Introduction to Nedarim

Nedarim | Yisrael Bankier | 15 years ago

In general there are two forms of nedarim. One is where one volunteers to offer a sacrifice in the Beit Ha’Mikdashnidrei hekdesh. The second is where a person forbids himself from gaining any benefit from a particular object – nidrei issur. It is this latter category of neder that is the subject of this masechet.

Nidrei issur is learnt from the following pasuk:

If a man makes a vow to Hashem, or makes an oath to obligate himself he must not break his word.(Bamidbar 30:3)

Despite the many detailed halachot, the Gemara (Nedarim 22a) is quite critical of one who makes a neder:

It was taught in a beraitah: R’ Natan said, if one makes a neder, it is as if he built a bamah (an alter outside the Beit Ha’Mikdash), and one who fulfils it, it is as if he offered on [the bamah] a korban.

One may ask, if making nedarim is problematic, why then is the fulfilment of the neder compared to offering a korban outside the Beit Ha’Mikdash?

The Kli Yakar (Bamidbar 30:3) explains as follows. There are two situations in which one may make a neder. The first can be in a fit of anger, where in the heat of the moment a person blurts out a neder. The second is where one is cool, calm and collected and consciously decides to make a neder.

It is this latter category which the Chachamim had the insight into the motivation of one that makes such a neder. The Chachamim perceived that such a person is extremely haughty, by separating themselves from the rest of the community and forbidding for themselves that which is permissible to all others. Indeed elsewhere the Gemara (Sotah 4b) treats haughty individuals as if they have built an individual alter outside the Beit Ha’Mikdash.

Yet as there are two circumstances under which one can make a neder it is not immediately obvious why a person made a neder. The Kli Yakar however explains that if someone indeed fulfils the neder then we know that this person belongs to the latter category. This is because, if the neder was formulated at a time of anger, once the person cools down, he would surely go to a Chacham to “undo” the neder. If however the neder was fulfilled then it is clear that the neder was motivated by pride. The korban was offered up on the bamah, the very purpose for which this bamah was constructed.


Weekly Publication

Receive our publication with an in depth article and revision questions.

Subscribe Now »

Audio Shiurim

Listen to the Mishnah Shiurim by Yisrael Bankier

Listen Now »