Posted on October 3, 2006 () By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:


31. Vows – Nedarim

If a person forbids something tangible to himself even without swearing an oath, he must fulfill his vow and he is forbidden to violate it, as it says “[If a man makes a vow…] to forbid himself something, his word shall not be annulled; he must do everything that comes out of his mouth”1; and it says “[If you make a vow…] you must keep and do what comes out of your lips”.2,a He must forbid it by saying that it is like something which it is in his power to make forbidden — e.g., like a sacrifice or other donation to the Temple that can be brought by an individual.b A person can also forbid his own property to others.c

As with oaths, a vow must be expressed orally and with intent; it can be administered by others; it is not binding if made under duress or in ignorance of the facts or in exaggeration; and one can be released from it in the same way as from an oath. Unlike oaths, however, one can include oneself in a vow made by another and can extend the scope of a vow to new things; and one can forbid to himself things necessary for the fulfillment of a commandment.d

A father can annul the vows and oaths of his young unmarried daughter on the day he hears them, as it says [“And if a woman makes a vow… in her father’s house in her youth… and her father opposes her on the day he hears], all her vows and prohibitions that she made on herself do not stand, and Ha-Shem will forgive her since her father opposed her”.3 Similarly, a husband can annul his wife’s vows and oaths even if he does not hear them, as it says “And if she made a vow in her husband’s house… and if her husband annulled (it) on the day he heard… it does not stand…; any vow or oath to prohibit, to afflict… her husband can annul it”.4 A husband can completely annul a vow only if it involves affliction; otherwise, he can annul it only as regards himself but not as regards others.e


1. Num. 30:3 a. 1:1,4-5; 3:10; see 13:25
2. Deut. 23:22-24 b. 1:9
3. Num. 30:4-6 c. 5:lff
4. Num. 30:11-14 d. 2:1-3; 3:3-6; 4:1,5
e. 11:6,8,21; 12:1-2