Nedarim - Daf 21

  • Four types of nedarim which do not take effect

The opening Mishnah of the third Perek, on the bottom of Daf 20b, states: ארבעה נדרים התירו חכמים – The Chochomim permitted four types of nedarim, the first one being,  נדרי זרוזין - motivational nedarim. The Mishnah explains: What are נדרי זרוזין? If one was selling an item and said Konam [the proceeds of the sale to me - Ran] that I will not sell it for less than a sela (four dinarim),” and the buyer said: קונם שאיני מוסיף לך על השקל - “Konam the item to me if I buy it for more than a shekel (two dinarim),שניהם רוצין בשלשה דינרין - both are really agreeable to a price of three dinarim (i.e., midway between the two). The Gemara on this Daf initially explains that this is based on the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah in the name of Rebbi Tarfon (quoted on 19b) that a nezirus (or neder) which is a safek at the time of declaration is invalid. Here, too, since each neder was made conditionally, and is not clear cut, it does not take effect. Rava disagrees and says you can even explain it according to the Rabbonon who dispute Rebbi Tarfon:  מי קתני שניהן רצו שניהן רוצין קתני- Does it say, “they both agreed” (meaning, they later agreed)? It says, “they both are agreeable,” which means all along they were agreeable to the price of three dinarim, and the neder is invalid because they never intended what they said.

  • טפי מסלע בציר משקל

Ravina asked Rav Ashi: אמר לו טפי מסלע, והלה אמר בציר משקל - If the seller said in his neder an amount greater than a sela, and the buyer said a neder for an amount less than a shekel, נדרא הוי או זרוזין הוי - is it a legitimate neder, or a motivational one? According to the Ran’s first explanation, that the “amount” means a perutah (the smallest coin), the seller meant that he will not accept less than a sela and a perutah, and the buyer meant that he will not pay more than a shekel minus a perutah. The question is whether their naming such precise values indicates that they did intend their nedarim literally. Rav Ashi brought a proof from a Mishnah about someone resisting pressure to eat at his friend’s home, who said קונם ביתך שאני נכנס, טיפת צונן שאני טועם - “your house is konam for my entering,” or “a drop of your cold water [is konam] for my tasting,” is permitted in both cases, שלא נתכוון זה אלא לשום אכילה ושתיה - for he only meant actual eating and drinking, not the minimal activities he named. We see, then, that even highly specific terms are not necessarily taken literally. Ravina responded that this case is not comparable, because צדיקים אומרים מעט ועושין הרבה - tzadikim say a little and do a lot. The one making the neder feared that if he would accede even to a drop of cold water, his friend would take the opportunity to give him far more.

  • What qualifies for a heter nedarim?

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav Assi: ארבעה נדרים הללו צריכין שאילה לחכם - These four types of nedarim of the Mishnah require a heter of a sage. Rav Yehudah reported that when he told this to Shmuel, he objected: The Tanna taught “four types of nedarim the Chochomim permitted,” and you say it requires a heter of a sage?! Rav Yosef taught Rav Yehudah’s statement differently: אין חכם רשאי להתיר אלא כעין ארבעה נדרים הללו - A sage is not allowed to annul a neder, except like these four types of nedarim. Only a mistaken circumstance, such that the vower would not have made the neder had he been fully aware of it, is sufficient grounds to annul a neder. This is like the four types of nedarim, in which the vower never intended to make a neder. The Gemara concludes based on this, קסבר אין פותחין בחרטה - he holds we cannot make an opening with mere regret. The Gemara brings some Amoraim who disagree, and incidents where regret was sufficient to annul a neder.