכל לך או אם אוכל לך הרי זה אסור אע"פ שלא פירש אמר כנדרי כשרים לא נתחייב בכלום שאין הכשרים נודרים בדרך אסור וכעס אמר כנדרי רשעים הריני והיה נזיר עובר לפניו חייב בנזירות כנדרי רשעים עלי חייב קרבן כנדרי רשעים שלא אוכל ממנו חייב בשבועה:

27

When a person takes a vow by the Torah, i.e., he says: "This produce is considered for me like this,"79 his statements are of no consequence80 and he need not ask a sage to release him from it.81 [An exception is made if] he is a common person so that he will not act frivolously with regard to vows.82

כז

הנודר בתורה כגון שאמר פירות אלו עלי כזו לא אמר כלום ואינו צריך שאלה לחכם אלא א"כ היה עם הארץ כדי שלא ינהגו קלות ראש בנדרים:

28

If one took a vow by what was written in [the Torah], he is forbidden [to partake of the article mentioned in his vow], for [the Torah] contains statements involving prohibitions and vows.83 If he took it in his arm and took an oath on it, it is as if he took a vow by what was written in it.84

כח

נדר במה שכתוב בה הרי זה אסור שהרי כתוב בה איסר ונדר נטלה בידו ונדר בה הרי זה כמי שנדר במה שכתוב בה:

29

When a person tells a colleague: "Let's get up and study a chapter [of Torah]," he is obligated to get up and study.85 Even though he did not use the wording of a vow, this is comparable to a vow.86

כט

האומר לחבירו נשכים ונשנה פרק עליו להשכים ולקרות שזה כמו נדר הוא ואף על פי שלא הוציאו בלשון נדר:

30

When a person tells his wife: "You are considered to me as my mother," "...as my sister,"87 "...as orlah," or "...as mixed species in a vineyard,"88 it is as if one says concerning produce: "May it be like pig meat." Just as he is permitted to partake of that produce, as explained,89 so, too, he is permitted [to engage in relations] with his wife.

If, however, he tells her: "I am taking a vow, forbidding all pleasure from you"90or "The pleasure of relations with you is forbidden to me," she is forbidden to him, as will be explained.91

ל

האומר לאשתו הרי את עלי כאמי או כאחותי או כערלה או ככלאי הכרם הרי זה כאומר על הפירות הרי אלו כבשר חזיר כשם שהוא מותר לאוכלן כמו שביארנו כך מותר באשתו אבל אם אמר לה הריני מודר ממך הניה או הנאת תשמישך אסורה עלי הרי זו אסורה עליו כמו שיתבאר:

Footnotes
1.

For the intent of a vow is not to forbid what the Torah has prohibited, and certainly not to permit what the Torah has prohibited (Radbaz).

2.

I.e., it need not be stated in Lashon HaKodesh (Biblical Hebrew).

3.

As stated in Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:2, an oath must mention God's name or one of the terms used to describe Him.

4.

I.e., he is personally responsible to bring a sacrifice; there is no set animal designated for that purpose.

5.

I.e., the animal is designated to be offered as a sacrifice; there is no obligation on the person.

6.

I.e., if the animal which he originally intended to be sacrificed is lost, he must provide another one, because he accepted personal responsibility. See Halachot 25 and 26 with regard to the distinction between the two terms.

7.

For it was only the one animal that was designated as a sacrifice.

8.

See Chapters 6 and 9 of those halachot which explain the difference between these types of sacrifices. There are also occasional references to such vows in these halachot. See, for example, Halachah 17 of this chapter.

9.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 94) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 575) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

10.

Although there are two different verses which point to the same commandment, they are counted only as one mitzvah. For the verse from Deuteronomy could be interpreted as a reinforcement for the negative commandment mentioned in the following verse and the verse from Numbers can be interpreted as referring only to vows involving prohibitions (Radbaz). In his Hasagot to Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban considers these as two separate mitzvot.

11.

As is the punishment prescribed for the violation of any negative commandment. Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 157) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 407) include this prohibition among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

12.

As evident from the continuation of the Rambam's statements, were the person to have mentioned "eating" in his vow, we would have interpreted the prohibition as involving an olive-sized portion, the minimum measure for eating that applies with regard to other prohibitions. Since he did not, the implication is that even the slightest amount is forbidden. Compare to Hilchot Sh'vuot 4:1.

13.

This does not apply with regard to oaths (Hilchot Sh'vuot 4:8). Even with regard to vows, it applies only when one uses the expression "eating." The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and maintains that the law applies only when the two are included in the same oath. Their difference of opinion revolves around the understanding of Sh'vuot 22a.

14.

I.e., the person wants to forbid himself from eating together with his colleague.

15.

Just as a person cannot partake of a sacrifice until it is offered, so, too, he cannot partake of an entity forbidden by a vow. Just as the consecration of a sacrifice comes about because of a person's vow and his vow is what causes the sacrifice to become forbidden, so too, a vow causes an entity to be forbidden.

See Hilchot Meilah 4:9-10 which explains that with regard to the person forbidden by the vow, the article becomes like consecrated property. Hence, he is obligated to bring a sacrifice in atonement if he benefits from the article.

16.

For these substances are inherently forbidden; they do not become prohibited because of man's statements. An animal consecrated as a sacrifice, by contrast, is inherently permitted. It is only man's statements that cause it to become forbidden.

17.

As a person can cause a sacrifice to become forbidden.

The Rambam is explaining a fundamental principle with regard to vows. A vow becomes effective when a person establishes an equation between an entity (e.g., produce) and another entity (e.g., a sacrifice), provided it is possible for him to cause the latter entity to become forbidden on the basis of his vow alone.

18.

I.e., objects which are inherently forbidden.

19.

See Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 14:8, Hilchot Shegagot 1:1. These sacrifices are required when a person transgresses a prohibition. If he does not transgress, he may not bring such a sacrifice and if he does transgress, he is compelled to do so. Offering it is not dependent on his vow.

20.

Hilchot Nazirut 6:11; 8:1.

21.

Due to contact with a human corpse (ibid. 7:2).

22.

Ibid. 6:11; see also Hilchot Shegagot 9:1.

23.

And thus bringing them is obviously dependent on his making a vow.

24.

Challah refers to a portion that must be separated from dough and given to a priest. Terumah refers to a portion of grain that must be separated and given to a priest. Since they may not be eaten by a non-priest, one might think that they could be the subject of a vow. Aaron is mentioned, because he is the progenitor of the priestly family.

25.

A person is required to separate these portions from his dough or grain. Although the amount he gives and the designation of the priest to whom he gives them is dependent on his will, he is obligated to make the gift. The Ra'avad offers a different rationale for this law.

26.

Sacrificial meat that was left after its prescribed time and hence, forbidden to be eaten.

27.

Sacrifices that were offered with the intent that they be eaten at a time when it was forbidden to do so and hence, become forbidden to be eaten.

28.

And is thus forbidden to be eaten.

29.

It is beyond his capacity to make the object concerning which he is taking a vow bound by any of the prohibitions mentioned. Nevertheless, all of these prohibitions involve sacrificial meat and sacrificial meat is forbidden to be eaten before it was offered in a proper way, because of his oath as above. Hence, the vow can take effect.

30.

As Leviticus 27:32 states, a person must bring every tenth animal born to his herd as a tithe offering. See also Chapter 2, Halachah 9.

31.

Although we are required to separate these offerings, the tithing process through which the holiness is conveyed upon the animal is a result of man's actions.

It is possible to differentiate between such offerings and terumah, for even before the terumah was separated, the grain was not permitted to be eaten, because it was tevel. The animals, by contrast, could have been slaughtered, before the tithe was separated (see Radbaz, quoting Rabbenu Asher).

32.

Which is sanctified from birth and offered as a sacrifice.

33.

Instead, it is sanctified from birth.

34.

The Kessef Mishneh quotes a responsum from the Rambam's son, Rav Avraham who addresses the following question that was posed to him: The prooftext from Leviticus has been interpreted by the Sifri as teaching that a firstborn may not be consecrated as another sacrifice (see Hilchot Temurah 4:11 where the Rambam quotes this concept). Moreover, although the firstborn is intrinsically holy, it is a mitzvah to consecrate it for that sacrifice (quoted by the Rambam in Hilchot Bechorot 1:5), and thus seemingly, the holiness is conveyed upon it by a mortal's actions.

Rav Avraham replies that since the holiness of the firstborn is inherent and it cannot be changed to that of another sacrifice, that is a proof that a vow cannot affect it. With regard to using a first born as the basis for a vow, see also Halachah 15 and notes.

35.

See Hilchot Arachin V'Charamim 6:1 for a description of the nature of this pledge.

36.

And are forbidden to be used for mundane purposes. Thus they represent an entity that was forbidden by man's pledge.

37.

The Hebrew term terumat halishkah refers to the money collected from the half-shekel donations collected from the Jewish people and used for the communal sacrifices offered in the Temple. See Hilchot Shekalim, ch. 2.

38.

I.e., the chambers in the Temple. This and several of the following interpretations are based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 1:3).

39.

For the altar.

40.

I.e., the portions of the sacrifices offered on the Temple altar.

41.

Used to rake the ashes on the altar.

42.

Used to collect the blood from the sacrifices and then pour it on the altar.

43.

Used to move portions of the sacrifices around on the altar's fire, so that they would be consumed by it.

44.

I.e., like the sacrifices offered in the Temple.

45.

Like the sacrifices eaten in Jerusalem.

46.

Since fundamentally, before its blood was poured on the altar, the meat was forbidden, that is the factor that we consider. We do not take into consideration the fact that afterwards it became permitted. This ruling is the subject of an unresolved question in Nedarim 11b. Hence, we rule stringently (Radbaz, Kessef Mishneh).

47.

For then it is forbidden to everyone. Hence one might say that just as his designation of the firstborn causes the meat to be forbidden, making a vow using a firstborn sacrifice as a basis is effective.

This ruling has created difficulty among the commentaries, because in Halachah 13 the Rambam ruled that a firstborn animal cannot be used as the basis of a vow. Similarly, as the Ra'avad points out, the Rambam's ruling does not appear to be consistent with either of the positions mentioned in Nedarim 12b, the source for this halachah. This leads the Kessef Mishneh to conclude that there was a printing error in the text of the Mishneh Torah and the proper version is "[the produce] is permitted." He states that he found an ancient text that reads this way. Similarly, the Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah read in that manner, omitting the last phrase entirely.

The Kessef Mishneh, however, notes that the Rambam's son, Rav Avraham defends the ruling in the existing text of the Mishneh Torah, explaining that there is a difference between a firstborn sacrifice and the meat of a firstborn sacrifice.

48.

For this is representative of the person's intent. Taking this concept further, the Rama Yoreh De'ah 207:1) quotes opinions that maintain that this surely applies to vows made in gentile languages. And conversely, he also mentions views that maintain that if someone makes a vow using the wording of our Sages without understanding what he is saying, it does not take effect.

49.

Nedarim 10b gives examples: miknamna, miknachna, and miknasna.

50.

For they are very distant from the original wording [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 207:1)]. Kin'at Eliyahu states that apparently, they also would not have been recognized universally as having the desired intent.

51.

The Rambam states this expression twice: once in Aramaic and once in Lashon HaKodesh.

52.

I.e., the opposite of ordinary food is sacrificial food that is consecrated. Similarly with regard to his statement about impure food, we assume that his intent is an impure sacrifice in which instance, his vow is effective. Although it is possible that his intent is impure terumah (in which instance, his vow would not be binding), we follow the principle (Chapter 2, Halachah 7): Whenever there is a doubt concerning the effectiveness of a vow, we rule stringently (Rabbenu Nissim).

53.

See Halachah 11 for a definition of these terms.

54.

I.e., we interpret his statement as the Rambam explains.

55.

And hence, forbidden to be eaten (Nedarim 11b).

56.

Even though none of these expressions is precise, they are still close enough to imply that his intent is that he is forbidding eating with his colleague like a sacrifice is forbidden.

57.

I.e., his oath is not binding, for the reasons the Rambam continues to explain.

58.

Because he does not mention a sacrifice in any of these expressions. The Ra'avad mentions that from Nedarim 11a, it would appear that some of these expressions would involve a vow. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh justify the Rambam's rulings.

59.

Based on Nedarim 10b, the Lechem Mishneh explains that we offer this interpretation, because we assume that a person will not make statements unnecessarily. Hence, since his statements could be interpreted as implying a vow, we offer such an interpretation. The Kessef Mishneh struggles with the meaning of the Rambam's words and suggests that perhaps an error crept into the text.

60.

For he is forbidding himself from eating with his colleague, like he is forbidden to partake of the Temple's sacrifices.

61.

Concluding with a negative expression implies that this is his intent, as in Halachah 19 (Radbaz). In this instance as well, the Kessef Mishneh questions the Rambam's wording.

62.

This and the subsequent statements of this clause do not imply that he is forbidden to partake of the other person's food.

63.

For this restriction applies when a person is under a ban of ostracism (see Hilchot Talmud Torah 7:4).

The Turei Zahav 206:1 mentions the opinion of Rabbenu Asher who maintains that these vows are not effective at all.

64.

He may, however, speak to him (Radbaz).

Although the person does not mention the terms "prohibition" or "sacrifice" in his vow, since his intent is obviously to prohibit himself from benefiting from the other person, that prohibition takes effect. This reflects the principle (Nedarim 3a): "The handles of vows are as vows." The intent is that even a statement that, like a handle to a cup, is merely an auxiliary to a vow is binding like a vow itself. See also a responsum authored by the Rambam's son, Rav Avraham, which explains that even when the intent of one's statements are not entirely clear, as in the present instance, they may constitute a vow, provided their intent is somewhat clear. This principle is also quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 206:1).

65.

From Nedarim 7a, it appears that this expression creates an unresolved question whether the one taking the vow was merely promising not to come within four cubits of the other person or whether he intended to forbid partaking of that person's property. Because of the doubt, he is forbidden to partake of the property, but is not given lashes.

66.

The term the Rambam uses relates to the Hebrew words na and nad which mean "wander" and "roam." Nevertheless, Nedarim 7a states that all authorities agree that this expression creates a binding commitment.

67.

Since he does not use the words "eat" or "partake," we assume that he intended to create a more encompassing prohibition.

The Ra'avad differs and maintains that the expression means that he is not allowed to partake of his property in his presence. That interpretation is also discussed by the Kessef Mishneh.

68.

The Rambam is referring to the wording of the Mishnah (Nedarim 1:1). The wicked make vows hastily and moreover, obligate themselves for vows which constitute a commitment incumbent on their person (Halachah 2). See also Chapter 13, Halachah 25, which states that it is undesirable to make vows.

69.

I.e., he must accept a nazirite vow, bring a burnt offering, and is liable for lashes for taking a false sh'vuat bitui.

70.

See Chapter 13, Halachah 23.

71.

The term the Rambam refers to "donations," i.e., animals which the person designates as a sacrifices, but if lost do not create a lien on his person (Halachah 2).

72.

To uphold a nazirite vow and to bring a sacrifice. He is not, however, liable for an oath, because he did not mention an oath in his statements, since the upright do not take oaths casually.

73.

In either case, his statement implies a binding commitment for the wicked make vows and the upright make pledges.

74.

I.e., he did not explicitly attach his vow to a sacrifice. This is another example of "the handles of vows" mentioned above (Radbaz).

75.

Since the nazirite was passing before him, we assume that this was his intent.

76.

This applies even when an animal is not in his sight, for this appears to be his intent (Radbaz).

77.

I.e., a loaf of bread [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 206:4)].

78.

I.e., if he partakes of the food, he is liable for taking a false sh'vuat bitui.

79.

I.e., a Torah scroll.

80.

For the holiness of a Torah scroll is inherent. It is not established by man's actions.

81.

See Chapter 4, Halachah 5, and Hilchot Sh'vuot, ch. 6, which describe this practice.

82.

I.e., the vow is not binding. Nevertheless, we make it appear that it is and require him to seek to be released for the reason stated by the Rambam. See the parallels in Chapter 2, Halachot 12-13 and Hilchot Sh'vuot 12:4-5.

83.

The Rambam's explanation is based on the Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 1:3). With regard to oaths, by contrast, his intent is focused on God's name.

84.

Since he knows what is written in the Torah and is holding it in a reverent manner, we assume that he is not making his statements in vain. Hence, we interpret them as referring to an option for which he would be liable.

85.

Nedarim 8a derives this concept from Ezekiel 3:22-23 which states: "And He said to me: "Arise and go out to the valley and there I will speak to you. I arose and I went out to the valley and there the glory of God was standing." Since God promised to reveal Himself to Ezekiel, He kept his word, appearing even before Ezekiel arrived there.

86.

From Nedarim 8a, it appears that although this statement establishes a binding commitment, it does not have the full power of a vow. The Tur and the Rama (Yoreh De'ah 213:2) consider this statement as an actual vow.

The Rambam's perspective appears to be that a vow involves making an object forbidden. This instance where the person accepts a commitment upon himself bears a closer resemblance to the obligation incurred when making an oath. Nevertheless, since the person did not employ the wording associated with an oath, it is not binding as an oath. Nonetheless, since a mitzvah is involved, a binding commitment is established.

87.

With whom it is forbidden for him to engage in relations.

88.

Of which it is forbidden to partake. See Leviticus 19:23, Deuteronomy 22:9.

89.

Halachot 8-9. See also Chapter 2, Halachah 13.

90.

A man is obligated to give his wife conjugal rights. Hence, he is not allowed to forbid himself from engaging in relations with her. Nevertheless, in this instance, since the vow also involves satisfaction that he could forbid him, it also includes this form of satisfaction.

91.

For he did not forbid relations, but instead, the satisfaction relations bring him. See Chapter 12, Halachah 9.

Nedarim - Chapter 2

1

[The same laws apply] whether one took the vow on his own [volition] or another person states a vow for him and he answers Amen or says something which like Amen implies that he accepts the matter.1

א

אחד הנודר מפי עצמו או שהדירו חבירו ואמר אמן או דבר שענינו כענין אמן שהוא קבלת דברים:

2

A person who takes an oath is not forbidden [to partake of] the entity which he forbade to himself until he makes a verbal statement to that effect2 and his statements must match his intent, as we explained with regard to oaths.3

If, by contrast, one intended to take a nazirite vow and instead, vowed to bring a sacrifice, [intended to vow to bring] a sacrifice and instead, took a nazirite [vow], [intended to take] an oath and instead, [took] a vow, [intended to take] a vow and instead, [took] an oath, intended to say "figs" and instead, said "grapes," both are permitted to him.4 There is no vow.

ב

ואין הנודר נאסר בדבר שאסר על עצמו עד שיוציא בשפתיו ויהיה פיו ולבו שוין כמו שבארנו בשבועות אבל המתכוין לנדור בנזיר ונדר בקרבן בקרבן ונדר בנזיר בשבועה ונדר או שנתכוון לנדור ונשבע או שנתכוון לומר תאנים ואמר ענבים הרי זה מותר בשניהם ואין כאן נדר:

3

When a person takes a vow dependent on the intent of others, it is like he took an oath dependent on the intent of others.5 Similarly, if one takes a vow and retracts6 immediately thereafter or someone rebuked him immediately thereafter and he accepted their statement, he is permitted [to use the article mentioned].7 The laws applying to all these matters with regard to vows are the same as those applying to oaths.8

ג

הנודר על דעת אחרים הרי זה כנשבע על דעת אחרים וכן הנודר וחזר בו בתוך כדי דבור או שמיחו בו בתוך כדי דבור וקבל הרי זה מותר ודין כל אלו הדברים בנדרים כדינן בשבועות:

4

[The following laws apply when] a person issued a stipulation before he made a vow, saying: "I am retracting from any vow that I will take from now until ten years in the future," "They are nullified," or other similar statements, and then took a vow: If he remembered the stipulation at the time he made the vow, the vow is effective, for by taking the vow, he nullified the stipulation.9 If, however, he did not remember the stipulation until after he made the vow, the vow is nullified10 even if [immediately after taking the vow], he brought the stipulation to mind and maintained it. Although he did not verbalize his retraction at the time [he made the vow], the retraction preceded the vow and he verbalized it beforehand.11 There is an authority who rules stringently and says that he must remember the stipulation immediately thereafter taking the vow.12

ד

מי שהתנה קודם שידור ואמר כל נדר שאדור מכאן ועד עשר שנים הריני חוזר בהן או הרי הן בטלים וכיוצא בדברים אלו ואחר כך נדר אם היה זוכר התנאי בשעה שנדר הרי נדרו קיים שהרי בטל התנאי בנדר זה ואם לא זכר התנאי אלא אחר שנדר אף על פי שקבל התנאי בלבו וקיימו הרי הנדר בטל ואע"פ שלא הוציא עתה החזרה בפיו כבר הקדים החזרה לנדר והוציאה בפיו מקודם ויש שמורה להחמיר ואומר והוא שיזכור התנאי אחר שנדר בתוך כדי דבור:

5

[The following rules apply when] one made a stipulation [similar to that mentioned above]13 for a year or for ten years and afterwards took a vow, remembering at the time that he took the vow that he had made a stipulation, but forgetting the subject of that stipulation or what it involved. If [when taking the vow], he said:14 "I am acting according to my original intention,"15 his vow is not effective, for he has nullified it. If he does not make such a statement, he has nullified the stipulation and upheld the vow, for, at the time he took the vow, he remembered that there was a stipulation and, nevertheless, took the vow.16

ה

מי שהקדים את התנאי לשנה או לעשר ואח"כ נדר ונזכר בשעה שנדר שיש לו תנאי ושכח על אי זה דבר התנה וכיצד היה התנאי אם אמר על דעת ראשונה אני עושה אין נדרו נדר שהרי בטלו ואם לא אמר על דעת ראשונה אני עושה כבר בטל התנאי וקיים הנדר שהרי זכר בשעת הנדר שיש שם תנאי ואע"פ כן נדר:

6

There are some of the Geonim who maintain that all of these statements are applicable only with regard to vows and not to oaths,17 but there is an authority who maintains that the laws pertaining to vows and oaths are the same in this regard. Thus one may issue a stipulation nullifying an oath [beforehand] in the same manner as was stated with regard to vows.18

ו

יש מהגאונים שאומרים אין כל אלו הדברים נוהגין אלא בנדרים בלבד לא בשבועות ויש מי שמורה שדין הנדרים והשבועות בעניינות אלו אחד הם וכי יש לו להקדים תנאי לשבועתו כדרך שאמרו בנדרים:

7

[When a person takes] a vow whose object is not clear,19 we rule stringently.20 If he interprets them, there is room for both leniency and stringency.

What does this imply? If one says: "Let this produce be considered as salted meat and as wine poured as a libation for me," we ask him what his intent was. If he explained himself, saying "My intent was that salted meat refers to sacrificial meat21 and wine poured as a libation refers to libations poured on the Temple altar," he is forbidden [to partake of the produce].22 If, however, he says: "My intent was a sacrifice offered to a false deity23 and wine poured as a libation to it," he is permitted.24 If he took the vow without a specific intent, he is forbidden.

ז

סתם נדרים להחמיר ופירושן יש בו להקל ולהחמיר כיצד האומר הרי הפירות האלו עלי כבשר מליח וכיין נסך אומרין לו ומה היה בלבך אם פירש ואמר כבשר מליח של קרבן וכיין שנתנסך על המזבח היה בלבי הרי זה אסור ואם אמר לא היה בלבי אלא תקרובת עכו"ם ויין שנתנסך לה הרי זה מותר ואם נדר סתם הרי זה אסור:

8

Similar principles apply when one says: "This produce is considered as cherem (a dedication offering) for me." If [his intent was] a dedication offering for the upkeep of the Temple, he is forbidden [to partake of the produce].25 If [his intent] was a dedication offering for the priests, he is permitted, because [these offerings] become [the priests'] personal possessions and are not forbidden [to others].26 If [he took the vow] without a specific intent, he is forbidden.

ח

וכן האומר הרי הפירות האלו עלי חרם אם כחרם של בדק הבית אסור ואם כחרמי הכהנים מותר מפני שהן ממון שלהם ואין בה אסור ואם סתם אסור:

9

[If he states:] "May they be considered like the tithes for me," [we investigate his intent. If his intent was] the tithe taken from animals, [it becomes] forbidden, because these are sacrifices that he consecrates through his actions, as we explained.27 [If his intent was] the tithe taken from grain, it is permitted.28 If [he took the vow] without a specific intent, he is forbidden.

ט

הרי הן עלי כמעשר אם כמעשר בהמה אסור מפני שהוא קרבן שהקדישו בידו כמו שבארנו ואם כמעשר דגן מותר ואם סתם אסור:

10

[If he states:] "May they be considered like terumah for me," [we investigate his intent. If his intent was] the money donated for the sacrificial offerings,29 it is forbidden. If his intent was terumah [separated from] the grain heap, it is permitted.30 If [he took the vow] without a specific intent, he is forbidden. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

י

הרי הן עלי כתרומה אם לתרומת הלשכה נתכוון הרי זה אסור ואם לתרומת הגורן נתכוון מותר ואם סתם אסור וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

11

When does the above31 apply? In a place where the terms used have these two possible meanings. In a place where the term cherem without any further definition is used only to refer to the dedication offerings for the upkeep of the Temple,32 if he says: "[This produce is considered] as cherem for me," he is forbidden [to partake of the produce].33 Similarly, if their custom was to use the term cherem without any further definition to refer only to dedication offerings given the priests, he is permitted. Similar concepts apply in all analogous situations, for with regard to vows, we follow the connotations understood by the people in that place in that era.34

יא

במה דברים אמורים במקום שמשמע כל אחד מאלו שם שני ענינות אבל מקום שדרכן שאין קוראים חרם סתם אלא לחרמי בדק הבית בלבד ואמר שם הרי הן עלי חרם הרי זה אסור וכן אם היה דרכן שאין קוראים חרם סתם אלא לחרמי כהנים הרי זה מותר וכן כל כיוצא בזה שאין הולכין בנדרים אלא אחר לשון אנשי אותו מקום באותו זמן:

12

[The ensuing rules apply] in all situations analogous to those exemplified: i.e., situations when a person takes a vow which appears to everyone to involve a prohibition, but he says: "My intent was for this and this specific instance,"35 for example, he takes a vow based on a cherem,36but [afterwards] said: "My intent was a sea cherem, i.e., a fishing net,"37 he took a vow based on an offering, but said: "My intent was an offering brought to the king," He told a colleague: "Myself is like a sacrifice for you," and then explained: "My intent was only to forbid him from [benefiting from] a bone38that I set aside so that I could take a vow as a lark," he took a vow that his wife could not benefit from him and then explained that his intent was his first wife whom he had divorced.

[In all the above situations,] if the person who took the vow was a Torah scholar, he is permitted and he need not ask a sage [for the vow to be released].39 If the one who took the vow is a common person, we make it appear to him that it is a vow, yet we give him an opportunity to ask for its release from another vantage point and then release the vow.40 Whether he is a Torah scholar or a common person, we rebuke him and teach him not to conduct himself in this manner with regard to vows and not to take vows as a lark or a caper.

יב

הנודר בחרם ואמר לא היה בלבי אלא חרמו של ים שהיא המכמורת נדר בקרבן ואמר לא היה בלבי אלא בקרבנות מלכים אמר לחבירו הרי עצמי עליך קרבן ואמר לא היה בלבי אלא לאסרו בעצם שהנחתי לי להיות נודר בו דרך שחוק נדר שלא תהנה לו אשתו ואמר לא היה בלבי אלא אשתי ראשונה שגירשתיה וכן כל כיוצא באלו הדברים שמשמען לכל העם איסור והוא אומר לא נתכוונתי אלא לכך ולכך אם היה הנודר תלמיד חכם הרי זה מותר ואין צריך שאלה לחכם ואם היה עם הארץ מראין בעיניו שזה נדר ושהוא אסור ופותחים לו פתח ממקום אחר ומתירין לו ובין שהיה תלמיד חכם או עם הארץ גוערין בהן ומלמדין אותן שלא ינהגו מנהג זה בנדרים ולא יהיו נודרין דרך שחוק והתול:

13

Similarly, when a person tells his wife: "You are considered as my mother to me," or he says: "Let this produce be considered as pig meat for me," the vow is not effective, as we explained.41 If the person who took the vow was a Torah scholar, he is permitted and he need not ask a sage [for the vow to be released].42 If the one who took the vow is a common person, he must ask a sage [for the vow to be released]. We make it appear to him that his wife is forbidden to him and that the produce is forbidden,43 but we give him an opportunity to ask for its release from another vantage point and then release the vow in order that people not act frivolously with regard to vows.44

יג

וכן האומר לאשתו הרי את עלי כאמי או האומר פירות אלו עלי כבשר חזיר שאין כאן נדר כמו שבארנו אם היה האומר תלמיד חכם אינו צריך שאלה לחכם ואם היה עם הארץ צריך שאלה לחכם ומראין בעיניו שאשתו אסורה ושאותן הפירות אסורין ופותחין לו פתח ממקום אחר ומתירין לו נדרו כדי שלא ינהגו קלות ראש בנדרים:

14

Although declaring property ownerless is not a vow,45 it resembles a vow, for the person is forbidden to retract.

What is meant by declaring property ownerless? A person says: "This property is free for everyone"46 to acquire. It applies to both movable property and landed property.

What is the law [applying to property] declared ownerless? Whoever comes first and acquires it,47 becomes the owner. He acquires it as his own and it becomes his. Even the person who declared the property ownerless has the same rights as others with regard to it. If he comes first and acquires it, it becomes his.48

יד

ההפקר אף על פי שאינו נדר הרי הוא כמו נדר שאסור לו לחזור בו ומה הוא ההפקר הוא שיאמר אדם נכסים אלו הפקר לכל בין במטלטלין בין בקרקעות וכיצד דין ההפקר כל הקודם וזכה בו קנהו לעצמו ונעשה שלו ואפילו זה שהפקיר דינו בו כדין כל אדם אם קדם וזכה בו קנהו:

15

When a person declares his property ownerless [so that it can be acquired by] the poor, but not by the rich, it is not ownerless.49 He must declare it ownerless for everyone like the produce of the Sabbatical year.

When a person declares his servants ownerless, those past majority acquire themselves.50 With regard to those below majority, whoever comes first and takes hold of them acquires them as is the law with regard to other movable property.51

טו

המפקיר לעניים אבל לא לעשירים אינו הפקר עד שיפקיר לכל כשמיטה והמפקיר עבדיו הגדולים קנו עצמן והקטנים כל הקודם והחזיק בהן זכה כשאר המטלטלין:

16

When a person declares landed property ownerless, whoever comes first and manifests his ownership52 over it acquires it.

According to Scriptural Law, even when a person declares his property ownerless in the presence of one person, it becomes ownerless and one is not required to tithe its produce,53 as will be explained in its place.54 According to Rabbinic decree, however, [property] is not ownerless until one declares as such in the presence of three people so that one can acquire it and two can act as witnesses.

Should one say: "This is ownerless and this," there is an unresolved doubt whether the second entity is ownerless.55 If he said: "...and this is like this" or "...and also this," he has associated the second entity [with the first], and it is definitely ownerless.

טז

המפקיר את הקרקע כל הקודם והחזיק בהן זכה דין תורה אפילו הפקיר בפני אחד הרי זה הפקר ונפטר מן המעשרות כמו שיתבאר במקומו אבל מדברי סופרים אינו הפקר עד שיפקיר בפני שלשה כדי שיהיה אחד זוכה אם רצה והשנים מעידים והאומר הרי זה הפקר וזה הרי השני ספק הפקר ואם אמר וזה כמו זה או שאמר וגם זה הרי התפיס השני ויהיה הפקר ודאי:

17

When a person declares his field ownerless and no one else acquires it,56 during the first three days, he may retract.57 After these three days, he may not retract unless he comes first and acquires it.58 He is like one acquiring ownerless property.59 [There is no difference] between him and another person.

יז

המפקיר את שדהו ולא זכה בה אדם כל שלשה ימים יכול לחזור בו אחר שלשה ימים אינו יכול לחזור בו אלא אם כן קדם וזכה בה הרי הוא כזוכה מן ההפקר בין הוא בין אחר:

18

When a person says: "This field is declared ownerless for one day," "...for one week," "...for one month," "...for one year," or "...for one seven-year cycle," he may retract before he or another person acquires it.60 Once it is acquired, whether by the person himself or by someone else, he may not retract.

Why does he have the right to retract before it was acquired? Because this is an uncommon matter. [Generally,] a person will not declare [property] ownerless for a limited time.

יח

האומר שדה זו מופקרת ליום אחד לשבת אחת לחדש אחד לשנה אחת לשבוע אחד עד שלא זכה בה הוא או אחר יכול לחזור בו ומשזכה בה בין הוא בין אחר אינו יכול לחזור בו ומפני מה יש לו לחזור כאן עד שיזכו בה מפני שזה דבר שאינו מצוי הוא שאין אדם מפקיר לזמן קצוב:

19

When a person comes and watches over ownerless property, looking at it so that another person will not take it, he does not acquire it by looking at it. Instead, he must lift it up if it were movable property61 or manifest ownership over it if it were landed property,62 as purchasers acquire property.63

יט

דבר המופקר שבא אחד ושמרו והיה מביט בו שלא יטלנו אדם לא קנהו בהבטה אלא עד שיגביהו אם היה מטלטלין או יחזיק בקרקע כדרך שקונין הלקוחות:

Footnotes
1.

See the parallels in Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:1.

2.

I.e., mere thought is not sufficient. With regard to vows, Numbers 30:7 mentions "the expression of her lips," implying that one must express his intent verbally.

3.

Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:10-12. The latter point is also implied by the prooftext cited above, for the term "expression" implies bringing out something which exists, i.e., revealing one's thoughts. Thus if a statement does not match one's thoughts, it is not an "expression" (Kiryat Sefer).

4.

The figs, because he did not make a statement concerning them and the grapes, because he did not intend to mention them.

5.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:15.

6.

He must state his retraction verbally. It is not sufficient for him to have this intent in his heart [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 210:3)].

7.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17-18. As mentioned there, the term "immediately thereafter" has a specific halachic definition: the time it takes a student to tell his teacher: Shalom Elecha Rabbi. Since he retracts in this short time, it is considered as if the vow was never made.

8.

For Numbers 30:3 associates the two together (Kessef Mishneh). See Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 239:1).

9.

For by taking the vow, he is indicating that he no longer desires to uphold the stipulation (see Nedarim 23b).

10.

Kiryat Sefer explains this ruling as follows: Although Numbers 30:3 states: "He shall not desecrate his word," that applies only to a vow that has taken effect. In this instance, since he forgot his stipulation, it is as if he took the vow in error and it never took effect.

11.

Our translation and bracketed additions are made on the basis of the gloss of the Radbaz.

12.

Otherwise, according to that view, the vow takes effect and the fact that he remembers the stipulation afterwards is not significant. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 211:2) mentions the Rambam's view, but also that of the other authority and states that we should give weight to that authority's view. The Ra'avad also differs with the Rambam and offers another interpretation, stating that the nullification is only effective when he willingly accepts the stipulation immediately after remembering it.

As Nedarim, loc. cit., emphasizes, the most common application of this principle is the declaration customarily made after the release of vows on the day preceding Rosh HaShanah, when we nullify all the vows we will take in the year to come. This is also the source for the Kol Nidrei prayer recited at the beginning of Yom Kippur which nullifies all vows to be taken in the coming year. Note, however, the statement of Rama (Yoreh De'ah 211:1) that we do not rely on this stipulation without going to a sage for a formal annulment of a vow unless a great necessity was involved.

13.

In this instance, he did not nullify all vows that he would make in the future, only those of a certain type, e.g., not to drink wine or eat meat [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 211:3)].

14.

In one of his response, the Radbaz states that this intent need not be verbalized. It is sufficient that he have the intent at heart.

15.

I.e., his intent is that if his original statement is discovered to run contrary to his vow, he desires to follow his original statement.

16.

I.e., he was aware of the possibility that his vow could run contrary to his original statement and took it nonetheless.

17.

For oaths have a more severe dimension, since God's name must be invoked. (See Hilchot Sh'vuot 12:2.) The Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 3:1) would appear to support this approach.

18.

The Radbaz maintains that the Rambam follows this view as evidenced by the fact that he does not include this in the list of matters in which oaths differ from vows (Chapter 3, Halachah 1). The text for the nullification of vows rite recited on the day preceding Rosh HaShanah and the Kol Nidrei prayer mention oaths as well as vows.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 211:4) adds that the nullification of vows in this manner is possible only when one takes a vow on his own initiative, but not when he agrees to a vow proposed by a colleague, for the colleague does not have that person's original stipulation in mind. Thus by agreeing to his colleague's statement, he implies that he is not concerned with his original stipulation.

19.

I.e., he does not know with regard to which prohibition he associated his vow (Rashi, Nedarim 18b).

20.

We say that he associated the vow with an object that causes entities to be forbidden (ibid.). The rationale is that if this was not his intent, he should have remained silent (Radbaz). See also Chapter 9, Halachah 4.

21.

For it was necessary to salt all the sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13).

22.

For when one equates produce with a sacrifice the vow is binding (Chapter 1, Halachot 7, 9).

23.

For the gentiles would also salt their offerings.

24.

For there is no way, he can cause an article to be forbidden as a sacrifice to a false deity through his vow. Hence, when he mentions such an object as the basis of a vow, the vow is not effective (Chapter 1, Halachot 8, 9).

25.

For in such an instance, the articles dedicated to the upkeep of the Temple become consecrated and forbidden for ordinary use until they are redeemed.

26.

Hence an entity that is made equivalent to them is likewise not forbidden.

27.

Chapter 1, Halachah 13.

28.

For the tithe taken from grain is not forbidden to be eaten by ordinary people. Moreover, even according to the opinion of Rabbi Meir who rules that ordinary people may not partake of these tithes, they are not forbidden due to a vow. Instead, it was forbidden to partake of the grain before they were separated and once, they were separated, they remain forbidden (Ritba, Nedarim 18b).

29.

Terumat halishkah in Hebrew. See Hilchot Shekalim, ch. 2, which describes how these funds were collected and used.

30.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 11.

31.

That we explore the person's intention.

32.

Nedarim 18b explains that in the Galilee, it was not common for priests to live. Hence, when a person uses the term cherem there, his intent is a dedication offering for the upkeep of the Temple.

33.

For we assume that his intent was a dedication offering to the Temple, even if he says that his intent was an offering to the priests.

34.

See Chapter 9, Halachah 1.

35.

I.e., a situation where the basis for the vow is a permitted entity and hence, the vow does not take effect.

36.

I.e., he said: "Let this produce be like a cherem."

37.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 2:8), the Rambam cites Chabakuk 1:15 which employs such a term.

38.

The Hebrew word atzmi means "myself," but it can also mean "my bone." Initially, it was thought that the person's intent was that he forbade his colleague from benefiting from his self. He clarified, however, that his intent was "his bone."

39.

His word can be accepted when he says: "This was my intent." Hence, the vow is not effective at all. With regard to the release of vows, see Chapter 4, Halachah 5.

40.

I.e., as stated in the following halachah, this is a safeguard to insure that the common people treat vows with the earnestness required.

41.

Chapter 1, Halachah 30.

42.

For we assume he knows that the vow is of no consequence. Note the Rama (Yoreh De'ah 205:1) who states that in the present age, we consider everyone as a common person with regard to such matters.

43.

The Rama (loc. cit.) states that the person is required to approach a sage only with regard to vows involving his wife, but not with regard to those involving other matters.

44.

If the common person was allowed not to pay heed to his vow, he might take leniency with regard to other vows in the future, including some which would be halachically binding.

45.

This implies that he does not have the potential to retract merely by making a statement (Radbaz, Ketzot HaChoshen 273:1). According to Rabbinic decree, the laws are more stringent with regard to landed property, but this is law in all other instances.

Ketzot HaChoshen discusses whether declaring an object ownerless is merely a retraction of one's own ownership over or does it involves transferring ownership to the person who will ultimately acquire it.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Pe'ah 6:1) explains that the declaration of property as ownerless is derived from the laws of the Sabbatical Year. In the Sabbatical year, this is done by Divine decree and here, by contrast, man declares the property ownerless.

46.

Both the rich and the poor (Nedarim 7a). See the following halachah.

47.

Through a formal act of acquisition (kinyan) as stated in Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 2:1. See Halachah 19.

48.

I.e., it is not like consecrated property for him (Radbaz).

See Hilchot Matanot Aniyim 5:27 which states that in this way, a person frees himself from the obligation to tithe the crops of his field.

49.

This is one of the indications that this declaration is not a vow. For were it a vow, it could be given to the poor alone (Jerusalem Talmud, loc. cit.).

50.

I.e., are set free. Since they are released from their owner's property, they are free to be acquired by anyone and so they acquire themselves. Nevertheless, although the servant becomes his own man at this time, before he becomes a full-fledged member of the Jewish people, he must be given a bill of freedom (Hilchot Avadim 8:13).

51.

Since they are below majority, they do not have an independent financial capacity and hence, cannot acquire themselves. Therefore any other person can acquire them.

52.

Through a formal kinyan, e.g., locking a door or erecting a fence.

53.

Rabbenu Asher and the Rama (Choshen Mishpat 273:7) states that even when one declares property ownerless without anyone else being present, the declaration is binding according to Scriptural Law.

54.

See Hilchot Terumah 2:11; Hilchot Matanot Aniyim 5:27. Tithes are only required to be given from crops that one grew as one's own, not those acquired from ownerless property.

55.

Nedarim 7b raises the question, but does not resolve it. Hence, if the original owner desires to retain possession, we do not expropriate it from him (Sefer Meirat Einayim 273:12).

56.

If, however, another person acquires, it becomes that person's property. The original owner may not retract his declaration (Kessef Mishneh).

57.

According to Scriptural Law and even according to Rabbinic Law with regard to other property, when one declares his property ownerless, the declaration takes effect from the first day and he is forbidden to retract, as stated in Halachah 14. Nevertheless, if he does retract, the retraction is binding.

58.

Our Sages, however, ordained this ruling as a safeguard against people declaring their fields ownerless and then retaking possession of them and in this way, freeing themselves from the responsibility of separating the tithes (Radbaz, Sefer Meirat Einayim 273:13).

59.

And thus he is not liable to separate the tithes (Kessef Mishneh).

60.

I.e., even after three days pass. Since he is not intending to give up ownership entirely, even during the time he is willing to give up ownership, he still has a connection to the article and thus may withdraw his declaration (Radbaz).

61.

Performing the kinyan of hagba'ah. Similarly, other kinyanim are also effective.

62.

Performing the kinyan of chazzakah.

63.

See Hilchot Mechirah 1:3, 3:1.

Nedarim - Chapter 3

1

There are four differences between a vow and a sh'vuat bitui:

a) With regard to a sh'vuat bitui, one oath cannot take effect while another is already in effect,1 and with regard to vows, a vow can take effect while another is already in effect.

b) When one attempts to extend the scope of an oath taken previously, he is not liable,2 and with regard to vows, one is.

c) A sh'vuat bitui can take effect only with regard to actions that are left to one's choice,3 while vows take effect with regard to mitzvot as well as actions that are left to one's choice.

d) A sh'vuat bitui can take effect with regard to entity of substance and an entity that is not of substance, 4 while vows take effect only with regards to entities of substance.

א

ארבעה דברים יש בין נדרים לשבועת ביטוי שבשבועת ביטוי אין שבועה חלה על שבועה ובנדרים יחול נדר על נדר המתפיס בשבועה פטור ובנדרים חייב אין שבועת ביטוי חלה אלא על דברי הרשות ונדרים חלות על דברי מצוה כדברי הרשות שבועת ביטוי חלה על דבר שיש בו ממש ועל דבר שאין בו ממש ונדרים אינן חלין אלא על דבר שיש בו ממש:

2

What is meant by the statement that a vow can take effect while another is already in effect? If a person says: "I will be obligated to bring a sacrifice if I eat this loaf [of bread]," [repeats]: "I will be obligated to bring a sacrifice if I eat it," he is liable [to bring a sacrifice] for every vow that he takes. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ב

כיצד יחול נדר על נדר האומר הרי עלי קרבן אם אכלתי ככר זו הרי עלי קרבן אם אוכלנה ואכלה חייב על כל אחת ואחת וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

3

What is meant by the statement that one who extends the scope of a vow taken previously is liable? He heard his colleague take a vow and said: "And I am like you" immediately thereafter,5 he is forbidden [to partake of] the substance that his colleague deemed forbidden.6 If a third person heard the second person say: "And I am like you," and he also said: "I am like you," [he is also forbidden]. Even if there are one hundred and each one says: "And I am like you" immediately thereafter the statements of the previous one," they are all forbidden.

ג

כיצד המתפיס בנדרים חייב שמע חבירו שנדר ואמר ואני כמותך בתוך כדי דבור הרי זה אסור במה שנאסר בו חבירו שמע השלישי זה שאמר ואני ואמר ואני אפילו היו מאה וכל אחד מהן אומר ואני בתוך כדי דבורו של חבירו הרי כולן אסורין:

4

Similarly, when one says: "This meat is considered forbidden to me,' and even after several days7 says: "This bread is like this meat," [the prohibition] is extended to the bread and it becomes forbidden. If afterwards, he said: "And this honey is like this bread, and this wine is like this honey," even if he mentions 100 [substances], they are all forbidden.

ד

וכן האומר הבשר הזה עלי אסור וחזר ואמר אפילו אחר כמה ימים והפת הזאת כבשר הזה הרי הפת נתפשה ונאסרה חזר ואמר ודבש זה כפת הזאת ויין זה כדבש זה אפילו הן מאה כולן אסורין:

5

[The following rules apply when a person's] father or teacher died on a particular day and he took a vow to fast that day8 and [actually] fasted.9 If after years passed, he said: "Let this day10 be considered as the day on which my father - or my teacher - died," he is forbidden to eat on that day. For he attached this day [to his existing vow] and caused it to be forbidden as the day which is forbidden for him. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ה

הרי שמת אביו או רבו היום ונדר שיצום אותו היום וצם ולאחר שנים אמר הרי יום זה עליו כיום שמת בו אביו או רבו הרי זה אסור לאכול בו כלום שהרי התפיס יום זה ואסרו כיום האסור לו וכן כל כיוצא באלו:

6

What is meant by the statement that vows take effect with regard to mitzvot as well as actions that are left to one's choice? When a person says: "Matzah is forbidden to me on Pesach night," "Dwelling in a sukkah on that holiday is forbidden to me," or "I am forbidden to take hold of tefillin," they are forbidden to him. If he ate matzah, dwelled in a sukkah, or took tefillin, he is liable for lashes.11 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. Needless to say, one who says: "I am obligated to bring a sacrifice if I eat matzah on Pesach night," is obligated to bring a sacrifice.12 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ו

כיצד חלים הנדרים על דברי מצוה כדברי הרשות האומר הרי המצה בלילי הפסח אסורה עליו הרי ישיבת הסוכה בחג הסוכות אסורה עליו והרי התפילין אסורות בנטילה עליו הרי אלו אסורין עליו ואם אכל או ישב או נטל לוקה וכן כל כיוצא בזה ואין צריך לומר במי שאמר הרי עלי קרבן אם אוכל מצה בלילי הפסח שהוא חייב בקרבן וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

7

Why do vows take effect with regard to mitzvot and oaths do not take effect with regard to mitzvot? Because when a person takes an oath he forbids himself from [partaking of] the entity mentioned in the oath.13 When, by contrast, one takes a vow, he causes the entity mentioned in the vow to be forbidden to him.14 Thus when a person takes an oath to nullify a mitzvah, he is placing a prohibition upon himself and he is already bound by an oath [to observe that mitzvah] from Mount Sinai, and one oath does not take effect if another is already in effect. When, by contrast, a person causes an entity to be forbidden through a vow, the prohibition involves the entity itself and that entity is not under oath from Mount Sinai.

ז

ומפני מה נדרים חלים על דברי מצוה ושבועות אין חלות על דברי מצוה שהנשבע אוסר עצמו על דבר שנשבע עליו והנודר אוסר הדבר הנדור על עצמו נמצא הנשבע לבטל מצוה אוסר עצמו וכבר עצמו מושבע מהר סיני ואין שבועה חלה על שבועה והאוסר דבר זה בנדר זה הדבר הוא שנאסר ואותו הדבר אינו מושבע מהר סיני:

8

When you contemplate [the wording of] the Torah, it appears that their interpretation matches the explanation which our Sages received according to the Oral Tradition. For with regard to a sh'vuat bitui, [Leviticus 5:4] states: "Whether he will do harm or do good," i.e., speaking about permitted activities as we explained,15 e.g., whether I will eat or drink today, whether I will fast, or the like. With regard to vows, by contrast, [Numbers 30:3] states: "He shall do everything uttered by his mouth," without differentiating between matters associated with mitzvot and those left to our own volition.

ח

כשאתה מתבונן בכתוב תמצא שהדברים מראין כן כמו שקבלו חכמים מפי השמועה שהרי אומר בשבועת ביטוי להרע או להיטיב בדברי הרשות כמו שבארנו שיאכל וישתה היום או שיצום וכיוצא בהן ובנדרים הוא אומר ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה ולא חלק בין דברי מצוה לדברי הרשות:

9

When a person takes a vow to fast on the Sabbath or a festival, he is obligated to fast16 for vows take effect even when they involve [the nullification of] a mitzvah as explained.17 Similarly, if a person takes an oath to fast every Sunday or every Tuesday throughout his life and a festival or the day preceding Yom Kippur18 falls on that day, he is obligated to fast. Needless to say, this applies with regard to Rosh Chodesh. If, however, Chanukah or Purim fall [on these days], his vow is superceded by [the celebrations of] these days. Since the prohibition against fasting on them is based on Rabbinic decree, reinforcement is necessary.19 Hence, his vow is superceded by the Rabbinic decree.

ט

הנודר שיצום בשבת או ביום טוב חייב לצום שהנדרים חלים על דברי מצוה כמו שבארנו וכן הנודר שיצום יום ראשון או יום שלישי כל ימיו ופגע בו יום זה והרי הוא יום טוב או ערב יוה"כ הרי זה חייב לצום ואין צריך לומר ראש חדש פגע בו חנוכה ופורים ידחה נדרו מפני הימים האלו הואיל ואיסור הצום בהם מדברי סופרים הרי הן צריכין חזוק וידחה נדרו מפני גזירת חכמים:

10

What is meant by the statement that vows take effect only with regards to entities of substance? If one says: "My speech is like a sacrifice for you,"20 he is not forbidden to speak to him, because speech is not an entity of substance. Similarly, if he tells him: "My speech is forbidden to you," it is not like his saying: "my produce is forbidden to you," or "My produce is like a sacrifice for you," in which instance, [the produce] would be forbidden.

Therefore, if a person tells a colleague: "[It is like a vow for] a sacrifice that I will not speak with you," "...that I will not act on your behalf," or "...that I will not go with you," or he told his wife, "[It is like a vow for] a sacrifice that I will not be intimate with you," his vow does not take effect in all these instances. For this is as if he is saying: "My speech, going, actions, or intimacy is like a sacrifice, and none [of these are] entities of substance.21

י

כיצד אין הנדרים חלים אלא על דבר שיש בו ממש האומר דבורי עליך קרבן אינו אסור מלדבר עמו שהדבור אין בו ממש וכן אם אמר לו דבורי אסור עליך אין זה כאומר פירותי אסורין עליך או פירותי קרבן עליך שהן אסורין עליו לפיכך האומר לחבירו קרבן שאיני מדבר עמך או שאיני עושה עמך או שאיני מהלך עמך או שאמר קרבן שאיני ישן שאיני מדבר שאיני מהלך או שאמר לאשתו קרבן שאיני משמשך אין הנדר חל בכל אלו והרי זה כאומר דבורי והלוכי ועשייתי ושמושי קרבן שהן דברים שאין בהן ממש:

11

When, by contrast, a person says: "Let my mouth be forbidden to speak, my hands to act, my feet to walk, and my eyes to sleep," his vow is effective with regard to them.22 Therefore if a person tells a colleague: "My mouth is like a sacrifice with regard to speaking with you, my hands [are so] with regard to acting on your behalf, and my feet [are so] with regard to going with you," he becomes forbidden.

Similarly, one who tells a colleague: "I will be obligated to bring a sacrifice if I speak to so-and-so" or "...if I don't speak to so-and-so," he is obligated to bring a sacrifice if he violates this commitment. Similarly, if he took a vow in which he said: "[If] I spoke [to so-and-so, I must bring a sacrifice]" or "[If] I did not speak..." or the like, [he is liable]. For these are not vows in which he accepts prohibitions upon himself23 whose ground rules we are explaining here, but vows of dedication.24

יא

אבל האומר יאסר פי לדבורו וידי למעשיהן ורגלי להלוכן ועיני לשינתן הרי הנדר חל עליהן לפיכך האומר לחבירו קרבן פי מלדבר עמך וידי מלעשות עמך ורגלי מלהלך עמך הרי זה אסור וכן האומר הרי עלי קרבן אם אדבר עם פלוני או אם לא אדבר עמו ועבר על דברו חייב בקרבן וכן אם נדר דברתי ולא דברתי וכיוצא בהן שאין אלו נדרי איסר שאנו מבארין משפטיהם אלא נדרי הקדש:

12

Although when a person takes a vow concerning entities that are not of substance and forbids them, the vow does not take effect with regard to them, we do not rule that he should act as if they are permitted. [Instead,] since he willingly [took a vow] forbidding them to him, [according to Rabbinic decree]25 the vow took effect with regard to them. Although they are not forbidden, we give him an opportunity [to ask for the vow's release] from another vantage point and then release the vow, so that he will not act frivolously with regard to vows.26

יב

הנודר בדברים שאין בהם ממש ואסרן אע"פ שאין הנדר חל עליהם אין מורים לו שינהוג בהן היתר הואיל ואסר עצמו בהן ובדעתו שהנדר חל עליהן אלא פותחין לו פתח ממקום אחר ומתירין לו נדרו אף על פי שלא נאסר כדי שלא ינהגו קלות ראש בנדרים:

Footnotes
1.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot 4:9-10. The reverse ruling with regard to vows is described in Halachah 2.

2.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:8-9. The reverse rulings with regard to vows are described in Halachot 3-5.

3.

See Hilchot Sh'vuot 5:14-16. The reverse ruling with regard to vows is described in Halachot 6-9.

4.

This concept can be explained as follows: As stated in Halachah 6, an oath creates a prohibition on the person taking the oath (the gavra), i.e., the article is essentially permitted, he has accepted a prohibition on himself not to partake of it. Hence, it is not significant whether the article is of substance or not. With regard to vows, by contrast, the article itself (the cheftzah) becomes forbidden. Hence, for that prohibition to take effect, the article must be of substance (Radbaz). See Halachah 10 for an illustration of how this principle is effective with regard to vows.

5.

This term refers to a specific span of time, the time it takes to say: Shalom Elecha Rebbi (Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17).

6.

I.e., he is extending the scope of his colleague's vow, so that it includes not only his colleague, but he himself.

Here also the concept can be explained according to the above difference. Since an oath involves an obligation on the person taking the oath (gavra), it cannot be extended to include another individual, for each person must take his own oath. With regard to a vow, by contrast, since the prohibition caused by the vow is associated with a substance (cheftzah), another person can also extend the prohibition to himself (Rabbenu Nissim).

7.

In this instance, it is not necessary to make the statement immediately thereafter the first vow. Since the meat is visible before us, one can attach a vow to it. With regard to the previous halachah, by contrast, we are speaking about a subject that cannot be seen. Hence, unless the statements are made immediately after each other, there is no way we can be certain of the meaning of the statement: "And I am like you" (Radbaz).

8.

This is a common practice in many communities.

9.

If, however, he never fasted on that day, he cannot attach another day to this vow (Chazon Yechezkel).

10.

I.e., any given day.

11.

For breaking his vow. The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 215:1) mentions a view that maintains that the person should be given corporal punishment for taking such a vow and should be compelled to ask to have the vow released.

12.

For he can fulfill the mitzvah and bring the sacrifice (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Nedarim 2:2).

13.

I.e., the prohibition involves the gavra, the person himself. It cannot take effect if he is already bound to act otherwise.

14.

I.e., the prohibition involves the cheftzah, the article. Once it is forbidden, it is forbidden to fulfill the mitzvah by partaking of it or using it, for a positive commandment does not supercede a negative commandment. It would be a mitzvah fulfilled through a transgression which is a forbidden act (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit.).

15.

Hilchot Sh'vuot 5:16.

16.

Despite the fact that by doing so he negates the mitzvah of taking pleasure in the Sabbath and festivals. The Ra'avad clarifies that the matter is dependent on the wording he used in his oath. If on the Sabbath, he said: "I will fast today," he is forbidden to keep his vow.

17.

In the three preceding halachot.

18.

When it is a mitzvah to eat in preparation for the fast (Rosh HaShanah 9a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 604:1).

19.

In contrast to the Sabbath and festivals where the obligation to eat is of Scriptural origin. This is a general principle in Talmudic Law. There are times when our Sages gave their decrees greater power than Scriptural Law, for Scriptural Law is revered by the people at large and does not require reinforcement. If, by contrast, Rabbinic Law was abrogated in such instances, it might lead people to take leniencies even when uncalled for (see Ta'anis 17b; Kessef Mishneh). The Radbaz explains that if keeping one's vow was allowed to override a Rabbinic decree, then there would be no point in making such decrees. For people could nullify them by taking vows. For example, a person could take a vow to drink ordinary gentile wine.

The Kessef Mishneh also explains that although the obligation to eat on Rosh Chodesh and the day preceding Yom Kippur is also of Rabbinic origin, since our Sages found an allusion to it in the Torah, it is less likely that people will treat it lightly.

20.

I.e., he takes a vow against the other person listening to his speech.

21.

If, however, he states: "The satisfaction that I receive from any of the above is forbidden," his vow is effective, for the satisfaction is considered substantial. See Chapter 12, Halachah 9.

22.

For these organs are objects of substance (Nedarim 13b).

23.

And apply only to entities of substance.

24.

Which are described in Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot, chs. 6 and 9. See also Chapter 1 where the Rambam makes a distinction between these two types of vows.

25.

See Nedarim 15a. Similarly, in his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 2:1), the Rambam writes that the prohibition against desecrating one's word applies with regard to these vows. Compare to Chapter 4, Halachah 4.

26.

See Chapter 2, Halachot 12-13.

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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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