Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shavyah A'nafshei - Kiddushin 65

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The Mishna stated: If a man said to a woman, “I betrothed you,” and she said, “You did not betroth me,” he is forbidden to marry her relatives, but she is permitted to marry his relatives.

Rashi explains the man is forbidden to marry her relatives because of the principle of “shavya anafshei chaticha d’issura” i.e. she has made for herself a forbidden piece; she is compelled to abide by her declaration.

There are several explanations to this: The Ketzos Hachoshen explains that this is based upon “believability.” A person is believed with regards to himself, when it is disadvantageous to him. He cites a Rashi on our Daf that this is comparable to the halachah of “the admission of the litigant is like the testimony of a hundred witnesses.”

The Terumas Hakeri says that this is not because he is believed, but rather, it is based upon the following logic: Since he knows that something is forbidden to him, it is incumbent upon him to distance himself from this. Accordingly, Beis Din is obligated to ensure that he does not violate any prohibition that according to his words he knows to be forbidden, for Beis Din acts with him in the same manner that he acts with himself.

The Shaar Hamelech quotes the Mahari Assad that the reason why one can render the object forbidden with the principle of “shavya a’nafshei” is not because he is believed in respect to himself; rather, it is because it is regarded as an oath. The witness is taking a vow forbidding himself from this particular object.

The Maharit writes that this cannot be the reason, for if so, he should be able to annul this prohibition in the same manner that one can have his oath annulled!

The Noda Beyehudah writes that “shavya a’nafshei” cannot function like an oath because it is obvious that if one says on a Monday that “today is Shabbos,” it will not be forbidden for him to perform any labor. This is because there is no believability in this case. But, if it would be like an oath, it should be forbidden for him like any other oath!

The Chasam Sofer writes that there would be the following difference in halachah based upon the different reasons: If someone would tell Beis Din something that he knows to be false. If “shavya a’nafshei” is because he is believed in respect to himself, here, where he knows it to be false, he would be able to “transgress” his words in private. However, if it is based upon an oath, it will still be forbidden to him.