Talmud Tips

For the week ending 30 May 2015 / 12 Sivan 5775

Nedarim 9 - 15

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Against which nefesh did this person sin? He ‘suffered’ by forbidding himself to drink wine.”

In this manner Rabbi Elazar Hakapar explains why the Torah calls a nazir a “sinner” (Bamidbar 6:11). He even takes this a step further by saying, “and if this person is called a sinner for not drinking wine, one who abstains from everything (i.e. fasts unnecessarily), all the more so!”

In Judaism, the physical is not evil and is not an illusion. It is real, but it is not all of our reality. The body created by G-d is morally neutral, meant to be used as a vehicle for spiritual and moral accomplishments. Far from ignoring the physical, we are commanded to nourish and care for our physical bodies in every way. Even nonessential needs are to be gratified as long as this is done appropriately. In order to live a healthy life, human beings must experience pleasure in addition to having their basic needs satisfied. Judaism considers it a sin to deny oneself permissible physical pleasures.

  • Nedarim 10a

“If a person who makes a neder by comparing a certain object to terumah, the object is still permitted to him (the neder is not effective).”

This is one of numerous scenarios taught in the mishna on our daf in which his words do not create a prohibition of the object to him by means of his “neder”. The reason is because a neder is only effective if the person compares the object he wishes to forbid to himself to something which is not inherently forbidden, as opposed to comparing it to something that can become forbidden by making a neder.

The Rishonim ask why terumah is not something which is made forbidden by the person who separates it and therefore would qualify to be a suitable object to make a comparison to in his neder. One approach is that the person really separates the terumah but does not cause it to become forbidden. It is the Torah that forbids it to one who is not a kohen. (Rabbeinu Nissim)

Another approach is that terumah is not made forbidden by the separation and declaration of the person. Even before the person took terumah it was forbidden because it was tevel. On the contrary, when he took terumah he made it permitted, at least to kohanim. (Tosefot and Rabbeinu Asher on 12a)

  • Nedarim 13a

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