Day: February 14, 2023

Nedarim 70

Before offering some thoughts on today’s daf I would like to reflect on today – the Fast of the 10th of Tevet – when we mourn the siege of Jerusalem which, as Rabbi Eliyahu Ki-Tov explains, was ‘the beginning of the whole chain of calamities which finally ended with the destruction of the [First] Beit…

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Nedarim 69

The question was raised in yesterday’s daf (Nedarim 68a) whether, when a husband of a young woman with whom he is halachically engaged (נערה המאורסה) revokes her vow (i.e. הפרת נדרים), does he cut her vow in half (מִיגָּז גָּיֵיז), or does he weaken her entire vow (מִקְלָישׁ קָלֵישׁ)?Interestingly, today’s daf (Nedarim 69a) informs us…

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Nedarim 68

Today’s daf (Nedarim 68a) discusses the laws of הפרת נדרים as they apply to an engaged young woman (נערה המאורסה) whose vows can only be revoked by the interventions of both her father and husband. But how does this concept differ from the laws of התרת נדרים that we’ve been discussing in the past few…

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Nedarim 67

Before delving into our daf it is important to acknowledge that the modern ear struggles to reconcile the laws ofהפרת נדרים , as recorded in Bemidbar 30:4-17, with our general attitudes towards equality – and this includes the topic addressed in the Mishna (Nedarim 10:1) in today’s daf (Nedarim 67a) where the vows of a…

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Nedarim 66

In my commentary on yesterday’s daf I emphasized the importance of fulfilling both mitzvot being adam l’makom and mitzvot bein adam lechaveiro. Then, in my class at Midreshet Lindenbaum on ‘The Thought of Rav Soloveitchik’, I quoted from his 1970 talk on the Asseret HaDibrot (as recorded in ‘The Rav’ Vol. 1 p. 196) where…

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Nedarim 65

Imagine the following situation: Yossi and Shimon are neighbours, and in response to a disagreement between them three weeks ago about where the property boundary is between their two houses, as agitated by where each of them would park their car, Yossi makes a vow which restricts him from giving any benefit to his neighbour…

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Nedarim 64

The theme of today’s daf (Nedarim 64a) is התרת נדרים, meaning ‘the annulment of vows’, with our Mishna (Nedarim 9:1) specifically focusing on the various situations that would justify the annulment of a vow.Interestingly, the Mishna uses the word פתח, meaning ‘opening’, to describe the justification given to annul a vow, and it describes a…

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Nedarim 63

What do you do when you have friends who won’t accept a gift from you? Well, as the Mishna (Nedarim 8:7) in today’s daf (Nedarim 63b) suggests, you may choose to make a vow to force your friend to accept your gift by saying: ‘Konam that which I will benefit from you if you do…

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Nedarim 62

Today’s daf (Nedarim 62a) quotes a powerful Beraita where Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Tzadok makes four powerful statements: ‘make these words [of the Torah] for the sake of their performance; and speak [the words of the Torah] for their own sake. Do not make [the words of Torah] as a crown (עטרה) to…

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Nedarim 61

Within its discussion about ambiguous vows, today’s daf (Nedarim 61a-b) posits that the debate between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yossi in the previous Mishna (Nedarim 8:2, see Nedarim 60a) is based on the fact that Rabbi Meir is of the opinion that לָא מְעַיֵּיל אִינִישׁ נַפְשֵׁיהּ לִסְפֵיקָא – ‘a person does not intentionally place themselves…

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Nedarim 60

On a number of occasions in Massechet Nedarim (14a, 21b & in today’s daf 60a), we encounter the phrase שאלה לחכם – literally, ‘a question to a Sage’ – which refers to a situation when someone approaches a Sage to annul their vow. However, at least on first glance, this phrase seems mismatched with its…

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Nedarim 59

Today’s daf (Nedarim 59b) raises a question about the repetition of the word עַשֵּׂר (meaning ‘tithe’) in the verse: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ – ‘tithe, you shall tithe, all the produce of your seed’ (Devarim 14:22), and it answers (as explained by the Ran) that there are times when there is a duty…

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Nedarim 58

Last night I spoke with a spiritual-coaching client who was wrestling with a difficult decision. They already knew what they needed to do, but they were holding themselves back because their decision involved a ‘yerida letzorech aliyah’ – a short-term descent for the sake of a long-term ascent. Consequently, they sought my advice to help…

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Nedarim 57

When I learn daf yomi and other texts, I see my task as trying to understand both the content of the text and its context; both what is being taught in a text and what is going on in that text. Sometimes this is easily achieved. While other times it involves considerable investigation and the…

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Nedarim 56

The Mishna (Nedarim 7:5) in today’s daf (Nedarim 56b) teaches us that someone who has made a vow prohibiting them from entering a particular home (בית) is forbidden to enter the doorframe of that home or be in any other part of that home. What we learn from here is that the boundaries of a…

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Nedarim 55

Today’s daf (Nedarim 55a) includes an insight, or to be more accurate, an outlook and a philosophy, which I endeavour to follow. Rav Yosef asks Rava: “what is the meaning of ‘And from the Midbar (wilderness) Matana, and from Matana Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel Bamot” (Bemidbar 21:18-19)’? Significantly, the reason for Rav Yosef asking this…

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Nedarim 54

If you’ve ever done an online order with a supermarket, then you’ve likely experienced receiving a product which, rather it being the product that you ordered which is produced by your preferred brand, it is the same product but produced by another brand.Admittedly, there are some people who just shrug such things off.However, there are…

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Nedarim 53

‘If someone makes a vow while they are in Israel prohibiting themselves from oil, then they are permitted to have sesame oil but prohibited to have olive oil, whereas if someone makes a vow while they are in Babylon prohibiting themselves from oil, then they are prohibited to have sesame oil and permitted to have…

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Nedarim 52

The Mishna (Nedarim 6:6-7) in today’s daf (Nedarim 52a) presents us with a general rule about the flavour (טעם) of a prohibited food. For example, according to Rabbi Tarfon, if someone made a vow prohibiting themselves from meat, and eggs were then cooked with that meat in a pot, then those eggs are also forbidden…

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Nedarim 51

Within its discussion about the meanings of words used in vows, today’s daf (Nedarim 51b) addresses the question of the difference between someone who forbids themselves from a דג (‘dag’ – fish), and someone who forbids themselves from a דגה (‘dagah’ – another word for fish)?The Gemara initially answers by claiming that the former is…

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Nedarim 50

In my commentary to today’s daf (Nedarim 50a), I would like to reference some of the ideas that I previously mentioned in my remarks on Yevamot 62b (https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-62/) while adding some further insights based on additional details mentioned in our daf.As I explained there, Rabbi Akiva had a very broad admissions policy to his yeshiva.…

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Nedarim 49

Today’s daf (Nedarim 49b) relates how a certain Roman noblewoman who saw Rabbi Yehuda with such a radiant face that she erroneously drew the conclusion that he must have been drunk, critically retorted to him, “How can a rabbi who makes religious decisions be someone who is drunk?!”. To this, Rabbi Yehuda replied that he…

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Nedarim 48

Today’s daf (Nedarim 48b) tells a story of a father whose son was known to steal bundles of flax. Frustrated and disappointed, the father made a vow forbidding his son from inheriting his property. However, he was then approached by some local Rabbis who asked: ‘What if your son becomes a Torah scholar? (i.e. what…

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Nedarim 47

A Beraita is quoted in today’s daf (Nedarim 47b) stating that, ‘If one says to his wife, “Benefiting from me is konam for you”, she may [nevertheless] borrow [money to sustain herself], and the creditors can come and collect [her debts from her husband]’.The problem is that, if we momentarily put aside the serious question…

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Nedarim 46

In this attempt to explain the Mishna (Nedarim 1:5) in today’s daf (Nedarim 46a), I would like to highlight a misunderstanding of the Ra’avad (Rabbi Abraham ben David, 1125-1198), who claims that the Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1138-1204) misunderstood the Mishna, but which, as noted by the Radbaz (Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Zimra,…

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Nedarim 45

The Mishna (Nedarim 5:1) in today’s daf (Nedarim 45b) informs us of a situation of partners (שּׁוּתָּפִין) of a courtyard who each make a vow forbidding themselves from deriving benefit from each other. According to the first opinion in the Mishna, the result of such a vow is that neither partner can then enter the…

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Nedarim 44

Have you ever sent an email which you then wanted to take back before it was received? Nowadays, Gmail has a setting called ‘Undo Send’ which allows you to do so – but only within 30 seconds of sending the email. What this means is that while we may regret sending a message, our ability…

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Nedarim 43

Imagine Judy is the kind of person who is easily angered and who, in the heat of her anger, can say hurtful things to others. Moreover, imagine that Judy is not only the kind of person who is justifiably prepared to distance herself from those who upset or hurt her, but she also, figuratively speaking,…

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Nedarim 42

The Mishna (Nedarim 4:6) at the end of today’s daf (Nedarim 42b) tells us that someone who is bound by a vow that forbids them from benefitting from their fellow may not lend them items and nor may they borrow items from them; they may not lend them money and nor may they borrow money…

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Nedarim 41

Today’s daf (Nedarim 41a) relates how Rebbi (Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi) – who would learn his Torah out loud (nb. on the importance of learning out loud and not just in silence see Bruria’s teaching on Eruvin 53a) – created a system of identifying thirteen different ways to make sense of any given halacha. Unfortunately, when…

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Nedarim 40

We are taught by Rav Dimi in today’s daf (Nedarim 40a) that the act of visiting the sick significantly enhances the prayers that one says for the sick person. This is because by being present and by seeing the person who is unwell, one’s heart is stirred even more than it would be when just…

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Nedarim 39

Today’s daf (Nedarim 39b) includes a teaching of Resh Lakish who asks: רֶמֶז לְבִיקּוּר חוֹלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן? – ‘Where do we find a hint in the Torah to visiting the sick?’. His answer is a verse from Bemidbar 16:29 (where God speaks just before the earth opens up in response to the rebellion of…

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Nedarim 38

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 38b) makes reference to a כּוֹס שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם (literally, ‘a cup of peace’). However, we are then told that there is a debate as to what this is referring to.According to the Torah scholars of Babylon, it is a כּוֹס שֶׁל בֵּית הָאֵבֶל – the cup offered to a mourner while mourning…

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Nedarim 37

As a continuation of its explanation of Mishna Nedarim 4:3, yesterday’s daf (Nedarim 36b) quoted a statement of Shmuel that while a teacher may receive payment for teaching scripture (i.e. תורה שבכתב), they may not receive payment for teaching Midrash, [Halachot and Aggadot] (i.e. תורה שבעל פה). The question asked in today’s daf (Nedarim 37a)…

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Nedarim 36

 There is a fascinating discussion in today’s daf (Nedarim 36b) about whether doing a mitzvah which benefits another needs their consent? Specifically, the Gemara addresses whether someone can take it upon themselves to remove an extra amount of terumah (tithes) from their produce so that their friend need not have to take tithes from their…

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Nedarim 35

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 35b) raises the question of whether Kohanim are שלוחי דרחמנא (agents of God), or שלוחי דידן (agents of us, i.e. the Jewish people). If the former, then were we to make a vow to forbid us from benefitting from a Kohen the vow would then be invalid because the Kohen ultimately an…

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Nedarim 34

A case is presented by Rav Chiya bar Avin in today’s daf (Nedarim 34b) about someone who makes a vow, saying: “my loaf of bread is forbidden [as if it would have been consecrated to the Temple] to you (i.e. a specific person which that individual identifies)” and then gives the loaf of bread to…

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Nedarim 33

 As part of our Gemara’s discussion about the making of oaths, reference is made in today’s daf (Nedarim 33b) to Mishna Ketubot 13:2 which informs us that ‘if someone went overseas and left his wife [and family] without providing financial support, and someone then provided that woman [and family] with funds during the husband’s absence,…

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Nedarim 32

Today’s daf (Nedarim 32a) records, on the basis of Bereishit 15:5, how Avraham gazed at his Mazal (his astrological signs) and concluded that he was destined to have just one son (i.e. Yishmael). In response, God told Avraham to look beyond what he could see because אֵין מַזָּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל – ‘Israel (i.e. the Jewish people)…

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Nedarim 31

The Mishna (Nedarim 3:11) in today’s daf (Nedarim 31b) contains a statement that calls for further explanation. Specifically, we are informed that אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ לֹא נִקְרָא שָׁלֵם עַד שֶׁמָּל – ‘Avraham our forefather was not referred to as being complete until he was circumcised’, as we learn from Bereishit 17:1 where God commands Avraham הִתְהַלֵּךְ…

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Nedarim 30

(TRIGGER WARNING: In this piece I make reference to childlessness, miscarriages and the loss of a child)Chodesh Tov!There are times while, when learning the Mishna & Gemara, we must ask ourselves the simple question: “Why?” – and I believe that this certainly applies to the Mishna (Nedarim 3:9) found in today’s daf (Nedarim 30b) which…

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Nedarim 29

There is a fascinating phrase which is used twice in today’s daf (Nedarim 29a-b): ‘physical sanctity (literally, ‘the sanctity of the body’) does not depart of its own accord, but monetary sanctity does depart of its own accord’ – קְדוּשַּׁת הַגּוּף לָא פָּקְעָה בִּכְדִי, קְדוּשַּׁת דָּמִים פָּקְעָה בִּכְדִי.What this means is that if money is…

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Nedarim 28

Is it permissible to make a vow about the status of your property when confronting thieves who enter your home in order to steal your property?This is the question addressed by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel in the Mishna (Nedarim 3:4) found in today’s daf (Nedarim 28a), and while both conclude by saying ‘yes’, they…

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Nedarim 27

I previously explained in my commentary to Nedarim 23a that certain vows, known as נִדְרֵי אֳנָסִים, are considered to be invalid if unforeseen circumstances occur which impede the person who made the vow from fulfilling their vow.In today’s daf (Nedarim 27b) we continue to explore this theme while discussing some of the examples given in…

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Nedarim 26

“Had I known that…” (אִילּוּ הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁ…). These are the words used in today’s daf (Nedarim 26a) which discusses the laws pertaining to נִדְרֵי שְׁגָגוֹת (unintentional vows) where a person made a vow restricting themselves from benefitting from a group of people or items but didn’t realize that their vow included people or items…

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Nedarim 25

Today’s daf (Nedarim 25a) mentions a foundational principle of Jewish thought and Jewish practice which is referenced in passing during a discussion about the intent of a person when making an oath.In terms of the source of this foundational principle, it is Devarim 29:13 where we read how Moshe – just days before his death…

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Nedarim 24

In a previous Mishna (Nedarim 3:1) we were taught about various vows which, given the circumstances in which they were uttered, are considered to be invalid. And among these is the category of נִדְרֵי אֳנָסִים – ‘vows whose fulfilment is impeded by circumstances beyond one’s control’.On this theme, today’s daf (Nedarim 24a) cites a later…

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Nedarim 23

I’ve always been interested in exploring the human stories which have served as springboards for the development of halacha. And similarly, I believe that it is crucial that a Rabbi understands the context and background of the people who seek their halachic guidance. With this in mind, I’d like to examine an episode recorded in…

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Nedarim 22

Today’s daf (Nedarim 22b) contains a teaching from Rabbah bar Rav Huna that, ‘whoever gets angry [indicates that] even the divine presence is not important before him (אינה חשובה כנגדו), as it says, “Someone involved in wickedness, at the height of their anger, [thinks] ‘He (i.e. God) will not seek’ (בַּל יִדְרֹשׁ) and all his…

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Nedarim 21

So far in our study of Massechet Nedarim we have spoken about the specific words that are needed to be verbalized in order make a valid vow. However, we are taught in Mishna Nedarim (3:1) that there are certain circumstances when even if someone did use the correct ‘vow terminology’, their vow is invalid. And…

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Nedarim 20

Today’s daf (Nedarim 20a-b) records a startling episode which leads me to suggest that there is much more to it than meets the eye.We are taught: ‘The asked Imma Shalom (who was the wife of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and the sister of Rabban Gamliel): “How come your children are so beautiful?” Imma Shalom replied,…

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Nedarim 19

Today’s daf (Nedarim 19b) compares the laws of a נזיר ודאי – ‘a definite nazir’ with a נזיר ספק – ‘a doubtful nazir’, and explains that the latter is treated more strictly than the former: ‘whereas a definite nazir may shave [his hair] and bring an offering which is eaten [when the period of Nezirut…

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Nedarim 18

The Mishna (Nedarim 2:4) in today’s daf (Nedarim 18b) draws two parallel distinctions between those residing in Judea and those living in the Galilee.Firstly, according to Rabbi Yehuda, a non-specific vow referencing ‘terumah’ (סתם תרומה) made by those in Judea is binding, while it is not binding if made by someone in the Galilee. This…

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Nedarim 17

If you want to understand the difference between muti-tasking and muti-focussing, a good place to start is the Mishna (Nedarim 2:3) in today’s daf (Nedarim 17a).To get a sense of context, this Mishna is part of a series of Mishnayot comparing נדרים (vows) with שבועות (oaths) which, as I noted in my commentary to yesterday’s…

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Nedarim 16

The Mishna (Nedarim 2:2) in today’s daf (Nedarim 16a) contrasts שבועות (oaths) with נדרים (vows) and states that if someone were to vow ‘Konam – a sukkah that I make’, or ‘Konam – a lulav that I take’, or ‘[Konam] – tefillin that I put on’, then this vow would be effective and would prohibit…

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Nedarim 15

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Nedarim 2:1) about certain situations when someone utters words that, though they may sound like a vow, are not formally considered to be a vow. Still, the Mishna informs us that if such a person does not fulfil what they said they would do, they have contravened the…

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Nedarim 14

Why do people make vows, especially when those vows express their desire to make positive changes in their Jewish life?Admittedly, there are countless scenarios that may prompt a person to make such a vow. Nevertheless, I believe that today’s daf (Nedarim 14b) alludes to the two types of major events that often serve as an…

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Nedarim 13

There is an interesting debate between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel as recorded in Mishna Kiddushin 3:4 and referenced on numerous occasions in Massechet Nedarim, whether מִכְּלָל לָאו אַתָּה שׁוֹמֵעַ הֵן – ‘from a negative statement you can infer a positive statement’, meaning that if someone says that they won’t do something, can…

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Nedarim 12

I would like to share a teaching from today’s daf (Nedarim 12a) whose application motivates so much of what I think and do.We are taught that if someone said, “I hereby undertake that I will neither eat meat nor drink wine as on the day on which my father died”, or “as on the day…

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Nedarim 11

The previous Mishna (Nedarim 1:3; Nedarim 10b) raises the question of the efficacy of someone using the term כִּירוּשָׁלָיִם – ‘like Jerusalem’ as an expression of a vow. Does this term sufficiently communicate the likely intention of the individual making a vow that something is to be sanctified ‘like [a sacrifice in] Jerusalem’? Or is…

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Nedarim 10

  Having previously been taught that vows can be made through invoking formal vow-making formulas as well as certain alternative expressions (כינויים), today’s daf (Nedarim 10a) records an apparent disagreement between Rav Yochanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish about the origins of these halachically approved כינויים (alternative expressions).According to Rav Yochanan, these כינויים are לשון אומות…

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Nedarim 9

Today’s daf (Nedarim 9b) tells a story that calls for further explanation.We begin with Shimon HaTzaddik who was a Kohen Gadol for 40 years and who attests to the fact that ‘in all my days’ (i.e. all the while that I was a Kohen Gadol), I refrained from eating the Asham offering of a Nazir…

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Nedarim 8

Yesterday Israel went to the polls, and though the count is yet to be completed, there is an overall consensus about the predicted result. Like every election, not all people feel the same way about this outcome. There are some who are delighted, some who are relieved, some who are disappointed, and some who are…

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Nedarim 7

Today is election day in Israel, and I will soon be fulfilling my right and privilege to vote as a citizen of the State of Israel. Given this, when I opened and studied today’s daf (Nedarim 7) I did so with an intense awareness of my feelings about the current and possible future state of…

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Nedarim 6

In my commentary to yesterday’s daf (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/nedarim-5/) I discussed the concept of ידים (literally, ‘handles’), which is the term our Rabbis use to describe a situation when only part of a vow-making formula is expressed from which the intention to make a particular vow can be inferred.With this in mind, Rav Pappa raises a…

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