Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Nedarim 24: Exhortation and Exaggeration

The rabbis consider vows of exhortation.  They use the example of one who says, “if you do not take for your son a kor of wheat and two barrels of wine from me as a gift, benefiting from you is konam for me”.  Such a vow can be dissolved without a halachic authority, because the one who vowed was vowing to uphold his own honour.  The other person can refrain from accepting the gift for the  same reason - to uphold his own honour.

One of the arguments discussed by the rabbis is that of a dog or a king.  One person can say to the other, Am I a dog/king that only one person benefits and the other does not?  The rabbis do not go into the question of benefit – for example, though we give to the king and the king gives nothing, doesn’t the king also benefit from the power and good feeling that is position imposes upon himself?

Again, the rabbis provide examples of vows that are dissolved because those vows are delayed for reasons beyond the person’s control.

A new Mishna teaches us about vows of exaggeration.  These vows are understood as either tools to explain something unusual, or complete fabrications.  One of the examples is, “I take an oath that I saw on this road as many people as those who ascended from Egypt”.  It is not meant to be literal, nor is it held up to be a real oath. 

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