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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim
We learnt elsewhere: Vows may be annulled1 on the Sabbath, and absolution from vows2 may be sought where it is necessary for the Sabbath.3 The scholars propounded: May vows be annulled on the Sabbath only if it is needed for the Sabbath, or perhaps, even if it is unnecessary?4 Come and hear: For R. Zuti, of the school of R. Papi, learnt: Vows may be annulled [on the Sabbath] only if necessary for the Sabbath. Said R. Ashi: But we did not learn thus; IF SHE VOWED JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL, HE CAN ANNUL ONLY UNTIL NIGHTFALL. But if you rule [that he can annul] only when it is necessary for the Sabbath, but not otherwise, why say, UNTIL NIGHTFALL; he cannot annul even by day,5 since it is unnecessary for the Sabbath?6 — It is a controversy of Tannaim: [The period allowed for] the annulment of vows is the whole day. R. Jose son of R. Judah and R. Eliezer son of R. Simeon maintained: Twenty-four hours. Now, on the view that [they can be annulled only] the whole of that day, but not thereafter, [it follows that] he can annul them even if unnecessary for the Sabbath;7 but on the view [that he has] twenty-four hours, [he can annul] only if it is necessary for the Sabbath, but not otherwise.
'And absolution from vows may be sought where it is necessary for the Sabbath'. The scholars propounded: Is that only if one had no time [to seek absolution before the Sabbath], or perhaps even if he had time? — Come and hear: For the Rabbis gave a hearing to the son of R. Zutra son of R. Ze'ira [to grant him absolution] even for vows for which there was time before the Sabbath.8
Now, R. Joseph thought to rule that absolution may be granted9 on the Sabbath only by a single ordained scholar, but not by three laymen, because it would look like a lawsuit.10 Said Abaye to him: Since we hold that [those who grant it] may stand, be relatives, and [absolve] even at night, it does not look like a lawsuit.11
R. Abba said in the name of R. Huna in the name of Rab: The halachah is that vows may be annulled on the Sabbath. But this is [explicitly taught in] our Mishnah: IF SHE VOWED ON THE NIGHT OF THE SABBATH [ETC.]?12 — But say thus: The halachah is that absolution13 may be sought at night. R. Abba said to R. Huna, Did Rab really say thus? Said he, He was silent.14 Do you say, 'He was silent', or, 'he was drinking'? asked he.15 — R. Ika b. Abin said: Rab gave a hearing to Rabbah [to grant him absolution]
Nedarim 77bin a chamber of the College, whilst standing, alone, and at night.1
Raba said in R. Nahman's name: The halachah is that absolution from vows may be granted standing, alone, and at night, on the Sabbath, by relatives, and even if there was time before the Sabbath [to seek absolution]. 'Standing'? But it was taught: R. Gamaliel descended from the ass, wrapped himself [in his robe], sat down, and absolved him?2 — R. Gamaliel held that [the Rabbi] must give an 'opening' for regret, so that the vow may be revoked ab initio; this requires deep thought; therefore he sat down.3 But in R. Nahman's opinion no opening for regret Is necessary;4 therefore he [the Rabbi] can stand.5
Raba said to R. Nahman: Behold, Master, a scholar, who came from the west [i.e., Palestine], and related that the Rabbis gave a hearing to the son of R. Huna b. Abin and absolved him of his vow, and then said to him, 'Go, and pray for mercy, for you have sinned. For R. Dimi, the brother of R. Safra, learnt: He who vows, even though he fulfils it, is designated a sinner.' R. Zebid said: What verse [teaches this]? — But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee;6 hence, if thou hast not forborne, there is sin.
It was taught: If a man says to his wife, '[In respect to] all vows which you may make, I object to your vowing,' or, 'they are no vows,' the declaration is valueless.7 [If he says,] 'You have done well,' or, 'there is none like you,'8 or, 'had you not vowed, I myself would have imposed a vow upon you.'9 — these declarations are effective.10
A man should not say to his wife on the Sabbath, 'It is annulled for you,' or, 'made void for you,' as he would say on week-days, but, 'Take and eat it,' 'Take and drink it,'11 and the vow becomes automatically void.12 R. Johanan observed: Yet he must annul it in his heart.13 It was taught: Beth Shammai say: On the Sabbath he must annul it in his heart; on week-days he must express [his annulment] with his lips. But Beth Hillel say: In both cases he may annul it in his heart, and need not express it with his lips.14
R. Johanan said: If a Sage employs a husband's phraseology, or a husband that of a Sage, their pronouncements are invalid.15 For it was taught: This is the thing [which the Lord hath commanded]:16 [this teaches], only a Sage may absolve, but a husband cannot absolve.17 For I might think, If a Sage, who cannot annul, can absolve, surely a husband, who may annul, can also absolve! Therefore it is stated,
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