The third perek opens by listing four categories of nedarim that do not need dissolution – they are by definition annulled. One of these categories is nidrei onsin - “forced” nedarim. The Mishnah divides this category in two – nedarim where the fulfilment of the condition is beyond one’s control (3:3) and nedarim where the person is “forced” to make them (3:4). We shall focus on the first of these sub-categories.
The example the Mishnah brings to illustrate is where one makes a neder such that if his friend does not attend a meal at his house then all his property will be prohibited to his friend. Unfortunately, at the allotted time, his friend was unable to attended for reasons beyond his control. Either his friend was unwell or his friend’s son was unwell or a swelled river blocked his path (and there would be an expense to ensure safe passage).
Now even though the case appears much like the category or nidrei zeruzim – nedarim made to convince or push another person – the mefarshim explains that there is a difference. In this case the friend wanted to come anyway; he needed no convincing. The friend however needed the neder to be made in order deflect other competing invitations. This being so, all such cases are defined as nidrei onsin and the neder never takes hold. Why?
The Ran (27a) explains the intention at the time of the neder was that it would take affect if his friend was able to come, but wilfully chose not to. If however there was even a minor ones, e.g. needing to care for his sick son, then that was never intended at the time of the neder. Importantly, the basis of this exemption is logic.
The Ritva here, in contrast, learns that source of the exemption is based on the pasuk “…anything that a person will swear” (ha’adam bi’shvuah) (Vayikra 5:4). The Gemarain Shevu’ot (26b) learns from thispasuk that one’s heart (what he thinks) and his lips (what he articulates) must be in sync when making nedarim or shevu’ot. The Ritva explain while it is true that there is a general principle that in the case of ones one is exempt, the pasuk is required in our case to teach the one is exempt even in minor cases of oneslike the one’s stated in our Mishnah. In other words the scope of the exemption for nedarim is broader.
Interestingly the Ritva in Shevu’ot (26a) explicitly states that the exemption is not based on the pasuk but derived from logic. This is contradiction to the Ritva here and in line with the Ran’s explanation above.
One of the other categories of nedarim is nidrei shegagot, e.g. where one forgot about neder at the time he fulfilled the condition to activate it. HaRav Aharon Yafen1 notes that the Ritva in Shevuot explains that that exemption is based on the pasuk “..ha’adam bishvuah”, yet in our case, by nidrei onsin, he explains that it is based on logic? He answers that there is a difference between the two cases. In the example of nidrei shegagot, the condition of the neder was fulfilled with an action. Consequently the pasuk is required to teach that the action does not have an effect. In our case by contrast, the neder is fulfilled by inaction. Thus logic alone is enough to exempt the neder.
1 Footnotes on Ritva Nedarim, Mossad HaRav Kook
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