Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Small Oaths II

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

And I will establish my covenant with you; never again will all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth. (Bereshith 9:11)

The previous essay mentioned that one must be extremely wary of inadvertently taking a vow, for if one intends to do so even the words “yes” and “no” can be considered oaths. This prohibition applies regardless of which language one spoke in and even if one does not explicitly mention one of God’s names.(1) However, if one does mention a Divine name, the words are considered an oath even if one does not say that they are an oath. Therefore one should not say, “B’emeth (in truth) this is so,” for Emeth is one of the names of God.(2)

Why is an oath viewed with such awe? In essence, when someone makes oath, he is comparing the accuracy of the statement he has made to the truth of God’s existence. Therefore if a person violates his oath it is as if he has denied God’s very existence. For this reason, our Sages say that at Sinai, when God pronounced the prohibition of swearing falsely, the entire universe trembled.(3)

A man once left some money with a widow. The woman placed the coins in the flour jar, but soon forgot that she had done so. When she baked bread with that flour, the money that she was given was accidentally mixed into the dough. A poor person came to her door, and she gave him the bread, unaware that she had also given him the coins.

The owner of the coins came back to the widow and asked for his money. Anxious to affirm her honesty, she exclaimed, “May deadly poison affect the children of the woman who benefited from those coins.” Shortly after she made her exclamation one of her children died. Concerning this incident the Sages said, “If this is the punishment for one who makes a true oath, (for in truth she did not receive direct benefit from the coins), imagine what the punishment for a false oath is.”(4)


1. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 237:1.

2. Sefer HaYirah of Rabbeinu Yonah, p. 217; Reishith Chochmah, Kedushah Ch. 14; Teshuvoth V’Hanhagoth 1:525.

3. Shavuoth 39a.

4. Gittin 35a.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON PINCHAS AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

What Are We Mourning on the Ninth of Av
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5765

In Partnership With G-d
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

YomTov, vol. XIII # 3
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Body Language
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Absolute Soul
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Peace Not Pieces
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Let Us Pray!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Tempered Blessing
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Tying Generations Together
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

ArtScroll

Eliyahu Chai!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

In Our Best Interest
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5764

Zealotry: How Far To Go
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

> Pinchas: Man of Peace
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

Born Of Clarity
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Breaches in the Wall
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

'Standing in' for Hashem
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information