ג׳ באלול ה׳תשע״ה (August 18, 2015)

Nedarim 86a-b: When He Realizes His Error

We have already learned that a father or a husband can annul a neder taken by a daughter or wife through a process known as hafara. What information does the father or husband need to have when he does the hafara? How accurate does it have to be?

The Mishna on our daf discusses three cases of misinformation:

  1. When someone thinks that his daughter took the neder, but, in fact it was his wife (or vice versa);
  2. When he thought she had accepted upon herself to be a Nazirite, but, in fact, she had accepted an obligation to bring a sacrifice (or vice versa);
  3. When he thought that she had vowed to refrain from eating figs, when, if fact, her vow forbade her from eating grapes (or vice versa).

In all of these cases, the hafara – which was done in error – needs to be repeated once the actual situation is clarified.

Our Gemara suggests that the source for this halakha is the passage (Bamidbar 30:9) yani otah – that he objects specifically to her vow – which indicates that he knows who made it. The Sifra learns it from an earlier pasuk (see Bamidbar 30:5) ve-he-herish lah – that he remained silent for her neder specifically – again, indicating that he must know the identity of the person who made the neder. While some commentaries say that we extend the rule regarding the identity of the person taking the vow to the other cases as well, the Ri”d suggests that it is only in the first case that we need a biblical source. The other two cases need no source, since the father (or husband) clearly reacted to a different neder than the one that was made.

Some of the ask why we even need a source for the first case – after all, the reaction was an erroneous one! Why should we need a pasuk to teach us that something done in error has no meaning?

Rabbi Yitzhak mi-Karlin, in his Keren Orah,explains that such an argument would be true if, for example, he did hafara thinking that it was his wife who vowed, but had he known that it was his daughter he would not have been mefer. Our Mishna is talking about a case where he would have been mefer in either case, and we need a source to teach that his first hafara cannot be relied upon.

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