Monday, January 14, 2008

Honoring his Friend

(Nedarim 24a) If one says to his fellow, “Konam that I will not benefit from your if you do not accept from me for your son a kor of wheat and two barrels of wine” (and the fellow refuses the gift), he may annul his vow without petitioning a sage, by his fellow saying, “Did you vow for any other purpose but to honor me (that I should accept the gift)? This (the refusal of the gift) is my honor (for it is written in Mishlei: One who hates gifts shall live).

The Rosh asks: Doesn’t every neder require annulment only through a sage? How can the vower annul this neder by himself?

He answers that since this opening is so clear and compelling, the vower is permitted to annul it himself.

The Ran according to the explanation of the Ayeles Hashachar learns differently. He explains that the purpose of the vow was to honor the other fellow. Since he is being honored by refusing the gift, that is regarded as a fulfillment of the condition of the neder. The neder never has a chance to take effect for the fellow was indeed honored.

The Ra”n Elucidated
Rejecting the proof - The Gemora attempts to bring a proof from the following braisa: Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov went even further and said: If one says to his fellow, “Konam that I do not benefit from you if you will not be my guest and partake of hot bread and a hot drink with me.” The fellow resisted the invitation. This is also considered a motivational neder.

The reason it says, “Even further” is because here, even though it is applicable to say, “I am not a dog,” for behold, he is forbidding himself the benefit of the invited one if he doesn’t want to accept this benefit from him, and for this reason it can be said that he really meant the neder, nonetheless, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov said that they are motivational nedarim.

According to this explanation, we now see that our rejections of all the proofs above, that even Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov agrees whenever it is possible to say, “I am not a dog” were only arguments, but were not really true.

[We use the sefer “The Commentary of Rabbenu Nissim on Nedarim” from Rabbi Nathan Bushwick extensively to assist us in preparing the “Elucidation of the Ra”n.” The sefer, written in English is available for sale by writing to: Rabbi Nathan Bushwick 901 Madison Ave. Scranton, Pa 18510-1019. The cost is $25.00.]