כ״ג בתמוז ה׳תשע״ה (July 10, 2015)

Nedarim 47a-b: A Vow Still In Effect After Death?

The Mishna (46a) distinguishes between two cases of nedarim:

  1. A person who vows, “I will not enter your house or purchase your field.”
  2. A person who vows, “I will not enter this house or purchase this field.”

In the first case, if the house or the field is sold, or if the original owner dies, the person who took the vow can enter it or purchase it. In the second case, where the vow did not relate to the owner, but to the property, even if the owner dies or sells his property, the vow remains in effect.

In our Gemara, Avimi introduces a third, similar case. If a person takes a vow saying, “You cannot enter this house,” what will be the situation should he die or sell the house? Will the vow remain in effect even after the house passes from his ownership due to sale or death? Rava responds that a person can take a vow that remains in effect even after death, quoting this baraita as a proof text:

“If a person takes a vow, saying to his son, ‘You cannot benefit from me,’ the son can receive the inheritance. If he says, however, ‘You cannot benefit from me, neither during my lifetime nor after I die,’ the son will not inherit his father.”

The Rosh explains that the case raised by Avimi differs from those of the Mishna, because the cases in the Mishna describe a person who is imposing limitations on his own activities, while Avimi’s case describes someone who is prohibiting others from benefiting from him. Since a person can only forbid something that he controls, Avimi’s question is whether the prohibition that was successfully established by means of the neder will remain in force even after he no longer controls it.

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