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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Nedarim - Chapter 2

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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

אֶחָד הַנּוֹדֵר מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהִדִּירוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ וְאָמַר אָמֵן אוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁעִנְיָנוֹ כְּעִנְיַן אָמֵן שֶׁהוּא קַבָּלַת דְּבָרִים:

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

וְאֵין הַנּוֹדֵר נֶאֱסָר בְּדָבָר שֶׁאָסַר עַל עַצְמוֹ עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְיִהְיֶה פִּיו וְלִבּוֹ שָׁוִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת. אֲבָל הַמִּתְכַּוֵּן לִנְדֹּר בְּנָזִיר וְנָדַר בְּקָרְבָּן. בְּקָרְבָּן וְנָדַר בְּנָזִיר. בִּשְׁבוּעָה וְנָדַר. אוֹ שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לִנְדֹּר וְנִשְׁבַּע. אוֹ שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לוֹמַר תְּאֵנִים וְאָמַר עֲנָבִים. הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר בִּשְׁנֵיהֶם וְאֵין כָּאן נֵדֶר:

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

הַנּוֹדֵר עַל דַּעַת אֲחֵרִים הֲרֵי זֶה כְּנִשְׁבָּע עַל דַּעַת אֲחֵרִים. וְכֵן הַנּוֹדֵר וְחָזַר בּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִּבּוּר אוֹ שֶׁמִּחוּ בּוֹ בְּתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִּבּוּר וְקִבֵּל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וְדִין כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים בִּנְדָרִים כְּדִינָן בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת:

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

מִי שֶׁהִתְנָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּדֹּר וְאָמַר כָּל נֵדֶר שֶׁאֶדֹּר מִכָּאן וְעַד עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים הֲרֵינִי חוֹזֵר בָּהֶן אוֹ הֲרֵי הֵן בְּטֵלִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בַּדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָדַר. אִם הָיָה זוֹכֵר הַתְּנַאי בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנָּדַר הֲרֵי נִדְרוֹ קַיָּם שֶׁהֲרֵי בִּטֵּל הַתְּנַאי בְּנֵדֶר זֶה. וְאִם לֹא זָכַר הַתְּנַאי אֶלָּא אַחַר שֶׁנָּדַר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁקִּבֵּל הַתְּנַאי בְּלִבּוֹ וְקִיְּמוֹ הֲרֵי הַנֵּדֶר בָּטֵל. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הוֹצִיא עַתָּה הַחֲזָרָה בְּפִיו כְּבָר הִקְדִּים הַחֲזָרָה לַנֵּדֶר וְהוֹצִיאָהּ בְּפִיו מִקֹּדֶם. וְיֵשׁ שֶׁמּוֹרֶה לְהַחְמִיר וְאוֹמֵר וְהוּא שֶׁיִּזְכֹּר הַתְּנַאי אַחַר שֶׁנָּדַר בְּתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִּבּוּר:

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

מִי שֶׁהִקְדִּים אֶת הַתְּנַאי לְשָׁנָה אוֹ לְעֶשֶׂר וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָדַר וְנִזְכַּר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנָּדַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ תְּנַאי וְשָׁכַח עַל אֵי זֶה דָּבָר הִתְנָה וְכֵיצַד הָיָה הַתְּנַאי. אִם אָמַר עַל דַּעַת רִאשׁוֹנָה אֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה אֵין נִדְרוֹ נֵדֶר שֶׁהֲרֵי בִּטְּלוֹ. וְאִם לֹא אָמַר עַל דַּעַת רִאשׁוֹנָה אֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה כְּבָר בִּטֵּל הַתְּנַאי וְקִיֵּם הַנֵּדֶר שֶׁהֲרֵי זָכַר בִּשְׁעַת הַנֵּדֶר שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם תְּנַאי וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן נָדַר:

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

יֵשׁ מֵהַגְּאוֹנִים שֶׁאוֹמְרִים אֵין כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים נוֹהֲגִין אֶלָּא בִּנְדָרִים בִּלְבַד לֹא בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמּוֹרֶה שֶׁדִּין הַנְּדָרִים וְהַשְּׁבוּעוֹת בְּעִנְיָנוֹת אֵלּוּ אֶחָד הֵם. וְכִי יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַקְדִּים תְּנַאי לִשְׁבוּעָתוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאָמְרוּ בִּנְדָרִים:

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

סְתָם נְדָרִים לְהַחְמִיר. וּפֵרוּשָׁן יֵשׁ בּוֹ לְהָקֵל וּלְהַחְמִיר. כֵּיצַד. הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי הַפֵּרוֹת הָאֵלּוּ עָלַי כְּבָשָׂר מָלִיחַ וּכְיֵין נֶסֶךְ. אוֹמְרִין לוֹ וּמֶה הָיָה בְּלִבְּךָ. אִם פֵּרֵשׁ וְאָמַר כְּבָשָׂר מָלִיחַ שֶׁל קָרְבָּן וּכְיַיִן שֶׁנִּתְנַסֵּךְ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ הָיָה בְּלִבִּי הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. וְאִם אָמַר לֹא הָיָה בְּלִבִּי אֶלָּא תִּקְרֹבֶת עַכּוּ''ם וְיַיִן שֶׁנִּתְנַסֵּךְ לָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וְאִם נָדַר סְתָם הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר:

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

וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי הַפֵּרוֹת הָאֵלּוּ עָלַי חֵרֶם. אִם כְּחֵרֶם שֶׁל בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת אָסוּר. וְאִם כְּחֶרְמֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים מֻתָּר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן מָמוֹן שֶׁלָּהֶם וְאֵין בָּהּ אִסּוּר. וְאִם סְתָם אָסוּר:

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

הֲרֵי הֵן עָלַי כְּמַעֲשֵׂר. אִם כְּמַעֲשַׂר בְּהֵמָה אָסוּר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קָרְבָּן שֶׁהִקְדִּישׁוֹ בְּיָדוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְאִם כְּמַעֲשַׂר דָּגָן מֻתָּר וְאִם סְתָם אָסוּר:

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

הֲרֵי הֵן עָלַי כִּתְרוּמָה. אִם לִתְרוּמַת הַלִּשְׁכָּה נִתְכַּוֵּן הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. וְאִם לִתְרוּמַת הַגֹּרֶן נִתְכַּוֵּן מֻתָּר. וְאִם סְתָם אָסוּר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁמַּשְׁמָע כָּל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ שָׁם שְׁנֵי עִנְיָנוֹת. אֲבָל מָקוֹם שֶׁדַּרְכָּן שֶׁאֵין קוֹרְאִים חֵרֶם סְתָם אֶלָּא לְחֶרְמֵי בֶּדֶק הַבַּיִת בִּלְבַד וְאָמַר שָׁם הֲרֵי הֵן עָלַי חֵרֶם הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה דַּרְכָּן שֶׁאֵין קוֹרְאִים חֵרֶם סְתָם אֶלָּא לְחֶרְמֵי כֹּהֲנִים הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה שֶׁאֵין הוֹלְכִין בִּנְדָרִים אֶלָּא אַחַר לְשׁוֹן אַנְשֵׁי אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם בְּאוֹתוֹ זְמַן:

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,36 but [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 bone38 that 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

הַנּוֹדֵר בְּחֵרֶם וְאָמַר לֹא הָיָה בְּלִבִּי אֶלָּא חֶרְמוֹ שֶׁל יָם שֶׁהִיא הַמִּכְמֹרֶת. נָדַר בְּקָרְבָּן וְאָמַר לֹא הָיָה בְּלִבִּי אֶלָּא בְּקָרְבְּנוֹת מְלָכִים. אָמַר לַחֲבֵרוֹ הֲרֵי עַצְמִי עָלֶיךָ קָרְבָּן וְאָמַר לֹא הָיָה בְּלִבִּי אֶלָּא לְאָסְרוֹ בְּעֶצֶם שֶׁהִנַּחְתִּי לִי לִהְיוֹת נוֹדֵר בּוֹ דֶּרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק. נָדַר שֶׁלֹּא תֵּהָנֶה לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאָמַר לֹא הָיָה בְּלִבִּי אֶלָּא אִשְׁתִּי רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁגֵּרַשְׁתִּיהָ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמַּשְׁמָעָן לְכָל הָעָם אִסּוּר וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי אֶלָּא לְכָךְ וּלְכָךְ. אִם הָיָה הַנּוֹדֵר תַּלְמִיד חָכָם הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר וְאֵין צָרִיךְ שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם. וְאִם הָיָה עַם הָאָרֶץ מַרְאִין בְּעֵינָיו שֶׁזֶּה נֵדֶר וְשֶׁהוּא אָסוּר וּפוֹתְחִים לוֹ פֶּתַח מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וּמַתִּירִין לוֹ. וּבֵין שֶׁהָיָה תַּלְמִיד חָכָם אוֹ עַם הָאָרֶץ גּוֹעֲרִין בָּהֶן וּמְלַמְּדִין אוֹתָן שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהֲגוּ מִנְהָג זֶה בִּנְדָרִים וְלֹא יִהְיוּ נוֹדְרִין דֶּרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק וְהִתּוּל:

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

וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר לְאִשְׁתּוֹ הֲרֵי אַתְּ עָלַי כְּאִמִּי אוֹ הָאוֹמֵר פֵּרוֹת אֵלּוּ עָלַי כִּבְשַׂר חֲזִיר שֶׁאֵין כָּאן נֵדֶר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. אִם הָיָה הָאוֹמֵר תַּלְמִיד חָכָם אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם. וְאִם הָיָה עַם הָאָרֶץ צָרִיךְ שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם וּמַרְאִין בְּעֵינָיו שֶׁאִשְׁתּוֹ אֲסוּרָה וְשֶׁאוֹתָן הַפֵּרוֹת אֲסוּרִין וּפוֹתְחִין לוֹ פֶּתַח מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וּמַתִּירִין לוֹ נִדְרוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהֲגוּ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ בִּנְדָרִים:

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

הַהֶפְקֵר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נֵדֶר הֲרֵי הוּא כְּמוֹ נֵדֶר שֶׁאָסוּר לוֹ לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. וּמַה הוּא הַהֶפְקֵר הוּא שֶׁיֹּאמַר אָדָם נְכָסִים אֵלּוּ הֶפְקֵר לַכּל. בֵּין בְּמִטַּלְטְלִין בֵּין בְּקַרְקָעוֹת. וְכֵיצַד דִּין הַהֶפְקֵר. כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם וְזָכָה בּוֹ קָנָהוּ לְעַצְמוֹ וְנַעֲשָׂה שֶׁלּוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ זֶה שֶׁהִפְקִיר דִּינוֹ בּוֹ כְּדִין כָּל אָדָם אִם קָדַם וְזָכָה בּוֹ קָנָהוּ:

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

הַמַּפְקִיר לַעֲנִיִּים אֲבָל לֹא לַעֲשִׁירִים אֵינוֹ הֶפְקֵר עַד שֶׁיַּפְקִיר לַכּל כִּשְׁמִטָּה. והַמַּפְקִיר עֲבָדָיו הַגְּדוֹלִים קָנוּ עַצְמָן. וְהַקְּטַנִּים כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם וְהֶחֱזִיק בָּהֶן זָכָה כִּשְׁאָר הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין:

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

הַמַּפְקִיר אֶת הַקַּרְקַע כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם וְהֶחֱזִיק בָּהּ זָכָה. דִּין תּוֹרָה אֲפִלּוּ הִפְקִיר בִּפְנֵי אֶחָד הֲרֵי זֶה הֶפְקֵר וְנִפְטָר מִן הַמַּעַשְׂרוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. אֲבָל מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים אֵינוֹ הֶפְקֵר עַד שֶׁיַּפְקִיר בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֶחָד זוֹכֶה אִם רָצָה וְהַשְּׁנַיִם מְעִידִים. וְהָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי זֶה הֶפְקֵר וְזֶה. הֲרֵי הַשֵּׁנִי סְפֵק הֶפְקֵר וְאִם אָמַר וְזֶה כְּמוֹ זֶה אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר וְגַם זֶה הֲרֵי הִתְפִּיס הַשֵּׁנִי וְיִהְיֶה הֶפְקֵר וַדַּאי:

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

הַמַּפְקִיר אֶת שָׂדֵהוּ וְלֹא זָכָה בָּהּ אָדָם כָּל שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. אַחַר שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קָדַם וְזָכָה בָּהּ הֲרֵי הוּא כְּזוֹכֶה מִן הַהֶפְקֵר בֵּין הוּא בֵּין אַחֵר:

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

הָאוֹמֵר שָׂדֶה זוֹ מֻפְקֶרֶת לְיוֹם אֶחָד לְשַׁבָּת אַחַת לְחֹדֶשׁ אֶחָד לְשָׁנָה אַחַת לְשָׁבוּעַ אֶחָד עַד שֶׁלֹּא זָכָה בָּהּ הוּא אוֹ אַחֵר יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. וּמִשֶּׁזָּכָה בָּהּ בֵּין הוּא בֵּין אַחֵר אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר בּוֹ. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה יֵשׁ לוֹ לַחְזֹר כָּאן עַד שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ בָּהּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּה דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מָצוּי הוּא שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מַפְקִיר לִזְמַן קָצוּב:

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

דָּבָר הַמֻּפְקָר שֶׁבָּא אֶחָד וּשְׁמָרוֹ וְהָיָה מַבִּיט בּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִטְּלֶנּוּ אָדָם לֹא קָנָהוּ בְּהַבָּטָה אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁיַּגְבִּיהוֹ אִם הָיָה מִטַּלְטְלִין אוֹ יַחֲזִיק בַּקַּרְקַע כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁקּוֹנִין הַלָּקוֹחוֹת:

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 involve 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.

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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 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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