TalmuDigest

For the week ending 16 February 2008 / 10 Adar I 5768

Nedarim 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

  • When forbidden matter loses its status by being in a mixture with a greater amount of permitted matter
  • How this applies to crops in the shemitah year
  • The importance of seeking nullification of vows
  • Vows tied to time periods
  • How the Yovel year interacts with the shemitah cycle
  • Vows tied to agricultural seasons
  • When fruits from others' fields may be eaten
  • Rabbi Tarfon's narrow escape
  • Proper motivation for learning Torah
  • When a Torah scholar may identify himself as such and what benefits he may enjoy from this status
  • Vows tied to rainy season
  • The leap-year factor in vows tied to a year
  • How long vows re wine, meat or garlic are in effect
  • Declining gifts to nullify vows
  • Limitations on openings for vow nullification

Declining the Favor

  • Nedarim 63b

A Jew makes a vow that he will not take any benefit from another unless he accepts for his son a generous gift of grain and wine. The majority view of the Sages in the mishna is that the intended recipient can free the donor of this vow without the need for rabbinical nullification by simply stating: "Since you only made this vow in order to show that you honor me, it is a greater honor for me to decline the gift."

The logic behind this is thus explained elsewhere (Mesechta Gittin 74b). The intention of the one making the vow is only to economically assist the other fellow, and if he has no need for such help then the vow is automatically nullified.

Since this is the case, such a declining of the gift by the father is meaningful only if his son is being supported by him. Should the son be independent it is he and not the father who was the intended beneficiary and only he can nullify the vow by declining the gift.

An interesting question arises in regard to a hypothetical case of the vow being made that a ban on benefit will take place if the other party goes to a certain place. Can the vow maker nullify the vow by declaring that he considers the other fellow as not having gone?

One opinion mentioned in the commentary of Rabbeinu Nissim (RaN) is that while we can consider declining a gift as fulfillment of a condition because the recipient has the prerogative of accepting the gift and returning it, this is not applicable to our case in which not going is to be considered as fulfilling the condition of the vow maker.

He does, however, cite another opinion that the cases are similar. In both of them we focus on the intention of the vow maker, which is to have his will done. If he is content to see his will done by not having the other party go, then his condition is considered fulfilled and the vow is nullified.

What the Sages Say

"One should not say 'I shall learn Torah in order to be called a scholar, a rabbi or an elder of the yeshiva', but should learn Torah out of love for G-d, and honor will eventually come to him."

  • Beraita - Nedarim 62a

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