For the week ending 17 July 2010 / 5 Av 5770

Shavuot 22 - 28

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • An atonement sacrifice for mere speech
  • How much must be eaten to constitute a violation of an oath to abstain from eating
  • Difference between a shavuah and a konem
  • How an oath regarding eating affects drinking
  • Is eating forbidden or inedible foods considered a violation of an oath to abstain from eating
  • Multiple atonements for one act of eating
  • Oaths regarding others and intangible things
  • Oaths relating to past and to future
  • An oath made in error or only in the mind
  • An oath to fulfill a mitzvah or to avoid doing so
  • Different atonements for different oaths
  • How long can one still have his oath nullified

When Logic is Not Enough

  • Shavuot 22b
Is drinking considered eating?

This question arises in regard to someone who took an oath to refrain from eating. Is his drinking considered a violation of his oath?

The Sage Shmuel is quoted as ruling that drinking is indeed considered eating and offers two proofs for this position. One is based on logic and the other on a passage in the Torah.

The logical proof is based on the fact that that when one person invites another to join him in eating they sometimes end up drinking together. Since oaths depend on how people usually express themselves, this is considered sufficient proof that drinking is considered eating as far as oaths are concerned.

Tosefot raises the question why the gemara finds it necessary to also offer proof from a Torah passage when the logical proof is sufficient. The gemara in other places does indeed ask why a Torah passage is necessary if there is logical proof.

Tosefot's resolution is that not every logical explanation is foolproof, so that it becomes necessary to sometimes, such as in this case, offer a proof from the Torah to substantiate the logical explanation.

What the Sages Say

"One who takes an oath to abstain from sleep for three days receives lashes for taking an oath in vain (since it is impossible for one to forgo sleep for so long – Rashi)."

  • Rabbi Yochanan - Shavuot 25a

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