Nedarim - Daf 16

  • שבועה שאוכל: שתי לשונות משמע

The next Mishnah states: One who says: הא שבועה שאוכל לך – “Behold, a shevuah that I eat of yours,” he is prohibited from his friend’s food. The Gemara deduces that the phrase שאוכל לך, when used in a shevuah, is understood to mean “An oath that I will not eat of yours.” When the Gemara challenges this from a Mishnah in Shevuos, which implies that if one took a shevuah שאוכל, it is understood to mean, “that I will eat of yours,” Abaye answers: שאוכל שתי לשונות משמע - the word שאוכל can be interpreted in two ways; it can mean to eat or to not eat, depending on the context: היו מסרבין בו לאכול - if they were pressuring him to eat,ואמר אכילנא אכילנא ותו שבועה שאוכל  - and he said, “I will eat, I will eat,” and he said further, “I swear שאוכל!”,  דאכילנא משמע- then it means “that I will eat,” in accordance with what he was saying. אבל אמר לא אכילנא לא אכילנא ותו אמר שבועה שאוכל  - but if he said, “I will not eat, I will not eat,” and he said further, “I swear שאוכל!”, דלא אכילנא קאמר - then he is saying “that I will not eat.” Alternatively, Rav Ashi answers: שאוכל דשבועה שאי אוכל קאמר - the case of shevuah in our Mishnah should be revised to read שאי אוכל, which clearly means, “I will not eat”. The Gemara proceeds to explain the basis of their disagreement.

  • אין נשבעין לעבור העל המצות

The next Mishnah states: וחומר בנדרים מבשבועות – And this is an area in which nedarim are more stringent than shevuos:אמר קונם סוכה שאני עושה לולב שאני נוטל תפילין שאני מניח  - If someone said, “konam a succah that I make,” or “lulav that I take,” or “tefillin that I put on,” בנדרים אסור בשבועות מותר - in a case of nedarim, he is forbidden to those items, but in the case of shavuos, the oath is not valid and he is permitted, שאין נשבעין לעבור על המצות – because one cannot effect an oath to transgress a mitzvah. The Gemara asks, מנין שאין נשבעין לעבור על המצות - from where do we know that one cannot swear to violate a mitzvah, i.e., that such an oath is ineffective? The passuk says in the context of shevuah: "לא יחל דברו" - he shall not desecrate “his” word, which implies that דברו לא יחל אבל מיחל הוא לחפצי שמים - only for the purpose of “his” word, meaning a discretionary matter, he cannot desecrate, but he may desecrate it for the will of Heaven, i.e., oaths that contradict mitzvos.

  • The difference between nedarim and shavuos made against mitzvos

The Gemara asks: מאי שנא נדר - what is different about a neder that it is valid even when it contradicts a mitzvah, דכתיב "איש כי ידור נדר לה'...לא יחל דברו" - because it is written, “if a man makes a vow to Hashem…he shall not desecrate his word,” and the juxtaposition of לה' to “לא יחל דברו“ teaches that even a neder made against Hashem’s mitzvos is valid and cannot be desecrated. שבועה נמי הא כתיב "או השבע שבועה לה'...לא יחל דברו" - Regarding a shevuah, too, it is written: “or one who swears to Hashem…he shall not desecrate his word,” and we should darshen it the same way? After Rava objects to the wording of Abaye’s answer, Rava revises that answer to be, הא דאמר ישיבת סוכה עלי - this case of neder is where he said, “the sitting in a succah is forbidden upon me,” targeting the object, והא דאמר שבועה שלא אשב בסוכה - and this case of shevuah is where he said, “I swear that I will not sit in a succah,” which targets the person. The Ran explains that it is more reasonable to assume that the word לה' is teaching that a neder is effective even when made against mitzvos, because a neder prohibits entities, in this case a succah, which only indirectly disables him from fulfilling his mitzvah. A shevuah, on the other hand, prohibits a person in activities, which would directly contradict his obligation to fulfill his mitzvah.