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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 78a

'This is the thing', [implying] only a Sage can absolve, but a husband cannot absolve. Another [Baraitha] taught: 'This is the thing', [teaches,] [only] a husband may annul, but a Sage cannot annul. For I might think, If a husband, who cannot absolve, can annul; surely a Sage, who may absolve, can also annul! Therefore it is stated, 'This is the thing', [implying,] a husband can annul, but a Sage cannot annul. [Further:] It is here stated, This is the thing; whilst elsewhere, in connection with [sacrifices] slaughtered without [the Temple Court], it is also written, This is the thing [which the Lord hath commanded]:1  just as in the latter case, Aaron, his sons, and all Israel [are included in the law],2  so does the chapter on vows relate to Aaron, his sons, and all Israel; and just as here, the heads of the tribes [are particularly addressed],3  so there too [the reference is] to the heads of the tribes. In respect of what law [is this deduced] in the chapter of vows? — Said R. Aha b. Jacob: To teach that three laymen are qualified [to grant absolution]. But is not 'the heads of the tribes' stated?4  — R. Hisda, — others state R. Johanan — answered: [That intimates that] a single ordained scholar [can absolve].5  For what purpose are the heads of the tribes related to [sacrifices] slaughtered without? — R. Shesheth said: To teach that the law of revocation applies to hekdesh.6  But according to Beth Shammai, who maintained that hekdesh cannot be revoked, for what purpose are the heads of the tribes related to [sacrifices] slaughtered without? — Beth Shammai do not admit [the validity of] this gezerah shawah. Now, for what purpose is 'this is the thing' written in the chapter on vows? — To teach that only a Sage may absolve, but a husband cannot absolve; and that only a husband can annul, but a Sage cannot annul. Why is 'this is the thing' related to [sacrifices] slaughtered without? — To teach that one incurs guilt only for slaughtering [without the prescribed place], but not for wringing [a bird's neck outside].7

Then on the view of Beth Shammai, whence do we know that three laymen are valid?8  — They deduce it from [the teaching reported by] R. Assi b. Nathan. For it is written, And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the set feasts of the Lord.9  Whereon it was taught. R. Jose the Galilean said: The festivals were stated, but not the Sabbath of the Creation10  with them: Ben 'Azzai said: The festivals were stated, but not the chapter on vows with them. Now, this Baraitha was unintelligible to R. Assi b. Nathan, so he went to Nehardea, before R. Shesheth. Not finding him there, he followed him to Mahuza,11  and said to him: 'The festivals were stated, but not the Sabbath of the Creation with them': but the Sabbath is written together with them!12  Furthermore, the festivals were stated, but not the chapter on vows with them, but that is written alongside thereof!13  — Said he to him, It means this:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lev. XVII. 2.
  2. The verse commences, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.
  3. Num. XXX, 2: And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel.
  4. This, in the case of vows, implies the ordained scholars.
  5. For since the gezerah shawah (v. Glos.) based on 'this is the thing' relates all Israel to vows, whilst 'the heads of the tribes' specifies scholars, the discrepancy can be reconciled only by assuming that either one ordained scholar or three laymen may absolve. — One layman being insufficient, three (not two) are required, as in the case of a Beth din.
  6. V. Glos. I.e., if one consecrates an animal, which is really a form of vow, and then slaughters it without the Temple court, he can be absolved of his vow, thus revoking his consecration, whereby he is found to have slaughtered an unconsecrated animal.
  7. The passage reads: This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded … what man that slaughtered an ox … and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, etc.; yishhat ('slaughtered'), implies cutting the throat (cf. shehitah). A bird sacrifice was killed by its neck being wrung, Lev. I, 15.
  8. Since they reject the gezerah shawah by which it is deduced in the Baraitha.
  9. Lev. XXIII, 44.
  10. Lit., 'the Sabbath of the beginning'. I.e., the Sabbath, so called because God rested on the seventh day.
  11. A large Jewish town on the Tigris, where Raba had his academy.
  12. At the beginning of Lev. XXIII, v. 3 and also in v. 38.
  13. Num. XXVIII-XXIX deal with the festivals, and XXX treats of vows.
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Nedarim 78b

[only] the festivals of the Lord need sanctification by Beth din,1  but not the Sabbath of the Creation;2  (further] the festivals of the Lord require an ordained scholar,3  but absolution of vows requires no ordained scholar, for even a Beth din of laymen [may grant it]. But in the chapter on vows 'the heads of the tribes' is stated! — R. Hisda, others state, R. Johanan, said: That refers to a single ordained scholar.

R. Hanina said: He who keeps silence [when his wife vows] in order to provoke her4  can annul even after ten days. Raba objected: When was it said that if the husband dies his authority is transferred to the father? If the husband did not hear [the vow], or heard it and was silent, or heard and annulled it and died on the same day. But if he heard and confirmed it, or heard it, was silent, and died on the following day, he [the father] cannot annul.5  Now, surely it means that he kept his silence in order to vex her?6  — No. It means that he was silent in order to confirm it. If so, it is tantamount to 'or if he heard and confirmed it?'7  — But it means that he kept silent without specifying [his intentions].

R. Hisda objected: Confirmation is more stringent than annulment, and annulment is more stringent than confirmation. [Thus:] Confirmation is more stringent,

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Beth din must declare which day is new moon, and thereby sanctify it, and thence the festival was calculated.
  2. The seventh day of the week is automatically sacred.
  3. To declare the sanctification of the New Moon, which cannot be done by a layman.
  4. Intending to annul the vow eventually, but keeping silence in the meantime to vex his wife, who may wish to be freed.
  5. V. supra 68a.
  6. And yet if he died the following day, his silence is regarded as confirmation.
  7. Why teach it in two clauses?
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