2,792. "Those Were Your Exact Words"

Hilchos Nedarim 8:8

When a person makes a vow or an oath, we interpret what motivated it and infer his intention from that; it is his intention that matters rather than his exact words. For example, let’s say that someone was carrying a load of wool or linen, making him sweat and stink. If he takes an oath or a vow never to have wool or linen on him again, he may still wear garments of wool or linen and use blankets of these materials; he is only prohibited to carry them on his back in the manner of a load. However, if he was wearing wool garments that bothered him and he made an oath or a vow never to have wool on him again, then he may not wear wool but he may carry it as a load and cover himself with blankets of wool since he only meant to prohibit garments of wool. The same applies in all such cases.

Hilchos Nedarim 8:9

Similar to the previous halacha, let’s say that someone is being pressured to marry a member of his extended family. He refuses and they persist, so he takes a vow or an oath that the intended bride can never benefit from him. Or let’s say that someone divorced his wife and took an oath that she could never benefit from him. These women may derive benefit from him because his intention is only to keep from marrying them.