In the name of the Lord, the God of the world.
The freewill offerings of my mouth accept now, O Lord, and teach me Your judgments.

The sixth book which is The Book of Promises

It contains four sets of Halachot and this is their order:

The Laws of Shvuot
The Laws of Nedarim
The Laws of Nezirut
The Laws of Arachim Vacharamim

Introduction to Hilchos Shvuot

They contain 5 mitzvot: one positive commandment and four negative commandments. They are:

1. Not to swear falsely in [God’s] name,
2. Not to take [God’s] name in vain,
3. Not to deny [having received] an entrusted object,
4. Not to swear [falsely] when denying financial obligations,
5. To swear truly in [God’s] name.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

בְּשֵׁם יי אֵל עוֹלָם (בראשית כא לג)
נִדְבוֹת פִּי רְצֵה נָא יי, וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ לַמְּדֵנִי (תהלים קיט קח)

ספר ששי והוא ספר הפלאה

הלכותיו ארבע, וזה הוא סידורן:

הלכות שבועות
הלכות נדרים
הלכות נזירות
ערכים וחרמין

הלכות שבועות - הקדמה

הלכות שבועות. יש בכללן חמש מצות, אחת מצות עשה, וארבע מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:
(א) שלא לישבע בשמו לשקר.
(ב) שלא לישא את שמו לשוא.
(ג) שלא לכפור בפקדון.
(ד) שלא לישבע על כפירת ממון.
(ה) לישבע בשמו באמת. וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו.


There are four types of oaths [for which one may be liable]: sh'vuat bitui, sh'vuat shav, sh'vuat hapikadon, and sh'vuat ha'edut.1

Sh'vuat bitui2 is referred to in the Torah [by Leviticus 5:4]: "When a soul will take an oath, expressing with his lips, whether he will do harm3 or do good." [This category] subdivides into four groupings: two4 [involving statements made] concerning the future and two [involving statements made] concerning the past. For example, he took an oath concerning a past event that it occurred or did not occur, or concerning a future event, that he will do it or that he will not do it.


אַרְבָּעָה מִינֵי שְׁבוּעוֹת הֵן. שְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי וּשְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא וּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן וּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. שְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (ויקרא ה ד) "אוֹ נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תִשָּׁבַע לְבַטֵּא בִשְׂפָתַיִם לְהָרַע אוֹ לְהֵיטִיב". וְהִיא נֶחְלֶקֶת לְאַרְבָּעָה חֲלָקִים. שְׁתַּיִם לְהַבָּא. וּשְׁתַּיִם לְשֶׁעָבַר. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל דָּבָר שֶׁעָבַר שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה. וְעַל דָּבָר שֶׁעָתִיד לִהְיוֹת שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה וְשֶׁלֹּא יֵעָשֶׂה:


[The concept of] a sh'vuat bitui applies with regard to deeds that a person could perform5 whether in the past or in the future.

What is implied? With regard to the past: "I ate," "I cast a stone into the sea," or "So-and-so spoke with so-and-so"; "I did not eat," "I did not cast a stone into the sea," or "So-and-so did not speak with so-and-so." With regard to the future: "I will eat" or "I will not eat," "I will..." or "I will not cast a stone into the sea."6 Thus there are two groupings7 concerning the past and two groupings concerning the future.


וְאֵין שְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי נוֹהֶגֶת אֶלָּא בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתָן בֵּין לְהַבָּא בֵּין לְשֶׁעָבַר. כֵּיצַד לְשֶׁעָבַר. שֶׁאָכַלְתִּי. אוֹ שֶׁזָּרַקְתִּי אֶבֶן לַיָּם. אוֹ שֶׁדִּבֵּר פְּלוֹנִי עִם פְּלוֹנִי. אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא אָכַלְתִּי. אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא זָרַק אֶבֶן לַיָּם. אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא דִּבֵּר פְּלוֹנִי עִם פְּלוֹנִי. כֵּיצַד לְהַבָּא. שֶׁאֹכַל אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא אֹכַל. אוֹ שֶׁאֶזְרֹק אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא אֶזְרֹק אֶבֶן לַיָּם. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שְׁתַּיִם לְשֶׁעָבַר וּשְׁתַּיִם לְהַבָּא:


If a person takes an oath concerning one of these four categories and does the opposite, he has taken a false oath. For example, he took an oath not to eat and he ate, that he would eat and he did not eat, that he ate, when he did not or that he did not eat, when he had eaten. With regard to these matters, [Leviticus 19:12] states: "Do not swear falsely in My name."8 If he willfully swears falsely, he is liable for lashes.9 If he does so inadvertently, he must bring an adjustable guilt offering,10 as [ibid. 5:4] states: "And it became concealed from him and he did not know and became guilty."


נִשְׁבַּע אַחַת מֵאַרְבַּע מַחֲלוֹקוֹת אֵלּוּ וְהֶחְלִיף כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל וְאָכַל אוֹ שֶׁיֹּאכַל וְלֹא אָכַל אוֹ שֶׁאָכַלְתִּי וְהוּא לֹא אָכַל שֶׁלֹּא אָכַלְתִּי וְאָכַל הֲרֵי זוֹ שְׁבוּעַת שֶׁקֶר. וְעַל זֶה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יב) "לֹא תִשָּׁבְעוּ בִשְׁמִי לַשָּׁקֶר". וְאִם נִשְׁבַּע לַשֶּׁקֶר בְּמֵזִיד לוֹקֶה. בְּשׁוֹגֵג מֵבִיא קָרְבַּן עוֹלֶה וְיוֹרֵד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה ד) "וְנֶעְלַם מִמֶּנּוּ וְהוּא יָדַע וְאָשֵׁם" וְגוֹ':


[The prohibition against taking] a sh'vuat shav, an oath taken in vain,11 also subdivides into four categories: the first, a person took an oath concerning a known matter12 that was not true, e.g., he took an oath that a man was a woman, a woman was a man, that a marble pillar was gold, or concerning other similar factors.


שְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא נֶחְלֶקֶת לְאַרְבַּע מַחֲלוֹקוֹת. הָאַחַת שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל דָּבָר הַיָּדוּעַ שֶׁאֵין כֵּן. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל הָאִישׁ שֶׁהוּא אִשָּׁה. וְעַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהוּא אִישׁ. וְעַל עַמּוּד שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ שֶׁהוּא שֶׁל זָהָב. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


The second: that one takes an oath on a known matter concerning which no one has a doubt, e.g., one took an oath that the sky was the sky, that a stone is a stone, on two [objects] that they are two, and the like. Even though there is no doubt about the matter for a person of sound mind, one takes an oath to strengthen [the appreciation of] the matter.13


הַשְּׁנִיָּה שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל דָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ סָפֵק לְאָדָם שֶׁהוּא כֵּן. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל הַשָּׁמַיִם שֶׁהוּא שָׁמַיִם. וְעַל הָאֶבֶן זוֹ שֶׁהִיא אֶבֶן. וְעַל הַשְּׁנַיִם שֶׁהֵם שְׁנַיִם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. שֶׁזֶּה הַדָּבָר אֵין בּוֹ סָפֵק לְאָדָם שָׁלֵם כְּדֵי לְצַדֵּק הַדָּבָר בִּשְׁבוּעָה:


The third is one who takes an oath to nullify a mitzvah.14 What is implied? One took an oath not to wrap himself in tzitzit,15 not to put on tefilin, not to dwell in a sukkah throughout the holiday of Sukkot,16 not to eat matzah on Pesach night, that he would fast on the Sabbaths and the festivals,17 or concerning other analogous instances.


שְׁלִישִׁית שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע לְבַטֵּל אֶת הַמִּצְוָה. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע שֶׁלֹּא יִתְעַטֵּף בְּצִיצִית. שֶׁלֹּא יִלְבַּשׁ תְּפִלִּין. וְשֶׁלֹּא יֵשֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת. וְלֹא יֹאכַל מַצָּה בְּלֵילֵי הַפֶּסַח. אוֹ שֶׁיִּתְעַנֶּה בְּשַׁבָּתוֹת וּבְיָמִים טוֹבִים. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


The fourth - that one took an oath concerning a matter that he is unable to perform.18 What is implied? He took an oath that he would not sleep for three consecutive days and nights,19 he would not eat for seven consecutive days or concerning any analogous matter.

Whenever a person takes an oath in vain by taking one of these four types of oaths, he transgresses a negative commandment,20 as [Exodus 20:7] states: "And you shall not take the name of God your Lord in vain." If he [takes the oath] willfully, he is liable for lashes.21 If he does so inadvertently, he is exempt entirely.


רְבִיעִית שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין כֹּחַ בּוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע שֶׁלֹּא יִישַׁן שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים לַיְלָה וָיוֹם רְצוּפִים. אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִטְעוֹם כְּלוּם שִׁבְעָה יָמִים רְצוּפִים. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. כָּל הַנִּשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא מֵאַרְבַּע שְׁבוּעוֹת אֵלּוּ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כ ז) (דברים ה יא) "לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת שֵׁם ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא". וְאִם הָיָה מֵזִיד לוֹקֶה וְאִם הָיָה שׁוֹגֵג פָּטוּר מִכְּלוּם:


What is meant by a sh'vuat hapikadon, [an oath concerning an entrusted object]?22 [It applies] when a person has money belonging to a colleague in his possession - whether it be an entrusted article or a loan, he stole from him, withheld his wages, he found a loss object belonging to him and did not return it, or any similar situation. If his colleague claims the money that he has in his possession and he denies the claim, he violates a negative commandment,23 as [Leviticus 19:11] states: "You shall not deny..."; this is a warning [not to] deny a monetary [claim]. One is not liable for lashes for this transgression.24

If one took a false oath with regard to the financial claim that he denied, he transgresses another negative commandment,25 as [the above verse] continues: "A person may not lie to his colleague."26 This is a warning against swearing [falsely] when denying a financial [obligation].


שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן כֵּיצַד. כָּל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ מָמוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיָדוֹ בֵּין פִּקָּדוֹן בֵּין מִלְוֶה אוֹ שֶׁגְּזָלוֹ אוֹ עֲשָׁקוֹ אוֹ מָצָא לוֹ אֲבֵדָה וְלֹא הֶחֱזִירָהּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה וְתָבַע מִמֶּנּוּ מָמוֹן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּיָדוֹ וְכָפַר בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יא) "לֹא תְכַחֲשׁוּ" זוֹ אַזְהָרָה לִכְפִירַת מָמוֹן. וְאֵין לוֹקִין עַל לָאו זֶה. וְאִם נִשְׁבַּע לוֹ עַל שֶׁקֶר עַל מָמוֹן שֶׁכָּפַר בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלָאו אַחֵר וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יא) "לֹא תְשַׁקְּרוּ אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ" זוֹ אַזְהָרָה לְנִשְׁבַּע עַל כְּפִירַת מָמוֹן. וּשְׁבוּעָה זוֹ הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן:


What is a person's liability for taking a false sh'vuat hapikadon? He must pay the principle that he denied plus an additional fifth27 and bring a definite28 guilt offering as a sacrifice. [This applies] whether he [transgressed] intentionally or unintentionally,29 as indicated by Leviticus 5:21-23 which] states: "And he will deny his [obligation to] a colleague concerning an entrusted object, a [financial] deposit, a robbery... when he will sin and become guilty." [The verse] does not say: "And it will become concealed from him,"30 indicating that one who transgresses willfully is liable just as [one who transgresses] inadvertently.


וּמַה הוּא חַיָּב עַל שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁשִּׁקֵּר בָּהּ. מְשַׁלֵּם אֶת הַקֶּרֶן שֶׁכָּפַר בּוֹ עִם תּוֹסֶפֶת חֹמֶשׁ. וּמַקְרִיב אָשָׁם וַדַּאי בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה מֵזִיד בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה שׁוֹגֵג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה כא) "וְכִחֵשׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ בְּפִקָּדוֹן אוֹ בִתְשׂוּמֶת יָד אוֹ בְגָזֵל" וְגוֹ' (ויקרא ה כג) "וְהָיָה כִּי יֶחֱטָא וְאָשֵׁם". וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר בּוֹ וְנֶעְלַם מִמֶּנּוּ, לְחַיֵּב מֵזִיד כְּשׁוֹגֵג:


The above applies when the person willfully accepted the entrusted object or the money that he was obligated and knew about it at the time of the oath. If, however, he acted unintentionally, forgot that he had the money in his possession, therefore denied it and took an oath, and then discovered the matter, he is considered [to have transgressed because of] factors beyond his control and is not liable at all.31 Similarly, if the person did not know that it was forbidden to take a false oath in denial of a financial claim, he is considered [to have transgressed because of] factors beyond his control and is not liable.32


וְהוּא שֶׁיָּזִיד בְּפִקָּדוֹן אוֹ בְּמָמוֹן שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב בּוֹ וְיָדַע בּוֹ בִּשְׁעַת שְׁבוּעָה. אֲבָל אִם שָׁגַג וְשָׁכַח שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אֶצְלוֹ מָמוֹן וְכָפַר וְנִשְׁבַּע וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָדַע הֲרֵי זֶה אָנוּס וּפָטוּר מִכְּלוּם. וְכֵן אִם לֹא יָדַע שֶׁאָסוּר לִשָּׁבַע לַשֶּׁקֶר עַל כְּפִירַת מָמוֹן הֲרֵי זֶה אָנוּס וּפָטוּר:


If so, what is meant by acting inadvertently with regard to a sh'vuat hapikadon? For example, he forgot that one is liable to bring a sacrifice for [taking such a false oath], but knew that it was forbidden to do so and that he has the other person's money in his possession. This is considered the inadvertent transgression [of this prohibition].33 Willful transgression is when he knows that he is liable to bring a sacrifice [because of the transgression].


אִם כֵּן הֵיאַךְ הִיא שִׁגְגַת שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנֶּעֱלַם מִמֶּנּוּ אִם חַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ קָרְבָּן אִם לָאו וְיָדַע שֶׁהִיא אֲסוּרָה וְשֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אֶצְלוֹ מָמוֹן זוֹ הִיא שִׁגְגָתָהּ. וּזְדוֹנָהּ שֶׁיָּדַע שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ קָרְבָּן:


What is meant by sh'vuat ha'edut?34 Witnesses know testimony associated with a monetary claim35 and the person affected by the testimony demanded that they testify on his behalf. The witnesses deny knowledge of testimony, do not testify, and take an oath36 that they do not know any testimony concerning him. This is referred to as a sh'vuat ha'edut. For taking a [false] oath of this nature, one is liable for an adjustable guilt offering,37 [This applies] whether he [transgressed] intentionally or unintentionally, as [indicated by Leviticus 5:1 which] states: "When a person will sin: If he heard a demand for an oath and he had witnessed...." [The verse] does not say: "And it will become concealed from him,"38 indicating that one who transgresses willfully is liable just as [one who transgresses] inadvertently.


שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת כֵּיצַד. הָעֵדִים שֶׁיָּדְעוּ עֵדוּת מָמוֹן וּתְבָעָם בַּעַל הָעֵדוּת לְהָעִיד לוֹ וְכָפְרוּ בְּעֵדוּתָן וְלֹא הֵעִידוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ שֶׁאֵינָן יוֹדְעִין לוֹ עֵדוּת זוֹ הִיא נִקְרֵאת שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. וְחַיָּבִין עַל שְׁבוּעָה זוֹ קָרְבָּן עוֹלֶה וְיוֹרֵד בֵּין שֶׁהָיוּ מְזִידִין בֵּין שֶׁהָיוּ שׁוֹגְגִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה א) "נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וְשָׁמְעָה קוֹל אָלָה וְהוּא עֵד" וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר בָּהּ וְנֶעְלַם, לְחַיֵּב עַל הַזָּדוֹן כִּשְׁגָגָה:


What is meant by acting inadvertently with regard to a sh'vuat ha'edut? For example, he forgot that one is liable to bring a sacrifice for [taking such a false oath], but knew that this oath was forbidden and that he would be swearing falsely. Willful transgression is when he knows that he is liable to bring a sacrifice [because of the transgression]. If he did not know that [taking such an oath] is forbidden or forgot the testimony and took an oath39 and later it was discovered that he knew testimony and took a false oath, he is considered [to have transgressed because of] forces beyond his control and he is not liable to bring a sacrifice.40


כֵּיצַד שִׁגְגַת שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנֶּעֱלַם מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ קָרְבָּן וְיָדַע שֶׁשְּׁבוּעָה זוֹ אֲסוּרָה וְשֶׁהִיא שֶׁקֶר. וּזְדוֹנָהּ שֶׁיָּדַע שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ קָרְבָּן. אֲבָל אִם לֹא יָדַע שֶׁהִיא אֲסוּרָה אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁכְחוּ הָעֵדוּת וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹדַע לָהֶם שֶׁהֵן יוֹדְעִין לוֹ עֵדוּת וְשֶׁנִּשְׁבְּעוּ עַל שֶׁקֶר הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ אֲנוּסִין וּפְטוּרִין אַף מִן הַקָּרְבָּן: