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Kesuvos, 61

KESUVOS 61 - dedicated by Uri Wolfson and Naftali Wilk in honor of Rav Mordechai Rabin of Har Nof, a true beacon of Torah and Chesed.


QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses a man who makes a Neder prohibiting himself from having relations with his wife. RASHI explains that if he makes a Neder saying, "I am not allowed to have pleasure from you," then he is able to prohibit himself from his wife. But if he attempts to prohibit his wife by saying, "You may not have pleasure from me," she will be permitted to him, because he is obligated by the Torah to provide her with that benefit because of the Mitzvah of Onah, and therefore it is not within his power to remove that obligation with a Neder.

Why is that? The requirement of Onah that a man has to his wife is no more than a "Shibud," an obligation that he accepted upon himself. We learned earlier (59b) that "Konamos (i.e. Nedarim) are like Hekdesh and are able to remove a Shibud." The Gemara there says that although a Neder can normally override a Shibud, the Rabanan strengthened the Shibud that a woman has towards her husband such that she cannot prohibit herself with a Neder. Here, though, the Mishnah is not discussing the Shibud that she has to him, but rather his Shibud towards her (which the Gemara does not say the Rabanan strengthened against the power of a Neder). Why, then, should his Neder not be able to uproot that Shibud?


(a) The RASHBA here and the RAN in Nedarim (81b) explain that the Rabanan strengthened the Shibud of both parties in the marriage. Just like a Neder cannot uproot the Shibud that a woman has to her husband, a Neder cannot uproot the Shibud that a man has to his wife. (See also Gemara, Kesuvos 70a)

(b) TOSFOS (59b, DH Konamos) goes further and explains that the Rabanan strengthened *every* Shibud, and not just the mutual Shibudim between a husband and wife. Therefore, even though, mid'Oraisa, his Neder is effective to prohibit the woman from relations, and to prohibit a person's money to his debtors, the Rabanan strengthened the Shibudim where one person owes something to another person and they instituted that no Neder is able to uproot the Shibud.

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