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Erech-vow of a Muflash Samuch La'Ish

Erchin (1:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 2 days ago

This week we begin Masechet Arachin. In the past we have explored the difference between an Erech-vow and a regular neder. The main difference between the two is that if one makes a neder to donate the value of an individual to the Beit HaMikdash, then we need to determine the value of that individual to work out how much he is obligated to pay. If one however commits to give the "erech" of someone, then the amount they must contribute is based one the age and gender of the subject of the erech-vow, as listed in the Torah.

In the second Mishnah we find a debate regarding whether a nochri can make an erech-vow. The debate is based on the how to expand the verses that relate to arachin, with R' Yehuda maintaining they can and R' Meir disagreeing. With respect to nedarim in general however, everyone agrees that they can. A question discussed by the Achronim is considering that a nochri is only obligated in the Noachide laws, what is the nature of this obligation? The same questions applies to a mufla samuch la'ish. Recall that a boy in his thirteenth year, prior to bar mitzvah can make nedarim. Considering that he is not yet obligated in mitzvot, what is the nature of this obligation?^1^

The Minchat Chinuch (350:4) cites the Mishneh Le'Melech (Melchim 10:7), who questions the position of the Tosfot (Avodah Zara 5b s.v. Minayin) that maintain that a nochri's neder to donate to the bedek ha'bayit is also binding. He asks that since the obligation to fulfil a neder is based on the prohibition of lo yachel devaro (do not delay), and that this is not one of the seven Noachide laws, then what is the nature of the obligation. Instead the Mishneh LeMelech explains that the neder is not effective to obligate the nochri at all. Instead the neder works insofar as that the object of the neder, the funds donated, attains the kedusha of hekdesh

The Minchat Chinnuch poses this same question on the Rambam who maintains that a muflah samuch la'ish is obligated to fulfil his neder. The Minchat Chinnuch instead applies that same logic of the Mishneh Le'Melech that the neder is only effective to the extent that the object attains kedusha of hekdesh.

A practical implication of this positions is that even once the katan becomes an adult he would not be obligated to pay the value to hekdesh. It follows that the gizbar (Temple treasurer) could not forcible take a collateral until payment is made, nor could he extract the funds from the estate once this individual died. Put simply, the neder of a muflah samuch la'ish does not create an obligation at all. Once again, it only renders the object of the neder, if designated, as being hekdesh.

The Avnei Miluim (1:2) however disagrees. He maintains that while it is true the obligation does not stem from the laws of nedarim, the obligation is found in the world of monetary law. There is a law when considering hekdesh, that "amira le'gavoah ke'misarah le'hedyot dami". This means that a verbal commitment to hekdesh has the same legal weight as handing an object over from one party to another. In other words, for hekdesh, a verbal commitment alone is considered a complete transaction resulting in a monetary obligation. This financial obligation is binding, and is equivalent to a contractual loan, such that the debt can be collected from his land, including property that has been sold after that point.

In other words, we find that according to the Avnei Miluim there are two components to a neder. One is the neder itself that if left unfilled, one violates the prohibition of lo yachel devaro. There is an additional component, which is the monetary obligation created at the moment one verbally commits to give something to hekdesh. While we find that not everyone is bound by the first element, according to the Aveni Miluim everyone can be obligated by the second.

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