February 14, 2023

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 from them, and they may not sell to them and nor may they buy from them.
Clearly, being forbidden from deriving benefit from a particular person means that one may not borrow items or borrow money from them. But the question is why does the Mishna state that one may not lend them items or lend them money? Surely in those cases I am giving them benefit – not the other way around?!
The answer to this question is provided by Abaye in tomorrow’s daf (Nedarim 43a) who explains that our Sages decreed against lending because this leads to borrowing (or, to use the words of Abaye who expresses it from the perspective of the individual that made the vow, גְּזֵירָה לִשְׁאוֹל מִשּׁוּם לְהַשְׁאִיל – it is a decree on the vower from borrowing as it may lead to them lending). And why did our sages suspect that this might happen? Because, as pointed out by the Ritva (Rabbi Yom Tov ben Abraham of Seville, 1260-1320): שדרך השואל להשאיל ודרך הלוה להלוות – ‘it is the way of borrowers of items to lend items, and it is the way of borrowers of money to lend money’ – meaning that normal relationships aren’t just one-sided relationships. Instead, they involve both giving and taking.
For those who’ve never been in one-sided relationships, all this should be glaringly obvious. However, for those who have been or who may currently be in one-sided relationships, where they are always the one putting the effort in the relationship, and where they are always making time for the other and offering a listening ear to the other but not the other way around, this lack of reciprocity from their friend or spouse may well lead them to doubt both the foundation of their relationship, and even, in some cases, doubt themselves. If this is you, then perhaps now is a good time to consider how to address the imbalance of this relationship because, as we learn from today’s daf, real relationships can’t truly be one-sided relationships. Instead, they involve both giving and taking.
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