For the week ending 15 August 2015 / 30 Av 5775

Nedarim 86 - 91

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Consecration of property that will be acquired in the future
  • Errors made in regard to nature of wife's vow and in regard to rending garment in mourning
  • Time lapse for separating two acts or statements
  • Affirming or annulling a part of wife's vow
  • Husband's failure to annul wife's vow because of ignorance of the law
  • The blind involuntary killer
  • The father who has vowed to forbid his son-in-law from benefiting from him but wishes to help his daughter
  • The single adult woman who make a nazarite vow and marries before it takes effect
  • Which women cannot have their vows annulled
  • Failed effort of the would-be scholar
  • Must vow take effect before it can be annulled
  • Wife who confesses unfaithfulness or is suspected of such
  • The sweetness of stolen waters

Mystery of a Failed Effort

  • Nedarim 89b

A fascinating example of the variety of approaches of commentaries on the Talmud is found in the mystery of a failed effort.

Our gemara relates the story of a fellow who was so determined to master the Talmud without being hindered by the responsibilities of family life that he made a vow that should he submit to marriage before achieving his goal he would be forbidden to benefit from anyone in this world. But try as he might he failed in his efforts and it took a clever tactic by one of the Sages to get him married and then annul his vow.

His efforts are described as "rushing with gappa and tuvlia," terms that lend themselves to various translations and interpretations.

Rashi and Sefer Ha’aruch translate these terms as the ladder and rope used in picking dates from the tree. While Rashi interprets this as an allegory to the strenuous effort made, the Sefer Ha’aruch explains that the fellow actually picked dates in the service of a Talmudic scholar who he hoped would teach him.

Rabbeinu Nissim (RaN) translates these terms as walking stick and backpack, which he also sees as an allegory to a strenuous effort. These approaches leave us with a mystery as to why such a great effort resulted in failure. We do find a solution, however, in the commentaries of Tosefot and Rabbeinu Osher (ROSH). They define the above-mentioned terms as vessels used for transporting fruit and suggest that this fellow was so preoccupied with his labors that he did not succeed in achieving his educational goal.

What the Sages Say

"A woman who claims to her husband that he divorced her is believed because it can certainly assumed that a woman would not be brazen enough to lie to her husband's face."

  • Rabbi Hamenuna - Nedarim 91a

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