For the week ending 13 June 2015 / 26 Sivan 5775

Nedarim 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • When troubling the rabbis serves as an opening for vow nullification
  • The conflict over whom the daughter of the Sage Abaye should marry
  • The source for "Kol Nidrei" on Yom Kippur
  • Vows taken to ensure the granting of a favor or the receiving of one
  • Vows and oaths based on absurd statements
  • Ensuring that an oath is taken without deviousness
  • Vows taken in error
  • Partial nullification of a vow affecting many
  • Vows taking effect as a result of unavoidable circumstances
  • Vows taken to avoid financial loss
  • Consecration on condition and need for redemption
  • Different levels of consecration

Sun and Shade

  • Nedarim 23a

An interesting observation regarding Beit Midrash architecture emerges from an incident recorded in our gemara.

When Rabbi Shimon came before the Rabbinical Court in the Beit Midrash to have his vow annulled, the rabbis made a long and strenuous effort to find an opening. But each time that they asked him if he would have made his vow had he been aware of some problem it would cause him he would respond that he would have made the vow in any case. The day dragged on and the rabbis moved their session from the sunny part of the building to the shady part and later back to the sunny part. This inspired one of the Sages present to come up with a solution.

"Had you realized that your vow would cause the rabbis so much trouble of moving around would you have made that vow?" he asked.

When the answer came that he would certainly not have made his vow with such awareness, this constituted the regret required for annulment of the vow.

Maharsha notes that in some countries it is customary to build homes that are only partially covered by a roof. This allows for enjoying the sun in the morning and late afternoon while seeking shelter from the heat at noontime in the covered area. This, he points out, was the way the Beit Midrash in this story was built and explains the movement of the rabbis.

It may be added that this same sort of Beit Midrash was the one in which the Sages Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi studied, for they too are described (Ketubot 112b) as moving from sun to shade and later back to the sun so that they should never have any complaint about the climate of Eretz Yisrael.

What the Sages Say

"Whoever wishes that his vows throughout the year should not take effect should declare at the beginning of the year that all vows which he will make should be null and void (the source for 'Kol Nidrei')."

  • Gemara's explanation of the missing words - in the mishna (Nedarim 23b)

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