For the week ending 8 August 2015 / 23 Av 5775

Nedarim 79 - 85

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Different motives for husband's silence towards wife's vow
  • Which sort of vow husband has power to nullify
  • A wife's vow regarding bathing and whether abstaining from bathing constitutes severe suffering
  • Comparing the importance of bathing and washing clothes
  • Important insights regarding study of Torah
  • Wife's vows that affect relationship with husband
  • Wife's vow to be a nazarite
  • Her vow to abstain from benefiting from anyone
  • The concept of tovat hana'ah as having monetary value
  • Can someone consecrate something which is not yet in existence

Scholars and Kings

  • Nedarim 81a

"Pay special attention to the children of the poor for they are destined to succeed in their study of Torah."

This was the message sent to the Sages in Babylon from their colleagues in Eretz Yisrael.

The Torah source for this is a passage (Bamidbar 24:7) in the prophecy of Bil'am, which speaks of water flowing midalyav. Torah is compared to water and the Hebrew word for a poor person is dal. The interpretation is then that midalyav — from his poverty shall Torah flow.

But why should poverty be an advantage in achieving success in Torah study?

Rabbeinu Nissim (RaN) offers two reasons. One is that since their economic situation is one in which they will not have the distraction of involvement in an occupation and will therefore be free to be totally involved in Torah study.

The other reason is that it is often mentioned throughout the Talmud that humility is an indispensable element for Torah success. The poverty of these youngsters will certainly protect them from haughtiness and help them succeed.

In his commentary on this very passage Rashi refers us to the interpretation of Targum Onkeles which is a prophecy regarding the great kings which will arise midalyav — from the wellsprings of the people — to conquer Israel's enemies and establish great kingdoms.

Perhaps one can see a connection between the two interpretations based on the famous Talmudic expression "Who are the kings if not the Torah scholars."

What the Sages Say

"Be careful to study Torah together with others (for no one can effectively explore something without the help of another – Rashi)."

  • Message from Sages in Eretz Yisrael to their colleagues in Babylon - Nedarim 81a

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