ט׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ה (May 27, 2015)

Nedarim 3a-b: Obligations of a Vow

We have already learned that the most basic requirements of nedarim – or becoming obligated by making a vow – are for a person to have clear intent, that he express it in a clear manner. Nevertheless, as the first Mishna makes clear, there is not set formula for taking on a neder, and substitutes – referred to by the Mishna as kinuyei nedarim – or abbreviated formulations – referred to by the Gemara as yadot nedarim – will also create a full obligation.

The Gemara on our daf discusses the order in which kinuyei nedarim and yadot nedarim are presented by the Mishna, and suggests that kinuyei nedarim are mentioned first because they are mi-d’oraita (from the Torah), while yadot nedarim, which are learned mi- (derived from a homiletic teaching) are taught afterwards.

Tosafot point out that according to the Talmud Yerushalmikinuyei nedarim are expressions developed by for use when making vows, and that effectively both kinuyei nedarim and yadot nedarim are of rabbinic origin. Based on this approach, even though the Gemara finds passages in the Torah to which the concept of kinuyei nedarim is connected, someone who uses such an expression to accept upon himself nezirut, for example, would not bring the sacrifices that a nazir ordinarily brings, even though he will receive the punishment of malkot – lashes – if he breaks the rules of nezirut, albeit only on a rabbinic level.

Some commentaries suggest that according to our Gemara, both kinuyei nedarim and yadot nedarim are treated as creating biblical obligations. According to this approach, when our Gemara presented yadot nedarim as being derived mi-derasha, it does not indicate that yadot are rabbinic, rather that they are not clearly written in the Torah. This approach is similar to that of the Rambam who uses the expression mi-divrei soferim – from the words of the scribes – when referring to laws that have biblical weight but are derived from the words of the Torah rather than being written explicitly there.

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