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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 13a

that flesh of a firstling lay before him, and this other flesh lay at its side, and he declared, 'this be as this,' and [thus] it is a controversy of Tannaim?1  — No. All treat of before the sprinkling of the blood; and what is the reason of him who permits it? The Writ States, If a man vow,2  [teaching] that one must vow by that which is [itself] forbidden through a vow; thus excluding a firstling, which is an interdicted thing. And he who forbids it?3  — The Writ states, 'unto the Lord,'2  to include an interdicted thing.4  Then he who permits it, how does he interpret 'unto the Lord'? — He employs it in respect of relating [a vow] to a sin-offering or a guilt-offering.5  Now, what [reason] do you see to include a sin-offering and a guilt-offering and exclude the firstling? — I include the sin-offering and the guilt-offering which one sanctifies6  by a vow,7  but exclude the firstling, which is holy from its mother's womb. But he who forbids?8  A firstling too one sanctifies by a vow. For it was taught: It was said on the authority of Rabbi, Whence do we know that one is bidden to consecrate the firstling born in one's house? — From the verse, [All] the firstling males [that come of thy herd and thy flock] thou shalt sanctify [unto the Lord].9  But he who permits it [argues thus]: If he does not consecrate it, is it not holy?10

 … AS THE LAMB, AS THE TEMPLE SHEDS etc. It was taught: A lamb, for a lamb, as a lamb; [or] sheds, for sheds, as sheds; [or] wood, for wood, as wood; [or] fire, for fire, as fire; [or] the altar, for the altar, as the altar; [or] the temple, for the temple, as the temple; or Jerusalem, for Jerusalem, as Jerusalem, — in all these cases, [if he says,] 'what I might eat of yours,' he is forbidden; 'what I might not eat of yours,' he is permitted.

Now which Tanna do we know draws no distinction between a lamb, for a lamb and as a lamb? — R. Meir.11  Then consider the second clause: and in all these cases, [if he says], 'that which I might not eat of yours [be so],' he is permitted. But we learnt: [If one says to his neighbour,] 'That which I might not eat of yours be not for korban, R. Meir forbids [him]. Now R. Abba commented thereon: It is as though he said, 'Let it [i.e., your food] be for korban, therefore I may not eat of yours'? — This is no difficulty: in the one case he said, 'lo le-imra';12  in the other he said, 'le-imra'.13 

MISHNAH. IF ONE SAYS [TO HIS NEIGHBOUR], 'THAT WHICH I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS BE KORBAN', [OR]' A BURNT-OFFERING',14  [OR] 'A MEAL-OFFERING', [OR]' A SIN-OFFERING [OR] 'A THANKSGIVING-OFFERING', [OR]' A PEACE-OFFERING, — HE IS FORBIDDEN.15  R. JUDAH PERMITTED [HIM].16  [IF HE SAYS,] 'THE KORBAN,' [OR] 'AS A KORBAN,' [OR]' KORBAN,17  BE THAT WHICH I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS,' HE IS FORBIDDEN.18  IF HE SAYS: THAT WHICH I MIGHT NOT EAT OF YOURS BE FOR A KORBAN,'19  R. MEIR FORBIDS [HIM].

GEMARA. Now, the Mishnah teaches, [IF HE SAYS.] 'THE KORBAN,' [OR] 'AS KORBAN,' [OR] 'A KORBAN BE THAT WHICH I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS,' HE IS FORBIDDEN. Thus, it is anonymously taught as R. Meir, who recognises no distinction between 'it sheep' and 'for a sheep'.20  But if so, then as to what he [the Tanna] teaches: 'THE KORBAN … [BE] THAT WHICH I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS,' HE IS FORBIDDEN. But it was taught: The Sages concede to R. Judah that if one says, 'Oh, korban,' or 'Oh, burnt-offering,' 'Oh, meal-offering,' 'Oh, sin-offering, what I will eat this of thine,' he is permitted, because he merely vowed by the life of the korban!21  —

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Whether the reference is to its present (permitted) state or to its original (forbidden) condition.
  2. Num. XXX, 3.
  3. What is his reason?
  4. This will not apply to all Divinely forbidden things, but only to such as the firstling, as the Talmud proceeds to explain.
  5. That the vow is valid.
  6. Lit., 'seizes'.
  7. Though one cannot offer these as vows, without having incurred the obligation, the actual animal is forbidden as a result of the vow of consecration, since another could equally well have been sacrificed.
  8. How will he meet this argument?
  9. Deut. XV, 19. Thus, though Divinely consecrated, yet its owner must formally declare it holy, and hence it may be regarded as subject to a vow.
  10. Of course it is! Hence its interdict is not the result of a vow.
  11. Since R. Judah rules that if one says Jerusalem, without 'for' or 'as', the vow is invalid.
  12. 'Let it not be for the lamb' — hence it is permitted. [So cur. edd. MS.M. and Ran read: In one case he said la'-imra; 'let it not be the lamb'. V. supra. p. 28, n. 8.]
  13. 'Let it be for the lamb' — there he is forbidden.
  14. [The two may also be taken together and thus rendered 'a sacrifice of a burnt-offering'.]
  15. To eat aright of his neighbour's.
  16. Because he did not say, 'as a sacrifice', etc.
  17. In this last case korban is used as an oath: I swear by the sacrifice to eat naught of thine.
  18. Vowing by means of korban formula was a specifically Jewish practice: v. Josephus, Contra Apionem, 1, 22, Halevy, Doroth I, 3, pp. 314 f.
  19. In the Gemara these words are subsequently otherwise interpreted, but in the promise they are thus translated.
  20. V. supra p. 33, n. 6.
  21. That he would eat. Then why not assume the same in our Mishnah?
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Nedarim 13b

This is no difficulty: Here he said ha korban,'1  there he said ha-korban.2  What is the reason?3  He meant, '[I swear] by the life of the sacrifice.'4  He [the Tanna] teaches: THAT WHICH I MIGHT NOT EAT OF YOURS BE NOT FOR KORBAN, R. MEIR FORBIDS HIM. But R. Meir does not rule that the positive may be inferred from the negative?5  R. Abba answered: it is as though he said: 'Let it be for korban, therefore I will not eat of yours'.6

MISHNAH. IF ONE SAYS TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, 'KONAM BE MY MOUTH SPEAKING WITH YOU,' [OR] 'MY HANDS WORKING FOR YOU,' [OR] 'MY FEET WALKING WITH YOU,' HE IS FORBIDDEN.7

GEMARA. But a contradiction is shown: There is greater stringency in oaths than in vows, and greater stringency in vows than in oaths. There is greater stringency in vows, for vows apply to obligatory as to optional matters,8  which is not so in the case of oaths.9  And there is greater stringency in oaths, for oaths are valid with respect to things both abstract and concrete, but vows are not so?10  — Said Rab Judah: It means that he says,11  'let my mouth be forbidden in respect of my speech,' or 'my hands in respect of their work', or 'my feet in respect of their walking'.12  This may be inferred too, for he [the Tanna] teaches: 'MY MOUTH SPEAKING WITH YOU,' not, ['konam] if I speak with you'.13

CHAPTER II

MISHNAH. NOW THESE ARE PERMITTED:14  [HE WHO SAYS,] WHAT I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS BE HULLIN,' 'AS THE FLESH OF THE SWINE, AS THE OBJECT OF IDOLATROUS WORSHIP,'15  AS PERFORATED HIDES,'16  'AS NEBELOTH AND TEREFOTH',17  AS ABOMINATIONS AND REPTILES, AS AARON'S DOUGH OR HIS TERUMAH',18  — [IN ALL THESE CASES] HE IS PERMITTED. IF ONE SAYS TO HIS WIFE, 'BEHOLD! THOU ART UNTO ME AS MY MOTHER,'19  HE MUST BE GIVEN AN OPENING ON OTHER GROUNDS,20  IN ORDER THAT HE SHOULD NOT ACT FRIVOLOUSLY IN SUCH MATTERS.21

GEMARA. Now, the reason is because he said, 'WHAT I MIGHT EAT OF YOURS BE HULLIN'; but if he said, 'What I might eat of yours be lehullin,' it would imply: let it not be hullin but a korban.22  Whose view is taught in our Mishnah? If R. Meir's, but he does not hold

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. The ha being a separate word, and thus an interjection expressing an affirmative oath — I will eat. [The vowel of the ha as interjection is, in addition, of a longer quality than that of ha as definite article.]
  2. Here the ha is an inseparate def. art.; hence he must have meant, 'What I might eat of yours he a sacrifice', and therefore he is forbidden.
  3. Of the Baraitha, that he is permitted.
  4. That I will eat of yours.
  5. And according to our premise the reason for R. Meir's ruling is that we deduce the opposite from his words, thus: 'but that which I might eat of thine be for korban'.
  6. V. p. 28, n. 8.
  7. According to the terms of his vow.
  8. I.e., if one said, 'I am forbidden by a vow to erect a sukkah (v. Glos.), or put on tefillin', (v. Glos.) the vow is binding, although he is bound to do these things. and if he does them, he violates the injunction he shall not break his word.
  9. I.e., if he said, 'I swear not to erect a sukkah, his oath is invalid.
  10. Vows being applicable to concrete things only. Walking, talking and working are regarded here as abstractions (by contrast with the vow that a loaf of broad etc shall be as a sacrifice and forbidden), yet the Mishnah states that the vows are valid.
  11. I.e., it is regarded as though he says.
  12. The reason for this assumption is this: the konam of the Mishnah may refer either to my mouth (concrete) or to my talking (abstract). In the former case the vow would be valid, but not in the latter. Since it is not clear which, we adopt the more rigorous interpretation.
  13. In which case the speaking would be the object of the vow: the speaking being abstract, the vow would be invalid.
  14. I.e., invalid.
  15. Lit., 'as the worship of stars'.
  16. The hide was perforated opposite the heart, which was cut out from the living animal and offered to the idol. Cf. 'A.Z. 29b and 32a.
  17. V. Glos. s.v. nebelah (pl. nebeloth) and terefoth (pl. terefoth).
  18. V. supra 12a, a.l.
  19. I.e., forbidden.
  20. Lit., 'from another place'. I.e., when he wishes his vow to be annulled, the Rabbi, who must find for him some grounds of regret to invalidate his vow, must not do so by pointing out that such a vow is derogatory to his mother's dignity.
  21. His mother's honour is too easy a ground for regret, and if the vow is invalidated on that score it is an encouragement to make such vows lightly, since they can easily be annulled. The making of vows was discouraged: cf. 9a.
  22. And the vow would be binding.
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