For the week ending 25 July 2015 / 9 Av 5775

Nedarim 65 - 71

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The oaths of Moshe and of King Tzidkiyahu
  • An opening for vow nullification based on a condition stated at the time vow was made
  • Openings based on clash with Torah commands
  • Payment of ketubah as a factor in vow nullification
  • Openings based on considerations for holy days or for personal and family honor
  • Rabbi Yishmael, the beautifying Sage
  • Mix-up of languages and the happy ending
  • Who can annul the vow of a na’arah mu’orassah — a girl between the ages of 12-12 1/2 betrothed but not yet married
  • The source for the power of the father and the chatan
  • What happens when either of them dies or when one of them annuls the vow
  • When a person makes conflicting successive declarations in regard to sanctifying an animal or in regard to maintaining or annulling a vow
  • When a na’arah mu’orassah vows and is divorced and remarried the same day

To Whom Does One Turn

  • Nedarim 65b

In search for an opening with which to nullify a vow taken by a Jew to forbid another Jew to benefit from him, the court may challenge the vow taker with violation of Torah commands that his vow has caused. One of these is the obligation of supporting an impoverished relative: "If your brother becomes poor… you shall support him… that your brother shall live with you." (Vayikra 25:35-36) The court may ask him whether he would have made such a vow had he realized that it would prevent him from fulfilling his obligation to support his poor relative. If he responds that he would not have made the vow, the court can annul it.

This ruling of Rabbi Meir in the mishna is thus challenged by Rabbi Huna bar Katina in our gemara: Why can the vow-maker not parry this challenge by asking why he bears sole responsibility for supporting this poor relative and it is not sufficient for him to contribute to the general fund?

Even before dealing with the gemara's response it is important to deal with the question of how he can contribute to the communal fund which may help his poor relative if he has taken a vow not to benefit him.

The commentaries point out that this is not a problem since the money goes to the charity trustee who has the prerogative of using those funds for any deserving recipient. Therefore it is not considered a violation of the vow even if it goes to the relative.

To the challenge of Rabbi Huna came the response that when a man becomes poor he turns to his relatives before appealing to the general fund.

What the Sages Say

"All Jewish girls are basically attractive and it is only poverty which causes some of them to appear otherwise."

  • Rabbi Yishmael - Nedarim 66a

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