Talmud Tips

For the week ending 25 July 2015 / 9 Av 5775

Nedarim 65 - 71

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Until Rabbi Akiva came and taught: A neder that is partially permitted is completely permitted.”

This teaching, in the first mishna on our daf, changed the way that earlier authorities taught and ruled. Previously if a person made a neder to forbid something, he would be asked if he would have still made the neder if he had known that sorrow was forbidden on Shabbat and Tom Tov — and this would lead to permitting his neder on those days but not on the rest of the days. Rabbi Akiva came along and ruled that since the neder was partially permitted, it was totally permitted. (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 129:1)

One explanation for this rule is that it is logical that the person who made the neder wanted it to be valid only if all aspects of it would be valid. (Rabbeinu Asher) The Yerushalmi Talmud learns the rule in our mishna from the verse, “as all that goes out from his mouth (his neder that he spoke) he will do.” (Bamidbar 30:3) This implies that the neder exists only as long as all of the neder exists. (Rabbeinu Nissim)

  • Nedarim 66

“The woman broke two lamps on the head of the Sage Bava ben Buta.”

Bava ben Buta said to her, “You did according to what your husband requested. G-d will bless you and grant you two children who will be great Torah scholars like Bava ben Buta.”

Why did she break the lamps on his head, and why did she receive such a wonderful blessing? The gemara relates that her husband came from Bavel, where Aramaic was spoken, to live in Israel, where he met this woman and they married. However, she repeatedly misunderstood what he meant, due to a language barrier, and he was frustrated and upset. When he asked her to break the lamps on the door (“bava” in Aramaic) she thought he meant on “Bava ben Buta” who was sitting at the door at the time. (The gemara mentions that he was sitting at the door to explain how she could possibly think that her husband intended that she break the lamps on a great Rabbi. — Maharsha)

Due to the great importance of “shalom bayit”, preserving family harmony between husband and wife, not only did the Gadol Hador not become upset with her, but he gave her an extraordinarily wonderful blessing.

  • Nedarim 66b

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