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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 73a

— Here too it means that he said, 'When I hear of it, annul it.' But when he hears it, let him annul it himself? — He fears, I may then be busily occupied.

Rami b. Hama propounded: Can a deaf man disallow [the vows of] his wife? Now, should you rule that a husband can annul without hearing, that is because he is capable of hearing; but a deaf man, who is incapable of hearing, falls within R. Zera's dictum, viz., That which is eligible for mixing, [the lack of] mixing does not hinder its validity; whilst that which is not eligible for mixing, [the lack of] mixing hinders its validity?1  Or perhaps, 'and her husband heard it'2  is not indispensable? — Said Raba, Come and hear: 'And her husband heard', — this excludes the wife of a deaf man. This proves it.

The scholars propounded: Can a husband disallow [the vows of] his two wives simultaneously: is the word 'her' particularly stated, or not?3  — Said Rabina, Come and hear: Two suspected wives are not made to drink4  simultaneously, because each is emboldened5  by her companion.6  R. Judah said: It is not [forbidden] on that score, but because it is written, and he shall make her drink.'7  implying, her alone.8

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. The reference is to a meal-offering, in which the flour was mixed with oil. Not more than sixty 'esronim ('isaron, pl. 'esronim, is the tenth part of an ephah) could be thoroughly mixed with oil in the vessels used for that purpose. Hence, if a person vowed a meal-offering of sixty-one 'esronim, sixty were brought in one vessel, and one in another. Whereon R. Zera observed, though the meal-offering is in fact valid even if not mixed with oil at all, it must be capable of being mixed, and therefore sixty-one esronim in one utensil would be invalid. So here too, though it may be unnecessary for the husband actually to hear the vow, he must be physically able to hear it.
  2. I.e., the hearing of the husband.
  3. Num. XXX, 9, 'but if her husband disallow her'. I.e., when Scripture uses the singular 'her' in this connection, does it expressly teach that only one wife can be disallowed at a time, or is no particular emphasis to be laid thereon, the singular being the usual mode of expression?
  4. V. Num. V, 2 ff.
  5. Lit., 'her heart swells'.
  6. The consciousness that another is undergoing the same ordeal emboldens each not to confess.
  7. Ibid. 74; In Tosef. Neg. the verse quoted is, and the Priest shall bring her near, ibid. 16. [MS.M. reads: because it is written 'her', the reference either to verse 16 or 19, 'The priest shall cause her to swear'. V. Sot. (Sonc. ed.) p. 32. n. 2.]
  8. Hence the same applies to vows: in R. Judah's view, two wives cannot have their vows disallowed simultaneously; in the opinion of the first Tanna, they can.
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Nedarim 73b


GEMARA. Rabbah said: R. Eliezer and the early Mishnah3  taught the same thing. For we learnt; A virgin is given twelve months to provide for herself.4  When the twelve months expire,5  she must be supported by him [i.e., her arus] and may eat terumah.6  But the yabam7  does not authorize her to eat terumah.8  If she spent six months in the lifetime of9  her husband [the arus], and six months in that of the yabam,10  or even the whole period less one day in the lifetime of her husband, or the whole period less one day in that of the yabam, she may not eat terumah: this is the early Mishnah. But a subsequent Beth din11  rules: No woman can partake of terumah until she enters the huppah.12  Said Abaye to him, Perhaps it is not so. The early Mishnah informs us in respect of [her] eating terumah, which is [forbidden merely by] a Rabbinical enactment;13  but as for vows, which are Biblically binding, I may say that it is not so. And you know R. Eliezer's view14  only in respect to vows for the reason which R. Phinehas said in Raba's name, viz.: Every [woman] who vows, vows conditionally upon her husband's assent.15  But as for terumah, it may well be that though [forbidden only by] a Rabbinical precept,16  she may not eat thereof.

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. V. supra 70b.
  2. V. supra, 70b.
  3. 'Early Mishnah' bears various connotations. Sometimes it simply means the earlier view of a particular school, which subsequently gave a different ruling (v. Hag. 2a, where, however, the term does not occur in the Mishnah itself but is used by an Amora to differentiate between the earlier and the later views of Beth Hillel). Elsewhere it may denote the collection of Mishnaic material made by the 'elders of Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel'; as such it is brought into contrast with the rulings of later Rabbis, e.g., R. Akiba; v. Sanh. III, 4; 'Ed. VII, 2. But it is also used to differentiate between the views of earlier and later Rabbis. Thus, in the present instance, the term connotes the views of R. Tarfon and R. Akiba (v. Keth. 57a), with which 'a later Beth din' (v. text infra) differed; here, too the term is so used by an Amora.
  4. I.e., to make the necessary preparations for marriage, such as acquiring a trousseau; the reference is to an arusah, and twelve months is the maximum that may elapse before the nissu'in without either side having legal cause for complaint.
  5. While nissu'in was still postponed.
  6. If the daughter of an Israelite is betrothed to a priest, she may eat terumah, as is deduced from Lev. XXII, 11. By a Rabbinical law, however, she is forbidden until after the nissu'in: but if twelve months have elapsed, she is permitted.
  7. The levir, v. Glos.
  8. V. n. 5: on the priest's death she reverts to her former status, and even if there is no issue, so that she is bound to marry the yabam, this tie does not permit her to eat terumah.
  9. Lit., 'in the presence of'.
  10. I.e., the arus having died within the twelve months.
  11. 'Beth din', which is now generally taken to mean a court of law, was originally the court or college which decided on civil and religious questions; (v. J.E., s.v. Beth din.)
  12. V. Glos. i.e., until the home-taking, v. Keth. 57a. — Thus both R. Eliezer in our Mishnah and the early Mishnah maintain that after twelve months they are regarded as completely married: R. Eliezer, in that the husband can annul her vows; the early Mishnah, in that his wife may eat terumah.
  13. V. p. 231, n. 5.
  14. That the period of twelve months establishes quasi nissu'in.
  15. Though the stipulation is not expressed, in recognition of her dependence upon him, since he maintains her. Hence the same holds good of an arus after twelve months, who also must provide for her.
  16. This interpretation of the phrase terumah of the Rabbis follows Asheri.
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