1

Although a person who took a false oath or an oath in vain is given lashes,1 and similarly, one who takes a [false] sh'vuat haedut or sh'vuat hapikadon brings a sacrifice,2 they do not receive complete atonement for the sin of taking a [false] oath, as [Exodus 20:7] states: "God will not cleanse [one who takes His name in vain]." He will not be absolved from the judgment of heaven until he receives retribution for his desecration of [His] great name, as [Leviticus 19:12] states: "[You shall not take a false oath in My name, for] you will desecrate the name of Your God." Therefore a person must be very careful with regard to this sin, more than with regard all other sins.3

א

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלּוֹקֶה הַנִּשִׁבָּע לַשָּׁוְא אוֹ לַשֶּׁקֶר וְכֵן הַנִּשְׁבָּע שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת אוֹ שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן מֵבִיא קָרְבָּן. אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן עֲוֹן הַשְּׁבוּעָה כֻּלּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כ ז) (דברים ה יא) "לֹא יְנַקֶּה ה'" אֵין לָזֶה נִקָּיוֹן מִדִּין שָׁמַיִם עַד שֶׁיִּתְפָּרַע מִמֶּנּוּ עַל הַשֵּׁם הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁחִלֵּל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יב) "וְחִלַּלְתָּ אֶת שֵׁם ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי ה'". לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ אָדָם לְהִזָּהֵר מֵעָוֹן זֶה יוֹתֵר מִכָּל הָעֲבֵרוֹת:

2

This sin is considered one of the severe transgressions, as explained in Hilchot Teshuvah.4 Although it does not involve kerait or execution by the court, it involves the desecration of [God's] holy name which is more severe than all other sins.

ב

עָוֹן זֶה מִן הַחֲמוּרוֹת הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ לֹא כָּרֵת וְלֹא מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין יֵשׁ בּוֹ חִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם הַמְקֻדָּשׁ שֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל מִכָּל הָעֲוֹנוֹת:

3

When a person takes an oath by the heaven and earth, by the sun, or the like, this is not an oath,5 even though his intent is He who created them. Similarly, one who takes an oath by one of the prophets or by one of the texts of the Holy Scriptures, this is not an oath, even if his intent is He who sent the prophet or gave the commandments in this text.6

Although these are not oaths, those who take them are subjected to a severe warning and we teach the people not to act frivolously in this manner. [Indeed,] we make it look as if these are oaths and give them an opening [to ask for their absolution] and absolve them.7

ג

מִי שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ וּבַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין כַּוָּנָתוֹ אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁבְּרָאָם אֵין זוֹ שְׁבוּעָה. וְכֵן הַנִּשְׁבָּע בְּנָבִיא מִן הַנְּבִיאִים אוֹ בִּכְתָב מִכִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין כַּוָּנָתוֹ אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁשָּׁלַח נָבִיא זֶה אוֹ לְמִי שֶׁצִּוָּה בִּכְתָב זֶה אֵין זוֹ שְׁבוּעָה. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אֵלּוּ שְׁבוּעוֹת מְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶן וּמְלַמְּדִין אֶת הָעָם שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהֲגוּ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ בְּכָךְ וּמַרְאִין בְּעֵינֵיהֶם שֶׁזּוֹ שְׁבוּעָה. וּפוֹתְחִין לָהֶם פֶּתַח וּמַתִּירִין לָהֶם:

4

When does the above apply? With regard to other holy texts. [Different rules apply,] however, when one takes an oath by the Torah.8 If one takes an oath by what is written in [the Torah],9 his intent is by the names of God [it contains].10If one takes an oath by it without any further definition, his intent is on the parchment [of the scroll] and it is not considered as an oath.11 If he took [the scroll] in his hand and took an oath by it,12 it is as if he took an oath by what was written in it and [the matter] is forbidden.13

ד

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּשְׁאָר כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ. אֲבָל הַנִּשְׁבָּע בַּתּוֹרָה. אִם נִשְׁבָּע בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בָּהּ דַּעְתּוֹ עַל הַהַזְכָּרוֹת. וְאִם נִשְׁבַּע בָּהּ סְתָם דַּעְתּוֹ עַל הַגְּוִיל וְאֵין כָּאן שְׁבוּעָה. נְטָלָהּ בְּיָדוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּע בָּהּ הֲרֵי זֶה כְּמִי שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בָּהּ וְאָסוּר:

5

[The following rules apply when] a person takes an oath by the Torah without any further definition. If he is a Torah scholar, he does not need to be released by a sage.14 If he is a common person,15 it is necessary that he asked to be released by a sage so that he will not treat oaths frivolously.16

ה

וְהַנִּשְׁבָּע בַּתּוֹרָה סְתָם אִם תַּלְמִיד חָכָם הוּא אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם. וְאִם עַם הָאָרֶץ הוּא צָרִיךְ שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהַג קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת:

6

When a servant takes an oath, his master does not have to compel him [to break the oath to nullify it].17 Instead, his [status] is the same after taking the oath as it was before he did so.18 [The rationale is that] his body is not his property for that the oath he takes will be effective. With regard to oaths, [Numbers 30:3] states: "To forbid something upon one's soul." [Implied is that the verse applies to] someone whose soul is his property. It excludes a servant who is someone else's property. Thus [a servant's taking an oath] is comparable to taking an oath regarding someone else's property.19

ו

עֶבֶד שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע אֵין רַבּוֹ צָרִיךְ לִכְפּוֹתוֹ. וַהֲרֵי הוּא אַחַר שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע כְּקֹדֶם שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין גּוּפוֹ קָנוּי לוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁתָּחוּל עָלָיו שְׁבוּעָתוֹ וְנֶאֱמַר בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת (במדבר ל ג) "לֶאְסֹר אִסָּר עַל נַפְשׁוֹ" מִי שֶׁנַּפְשׁוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ יָצָא עֶבֶד שֶׁהוּא בִּרְשׁוּת אֲחֵרִים. וְנִמְצָא זֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע עַל נִכְסֵי אַחֵר:

7

[Even though] minors20 understand the significance of an oath take an oath, they are not obligated [to maintain their commitment].21 [Nevertheless,] we compel them to uphold their word to train them [in the observance of mitzvot] and to impress them with fear so that they do not act frivolously with regard to oaths. If the matter concerning which they took the oath is such that a minor could not maintain without suffering injury,22 e.g., he took an oath that he would fast or that he would not eat meat for a long time, his father or his teacher should beat him and rebuke him, and create the appearance that his oath [took effect, but] was released, so that he will not be habituated to treat oaths frivolously.

ז

קְטַנִּים שֶׁנִּשְׁבְּעוּ וְהֵן יוֹדְעִין טַעַם הַשְּׁבוּעָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן חַיָּבִין. כּוֹפִין אוֹתָן לַעֲמֹד בְּדִבְרֵיהֶן. כְּדֵי לְחַנְּכָן וּלְאַיֵּם עֲלֵיהֶם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִנְהֲגוּ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת. וְאִם הָיָה הַדָּבָר שֶׁנִּשְׁבְּעוּ עָלָיו דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין הַקָּטָן יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד בּוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִזָּק. כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע שֶׁיָּצוּם אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל בָּשָׂר זְמַן מְרֻבֶּה. מַכֶּה אוֹתוֹ אָבִיו אוֹ רַבּוֹ וְגוֹעֵר בּוֹ וּמַרְאִין לוֹ שֶׁהֻתְּרָה שְׁבוּעָתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה רָגִיל לְהָקֵל רֹאשׁ בִּשְׁבוּעוֹת:

8

We must be very careful with children and train them to speak words of truth without [resorting to] an oath so that they will not be habituate to swear at all times like gentiles do. This matter is tantamount to an obligation for their parents and for those who teach young children.

ח

צָרִיךְ לְהִזָּהֵר בַּקְּטַנִּים הַרְבֵּה וּלְלַמֵּד לְשׁוֹנָם דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת בְּלֹא שְׁבוּעָה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ רְגִילִים לְהִשָּׁבַע תָּמִיד כְּעַכּוּ''ם. וְזֶה הַדָּבָר כְּמוֹ חוֹבָה עַל אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם וְעַל מְלַמְּדֵי תִּינוֹקוֹת:

9

When one hears a colleague mention God's name in vain, take a false oath in his presence, or recite a blessing that is unnecessary in which instance [his colleague] transgresses23 because he takes God's name in vain,24 as we explained in Hilchot Berachot,25 he must place him under a ban of ostracism.26If he does not, he himself should be ostracized. The ban should, however, be lifted immediately so that it will not present an obstacle to others, for they will not know that he was placed under a ban. And if one would say, "Make it known that he [is under ostracism]," the entire populace will be under ban for [people] have already habituated their tongues to iniquity27 and oaths at all times.

ט

הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ הַזְכָּרַת הַשֵּׁם מִפִּי חֲבֵרוֹ לַשָּׁוְא אוֹ שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּע לְפָנָיו לַשֶּׁקֶר אוֹ שֶׁבֵּרֵךְ בְּרָכָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה שֶׁהוּא עוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם נוֹשֵׂא שֵׁם ה' לַשָּׁוְא כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת בְּרָכוֹת הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב לְנַדּוֹתוֹ. וְאִם לֹא נִדָּהוּ הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ יְהֵא בְּנִדּוּי. וְצָרִיךְ לְהַתִּיר אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא מִכְשׁוֹל לַאֲחֵרִים שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁנִּדּוּהוּ. וְאִם תֹּאמַר יוֹדִיעוֹ נִמְצְאוּ כָּל הָעוֹלָם בְּנִדּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי לִמְדוּ לְשׁוֹנָם הַעֲוֵה וּשְׁבוּעָה תָּמִיד:

10

When does the above apply? When the person taking this oath or reciting this blessing in vain does so intentionally? If, however, he does so inadvertently or does not know that this is forbidden,28 [a listener] is not obligated to place him under a ban of ostracism. Indeed, I maintain that it is forbidden to place him under a ban of ostracism, for the Torah did not [prescribe] punishment for an inadvertent transgressor. Instead, one should caution him and warn him not to repeat [the transgression].

י

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיָה הַנִּשְׁבָּע הַזֶּה אוֹ הַמְבָרֵךְ לְבַטָּלָה מֵזִיד. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה שׁוֹגֵג וְלֹא יָדַע שֶׁזֶּה אָסוּר אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְנַדּוֹתוֹ. וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁאָסוּר לְנַדּוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב שׁוֹגֵג אֶלָּא מַזְהִירוֹ וּמַתְרֶה בּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַחְזֹר:

11

It is not only a false oath that is forbidden. Instead, it is forbidden to mention even one of the names designated for God29 although one does not take an oath. For the verse [Deuteronomy 28:58] commands us, saying: "to fear the glorious and awesome name."30 Included in fearing it is not to mention it in vain.31

Therefore if because of a slip of the tongue, one mentions [God's] name in vain, he should immediately hurry to praise, glorify, and venerate it so that it will not have been mentioned [entirely] in vain. What is implied? If he mentions God's name, he should say: "Blessed be He for all eternity," "He is great and exceedingly praiseworthy,"32 or the like so that it will not have been [mentioned entirely] in vain.

יא

וְלֹא שְׁבוּעָה לַשָּׁוְא בִּלְבַד הִיא שֶׁאֲסוּרָה אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ לְהַזְכִּיר שֵׁם מִן הַשֵּׁמוֹת הַמְיֻחָדִין לְבַטָּלָה אָסוּר וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁבָּע. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַכָּתוּב מְצַוֶּה וְאוֹמֵר (דברים כח נח) "לְיִרְאָה אֶת הַשֵּׁם הַנִּכְבָּד וְהַנּוֹרָא". וּבִכְלַל יִרְאָתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַזְכִּירוֹ לְבַטָּלָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם טָעָה הַלָּשׁוֹן וְהוֹצִיא שֵׁם לְבַטָּלָה יְמַהֵר מִיָּד וִישַׁבֵּחַ וִיפָאֵר וִיהַדֵּר לוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִזָּכֵר לְבַטָּלָה. כֵּיצַד. אָמַר ה', אוֹמֵר בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד אוֹ גָּדוֹל הוּא וּמְהֻלָּל מְאֹד וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לְבַטָּלָה:

12

It is permitted to approach [a sage] to have an oath released as we explained33 and there is no fault [in doing so]. [Indeed,] one who has hesitations about the matter is [showing] traces of heresy.34 Nevertheless, it is appropriate to show care in this regard. One should not respond [to a request] to release [an oath] unless it involves a matter concerning a mitzvah or a great need.35 It is of great benefit for a person never to take an oath at all.36If, however, one transgressed and took an oath, he should endure great difficulty and keep his oath,37 as [Psalms 15:4-5] states: "One who takes an oath to his own detriment and does not nullify it..., he who acts in this manner will never falter."

Blessed be God who grants assistance.

יב

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמֻּתָּר לְהִשָּׁאֵל עַל הַשְּׁבוּעָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְאֵין בָּזֶה דֹּפִי. וּמִי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ נוֹקְפוֹ בְּדָבָר זֶה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא שֵׁמֶץ מִינוּת. אַף עַל פִּי כֵן רָאוּי לְהִזָּהֵר בְּדָבָר זֶה. וְאֵין נִזְקָקִין לְהַתִּיר אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי דְּבַר מִצְוָה אוֹ מִפְּנֵי צֹרֶךְ גָּדוֹל. וְטוֹבָה גְּדוֹלָה הִיא לְאָדָם שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁבַע כְּלָל. וְאִם עָבַר וְנִשְׁבַּע שֶׁיִּצְטַעֵר וַיַּעֲמֹד בִּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים טו ד) "נִשְׁבַּע לְהָרַע וְלֹא יָמִר" וְכָתוּב אַחֲרָיו (תהילים טו ה) "עשֵֹׁה אֵלֶּה לֹא יִמּוֹט לְעוֹלָם": סְלִיקוּ לְהוּ הִלְכוֹת שְׁבוּעוֹת בְּסִיַעְתָּא דִּשְׁמַיָּא