Monday, March 03, 2008

Deaf-mute Revoking

Rami bar Cham inquires (Nedarim 73a): Can a deaf man revoke the nedarim of his wife?

The Ra”n explains that the Gemora is referring to a deaf person who can talk, but cannot hear.

The Rosh adds: We cannot be referring to a deaf-mute, for he can only make a Rabbinical kiddushin through hinting or signing. He will not be able to revoke her nedarim, which are Biblically valid! Furthermore, he would have the halacha of a shoteh, and the halachos of revoking will not be applicable for him.

Reb Yaakov Emden explains the Rosh to mean as follows: The kiddushin of a deaf-mute is only a Rabbinical one. He performs a kiddushin by demonstrating that he wishes to marry her. It is, therefore, impossible for him to revoke his wife’s nedarim, for that is a Biblical halacha, which would only be applicable to a marriage on a Biblical level.

The Acharonim challenge this explanation from a Gemora in Niddah (46b), which states that one who married a minor, who has no father, and the kiddushin is only a Rabbinical one, may nevertheless revoke her nedarim. This is because every woman who makes a neder intends that it will be subject to her husband’s will. This applies by a Rabbinical marriage as well, since she is his wife.

Reb Shmuel Rozovsky (and others) explain the Rosh to mean that since he cannot talk, he is incapable of revoking his wife’s vows. For one needs to speak in order ot revoke a vow; hinting and signing will not be sufficient.

The Nidrei Zerizin is perplexed by this answer: Where does it say that one needs a complete expression in order to revoke a vow? Furthermore, he can revoke it through writing. For there are many opinions that maintain that writing is considered like speaking in regards to making an oath; certainly it should suffice for revoking a vow!