Nedarim, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

The final two chapters of Nedarim discuss a father’s and husband’s right to annul the vows of their daughters or wives.  Whereas the release of vows, the topic of the previous chapter, is not mentioned in the Torah, chapter 30 of Numbers discusses the father/son’s right to annul vows at length.  Indeed most of what we know about vows comes from the context of this chapter.  Thus vs. 6 states, “But if her father restrains her on the day he finds out, none of her vows or self-imposed obligations shall stand.”  Vs. 13 makes a similar statement concerning the husband. 

There are several limits that the rabbis placed on this right of fathers/husbands.  First of all, as we shall learn later in the chapter, not all vows may be annulled.  Second, the father may annul his daughter’s vow only until she has reached what was considered majority age (12 ½).  Beyond that age she was obligated, as are all people, to keep all her vows. 

Our mishnah discusses the betrothed young woman, one between the ages of 12 and 12 ½.  This girl is still living in her father’s house and yet is already betrothed to another man.  She is therefore a classic example of a borderline case, which as we have seen time and time again, is typically the focus of the Mishnah.

 

Mishnah One

In the case of a betrothed young woman, her father and her betrothed husband annul her vows. 

If her father annulled [her vow] but not the husband, or if the husband annulled [it] but not the father, it is not annulled; and it goes without saying if one of them upheld [it].

 

Explanation

The simple message of the mishnah is that since she is partly in her father’s domain, for she has not yet reached majority age and she is still living in his house, and partly in her betrothed husband’s domain, both parties must annul her vows.  If either party does not annul the vow, or upholds the vow, the vow is not annulled. 

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