Monday, December 24, 2007

A Vow to Eat & Concern for Death

A Vow to Eat

The Gemora (Nedarim 3b) states: It is understandable how one can violate the prohibition of Not to desecrate his word; if one would invoke a vow that this bread he will eat, and he does not eat it, he has desecrated his word.

How can this be a valid vow; did we not learn previously (2b) that a vow is when one prohibits the object upon himself; a vow to perform an action should have no validity?

Reb Akiva Eiger adds: The Ran cited the opinion of the Ramban who maintains that if one pronounces a vow using the language of an oath (I make a vow not to eat this bread) or he takes an oath using the language of a vow (This bread is forbidden to me by an oath), even though it is not regarded as a basic type of vow, it does take effect on account of being “a handle of a vow.” It is a partial declaration and he will be prohibited from eating the bread. However, that is only if his intention is to prohibit the object upon himself, but it cannot be regarded as a partial declaration of a vow if he is saying that he vows to eat this bread?

He concludes: May Hashem enlighten my eyes.

The Chasam Sofer explains the case as follows: He said, “This bread should be forbidden to me if I do not eat this other bread.” He went ahead and ate the first loaf of bread. The halacha would be that he is obligated to eat the second bread, for if he does not eat it by the conclusion of the day, he would have retroactively desecrated his word by eating from the first one.

Concern for Death

In Shulchan Aruch (O”C 568:3) it is ruled that if one vows to fast a certain amount of fasts, he is permitted to wait until the winter when the days will be shorter.

The Magen Avraham asks: Shouldn’t the halacha be that he is required to fast immediately, for perhaps he might die? He proves that we are concerned for death in respect to a vow from our Gemora.