Nedarim, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Ten

 

Introduction

At the end of the previous mishnah we learned that a girl who leaves her husband’s domain even for one moment does not return to have her vows annulled by this same husband.  Our mishnah teaches that the same is true for a girl who leaves her father’s domain either by reaching majority age, by being married or by her father dying.  The mishnah lists nine types of such women.  The first three left their father’s domain by being married, the next three by their father dying and the final three by reaching majority age.  Hence I have broken this mishnah down in three subsets of three.

 

Mishnah Ten

There are nine young girls whose vows stand:  

[1a] a girl who reached majority age who is [like] an orphan;  

[1b] a young girl [who vowed] and [then] reached majority age who is [like] an orphan;

[1c] a young girl who has not yet reached majority age, who is [like] an orphan; 

[2a] a girl who reached majority age and whose father died; 

[2b] a young girl [who vowed] and [then] reached majority age and whose father died; 

[2c] a young girl who has not yet reached majority age and whose father died;

[3a] a young girl whose father died, and after her father died she became of majority age; 

[3b] a girl who has reached majority age whose father is alive;

[3c] a young girl who has reached majority age and whose father is alive. 

Rabbi Judah says: also one who married off his daughter while a minor, and she was widowed or divorced and returned to him [her father] and is still a young girl.

 

Explanation

Usually “young girl” refers to a girl who has not yet reached majority age (12 ½).  However, here the term is used more loosely and includes even those girls who are already past 12 ½. 

Section one:  The first section lists girls who were married off by their fathers when they were young (before 12 ½) and then were widowed or divorced.  Since they were married, their fathers no longer have the ability to annul the vows.  Halakhically they are considered “orphans during their father’s lifetime.”  There are three types of girls in this category:  1)  a girl who vowed after she had reached majority age; 2)  a girl who vowed before reaching majority age and has now reached majority age; 3)  a girl who is still considered a “young girl” (12-12 ½).  Since all three of these girls have no husband and no father, their vows stand.

Section two:  All three of these girls vowed after their fathers died and have never been married off.  Since they have no husbands or fathers, their vows stand.  The age categories are the same as in the previous section.

Section three:  This section lists three girls whose fathers have no authority over them and therefore there is no one to annul their vows.  In the first case the father is dead.  In the second case she vowed after she had already reached majority age  At this point the father may no longer annul her vows.  In the third case she vowed before reaching 12 ½ but then reached majority age. 

According to one interpretation of the last section of this mishnah, Rabbi Judah adds a tenth girl to the list, the girl who was married off as a minor and then widowed or divorced and is still a young girl who has not reached 12 ½.  Since she has been married, her father may no longer annul her vows, even though she is still a young girl. 

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