Sunday, 28 June 2015

Nedarim 35: Examples of Benefiting Though One's Vow Forbids Benefiting

The Gemara continues to help us clarify specific exceptions to vows that are made to forbid benefit from another person.  They discuss the details of each example in some detail.  Both cows and spades are used to help us understand what happens if a person has more than one of the items that has been specified in the vow.  The rabbis understand property law from this point: a person must actually own the item in question for the vow to take effect.  

Another set of examples is concerned with vows regarding consecrated items.   Does the transgression of 'misuse of consecrated property' come into play in cases where an item is vowed to be konam?  The rabbis consider complex cases, where a person is returning a lost item and receives payment.  What is to be done if that payment must be consecrated to the Temple? 

Amud (b) begins with a new Mishna speaking of how benefit might continue even after a vow against benefiting is enacted.  Separating one's teruma from his tithes, sacrificing one's bird nests - including those of zavot and mothers after childbirth, sin-offerings, guilt offerings, and teaching. One can be taught midrash, halachot, aggadot, but not Torah - although one can teach his children Torah.

The rabbis question whether priests are our agent or agents of Heaven when they perform Temple rites.  This suggests that priests are able to perform their rights even if vows are forbidding those actions.  As agent of Heaven, priests have a higher set of obligations.

In discussing the Mishna's references to women after childbirth and zavot, the Gemara asks who is included in these situations.  Are minors included when referring to women who have had children?  No, the rabbis determine, because minors are permitted to use 'contraceptive reabsorbents', barriers to pregnancy, for pregnancy could result in their deaths.  Along the same line of thinking but with an opposite result, husbands are responsible to bring offerings for their wives who are 'imbeciles'.  

Through their discussion, the rabbis decide that husbands must always bring offerings for their wives, regardless of their wives' status or intelligence.  A wealthy husband is responsible for his poor wife's offerings.  In fact, financial responsibility for one's wife's debts is written into the ketuba.  

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