Saturday, 12 September 2015

Nazir 22: Splitting Hairs re: Nullification

Examining our last Mishna, the rabbis note that a husband is permitted to nullify his wife's vow while maintaining his own vow if he has vowed nazirut and she has said "And I".  They wonder what should be done when a husband says "And I" when his wife vows nazirut.  Can he effectively nullify her vow without annulling his own vow (which is not permitted)?  

What should be done when a woman vows nazirut, another woman says, "And I", and the first woman's husband nullifies her vow.  Is the second woman's vow nullified as well?  Through conversation and logic the rabbis deduce that the second woman's words will determine whether or not her vow is upheld.  

Perhaps a husband does not actually vow nazirut when he says, "And I".  The rabbis suggest that he might be affirming her vow without stating his own.  This would certainly put the blame responsibility upon the wife.

This daf is filled with notes referencing the different results associated with different phrasing.  The rabbis even ascribe intention to people who say things in different ways.  For example, saying "And I" is different from saying "I will walk in your footsteps".  But they would never be able to itemize every possible phrasing.  Why then do they go through this exercise?  Is it to demonstrate the broad stroke possibilities?  Is it to teach aux a way of thinking through a problem?  Or are only the responses listed seen as significant?

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