כ״ו באב ה׳תשע״ה (August 11, 2015)

Nedarim 79a-b: Limitations on Nullification

The eleventh perek of Massekhet Nedarim which begins on today’s daf continues the discussion of the ability of a woman’s father or husband to nullify a neder taken by her – hafarat nedarim – and specifically of which vows can be annulled. From a close reading of the passages in Bamidbar (30:10-14) the Talmudic Sages conclude that a man cannot nullify any neder taken by his wife, rather his power is limited only to vows that affect the personal relationship between husband and wife – bein ish le-ishto – or nedarim that are considered vows that make her suffer – innuy nefesh.

The first Mishna of the perek opens with the words eilu nedarim she-hu mefer – these are the vows that he has the power to nullify. While the Rosh, the Ran and others understand that the Mishna refers to both the husband and the father, the Rambam believes that these limitations only apply to the husband; the father has wide-ranging powers to nullify any of his daughter’s vows with no limitations. The first opinion follows the Talmud Yerushalmi, which teaches that the Torah connects the laws of the husband and the father (see Bamidbar 30:17).

At first glance it would appear that the nedarim that the husband nullifies because they affect personal relations between husband and wife (beino le-veinah, in the terminology of the Gemara) refer to issues of intimacy that will affect marital relations. Nevertheless, the Ramban and his students point out that this concept is broad enough to encompass other issues of their relationship, i.e. vows that will cause discord or strife in their relationship. This explanation is particularly important according to those rishonim who disagree with the Rambam and apply these rules not only to husband and wife, but to father and daughter, as well.

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