י״א בסיון ה׳תשע״ה (May 29, 2015)

Nedarim 5a-b: Statements That Are Not Clear

We have already learned that a person can accept a vow on himself by means of yadot nedarim – an abbreviation or “short form” of a neder that is understood to be an expression of a vow. Our Gemara raises the issue of clarity – how clear does such a statement need to be? While all agree that yadayim mokhihot – clear abbreviations – would create a neder, there is a dispute about yadayim she-ein mokhihot – abbreviated statements that are not clear. Thus, according to Shmuel, saying mufrishani mimkha (I am separated from you) or meruhkani mimkha (I am removed from you) will only be understood as a neder if it is followed up with a supporting statement that clarifies that the intent is to actually forbid deriving benefit from the person. This is because he considers these to be yadayim she-ein mokhihot and Shmuel believes that yadayim she-ein mokhihot lo have yadayim – that ambiguous intimations are not considered clear yadayim.

Most of the commentaries understand the etymology of the term yadayim to be from the idea of a handle, which allows a person to hold or grasp an object. That is to say that even though the statement that we are calling a yad does not intrinsically have the meaning of a neder, nevertheless it can act as a tool to express a certain idea, just as a handle allows for grasping and controlling something else. A different perspective on this concept is offered by the Rambam in his commentary on the Mishna. He explains that the word yad in this context means a part of something (see, for example, Bereshit 43:34 where the word yad is used in this way). Thus the expression yadayim mean that it is a partial statement, one that does not complete the thought, even as its intent may be possible to determine.

Previous
Next