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Nedarim, 8


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that a person may make a Shevu'ah to fulfill a Mitzvah for the sake of "l'Zaruzei Nafshei," to motivate himself. Is the Shevu'ah Halachically binding?

(a) The RAN implies that the Shevu'ah indeed is binding, and if the person does not perform the Mitzvah he will be punished with Malkus for transgressing his Shevu'ah.

The Ran does not distinguish between a Shevu'ah to keep a Mitzvas Aseh (a positive Mitzvah) and a Shevu'ah to keep a Lo Ta'aseh (a negative Mitzvah). Even if he makes a Shevu'ah not to transgress a Mitzvah of "Shev v'Al Ta'aseh," the Shevu'ah takes effect and he will get Malkus if he violates it by doing the Aveirah. However, if he violates the Shevu'ah, he is not obligated to bring a Korban (because the Shevu'ah does not fulfill the condition of "l'Hara o l'Heitiv" (Vayikra 5:4).

(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR in Shevu'os (27a) writes that the Shevu'ah takes effect to obligate him to keep a Mitzvas Aseh, and if he transgresses he will be Chayav Malkus *and* a Korban. However, a Shevu'ah *not* to transgress a "Shev v'Al Ta'aseh" will not take effect at all, and if he transgresses he is not punished for violating his Shevu'ah (because the Shevu'ah does not fulfill the condition of "l'Hara o l'Heitiv" (Vayikra 5:4).

(c) The RAMBAN (on the Torah as cited by the GILYON HA'SHAS, and in MILCHAMOS in Shevu'os) writes that a Shevu'ah cannot obligate a person to keep a Mitzvas Aseh or to refrain from transgressing a Lo Ta'aseh. When the Gemara says that it takes effect to motivate himself, it just means that he is not considered to have spoken the Shem of Hashem in vain when he made his "Shevu'ah." (In addition, the Rosh says, it means that we are not afraid that he will become accustomed to pronouncing Shevu'os, and thus we let him make such a Shevu'ah to fulfill a Mitzvah.)


QUESTION: The Gemara discusses whether a man may serve as a Shali'ach of his wife in order to ask a Beis Din to annul his wife's Neder. Why does the Gemara ask whether a husband can be a Shali'ach to annul his wife's Neder? It should ask whether Beis Din can annul anyone's Neder in the absence of the Noder ("she'Lo b'Fanav")!


(a) The RAMBAM (cited by the Ran) says that normally Beis Din cannot annul a Neder in the absence of the Noder. It is only the wife's Neder that they can annul when the husband is there, because of the principle of "Ishto k'Gufo."

(b) The Ran cites TOSFOS who answers that normally Beis Din may annul a Neder in the absence of the Noder. The Gemara is specifically asking about a person's wife: perhaps Beis Din cannot annul her Neder when the request is brought to them by the husband as her Shali'ach, because the husband might be misrepresenting his wife and changing what she said in order to make sure that the Dayanim will be Matir the Neder, because the Neder causes him so much trouble and aggravation. This is why the Gemara concludes that if he has to gather together people in order to be Matir her Neder, we have greater reason to be concerned that he will change what his wife said in order to have the Neder annulled since he troubled himself even more for her.

(c) The ROSH (1:7) explains that normally Beis Din may annul a Neder in the absence of the Noder. However, when a woman sends her husband to annul her Neder for her, we are afraid that she might have sent him only on condition that he not publicize her Neder, because she does not want to be embarrassed by having everyone know about it. That is why the Gemara rules that only if the husband finds three people already there is he allowed to be Matir her Neder for her. But if he does not find three people in one place and he has to go collect people in order to make a Beis Din to be Matir his wife's Neder, then he cannot be Matir it, because had his wife known that he was going to spread the word of her Neder she would not have sent him to annul it, and she would not have had Charatah that she made the Neder. (According to the Rosh, it is not clear why this Halachah should apply only to a woman who sends her husband to annul her Neder. It should apply to any person who sends a Shali'ach to Beis Din to annul his Neder! Perhaps a woman is more sensitive to having her Neder made public, and when the Gemara says that the woman sent her husband, it also refers to when the woman sent any Shali'ach.)

(a) Regarding the annulment of a Neder in the absence of the Noder, we rule that normally Beis Din cannot annul a Neder when the Noder is not present (like the Rambam says), and the question of the Gemara is only with regard to a husband acting on behalf of his wife (which is permitted because of "Ishto k'Gufo").

If the Noder is present before Beis Din but the interaction is being conducted through a "Turgeman," a translator, then Beis Din may annul the Neder.

(b) Regarding a Shali'ach of the wife, the Shali'ach may have her Neder annulled for her only if he finds three people ready to serve as a Beis Din to be Mater her Neder, since she would be embarrassed if she knew that he was gathering people together, like the Rosh says.

The SHACH adds that since the reason for not gathering people is because she might not have Charatah for her Neder under such conditions, if she specifies that she does not mind if he gathers three people together, then he may even gather people together in order to annul her Neder.

(c) If a person sends his request, and reason for Charatah, to Beis Din in writing (K'sav) and requests that they annul his Neder, the RASHBA (Teshuvos) rules that it is better than a Shali'ach and they may be Matir his Neder based on his K'sav.

However, the TAZ argues that K'sav is no better than a Shali'ach. His argument is based on the Agadah in the beginning of Maseches Ta'anis, which says that Yiftach did not have his Neder annulled because he did not want to lower himself by going before Pinchas, the head Dayan, to annul his Neder. The RIVASH says that we see from this Agadah that Pinchas was not able to be Matir the Neder in the absence of Yiftach, "she'Lo b'Fanav." The Taz says that if it was possible for Pinchas to be Matir the Neder based on Yiftach's written request, then he should have simply submitted a written request. It must be that a written request is not valid for Hataras Nedarim.

Reish Lakish states that "in the World to Come, there will be no Gehinom. Rather, Hashem will remove the sun from its sheath, and the righteous will be healed by it, while the wicked will be punished by it, as it says (Malachi 3:19), 'A sun will come which will burn like a furnace; all the wicked and all the evildoers will be like straw, and the sun will incinerate them.... But a sun of kindness will shine for those who fear Me, with healing in its rays.' Moreover, the righteous will derive pleasure from the sun, as it says (ibid.), '... and you will become sated, as fattened calves entering their pen to feed.'"

According to this account, the righteous will not need to be sheltered from the burning sun on the Day of Judgment. On the contrary, the warmth of that day's sun will be beneficial to them rather than harmful. This, however, seems to contradict Reish Lakish's own description of the events to take place in the future as it appears in the Midrash, where he says that in the World to Come, "at that time Hashem will make a Sukah (a shading shelter) for the righteous to protect them from the sun, as it says (Tehilim 27:5), 'He will conceal me in His Sukah on the day of evil; He will hide me in the seclusion of His tent'" (Yalkut Shimoni, Emor #653). Reish Lakish implies that the sun *will* be harmful to the Tzadikim, and thus they will require that Hashem shelter them from it! How can we reconcile these two statements, both of them made by Reish Lakish? Why will the righteous both benefit from the sun, yet require shelter from it?

To answer this question, we must ask first, why is the *sun* chosen to be the agent through which Hashem will administer punishment for the wicked and reward for the righteous? What is meant by the sun's "sheath," and why is it normally encased in this sheath? What does the Sukah that Hashem will construct for the righteous represent?

The Gemara (Sotah 10a) tells us that the word "Shemesh" ("protector;" Rashi) can be used as an appellation for Hashem, as it says, "Hashem is a Shemesh and a shield" (Tehilim 84:12). The common usage of the word "Shemesh," however, is the word for "sun." Why should the sun be referred to with the same word that denotes its Creator?

The verse states, "The heavens proclaim the glory of Hashem... He made a tent in [the heavens] for the sun. The sun appears like a groom coming out of his bridal canopy; it rejoices like an athlete running his course. It emerges from one edge of the sky and it goes around to the other; no one can escape its heat" (Tehilim 19:2-7). In what way do "the heavens proclaim the glory of Hashem?" The verse explains that it is through the sun's great might that Hashem's power is demonstrated. This colossal nuclear furnace, radiating more energy every second than mankind has consumed in history, is the source of all life on earth. Holding in tow the entire solar system through its gravitational pull, the sun's light, heat, and "wind" of ionized particles affect planets and other bodies billions of miles away. The sun, our only directly observable star, is the greatest public demonstration of the awesome might and glory of Hashem.

In fact, it was this very display of power that brought ancient civilizations to worship the sun. We, however, know that the sun itself can do nothing to change its predetermined, natural course. It persistently "emerges from one edge of the sky and it goes around to the other." Instead of worshipping it, we marvel at the great Power Who endows the sun with such tremendous might.

This is why the word "Shemesh," which is used to describe Hashem, was borrowed as a name for the sun, Hashem's great emissary in this world. An emissary is entitled to go by the name of his dispatcher.

In this world, however, the "sun" -- the demonstration of Hashem's glory to man that the sun represents -- is "sheathed." It is still possible to make the mistake of thinking that the sun operates on its own, or that the sun acts according to natural principles that developed spontaneously and randomly. The "brilliance" of the sun is thus covered in this world.

In the World to Come, however, Hashem will take the sun out of its "sheath." As the Gemara (Berachos 17a) says, "In the world to come there will be no eating or drinking; rather the righteous will sit and delight in the radiance of Hashem's presence." Experiencing closeness to Hashem will be in place of physical pleasure for the righteous. They will be able to perceive Hashem in a way that is not possible in this world. Hence, the sun will be "taken out of its sheath." This is the reward for those who have sought throughout their lives to better know Hashem and His ways. Hashem will reveal His glory to each of the righteous in the World to Come in accordance with the amount of effort they invested in knowing and understanding Him during their lives in this world.

The wicked, on the other hand, will endure disgrace at that time. It will be made abundantly clear just how much they distanced themselves from the source of eternal life during their lives in this world. On the Day of Judgment, their disgrace will be revealed to all, and any existence that they merit will only be granted to them through the righteous men whom they despised during their lives. The revelation of Hashem's presence in the World to Come will "burn" them, due to the their distance from Him.

The reward of the righteous is granted based on an evaluation of how close they were to their Creator during their lives. It therefore stands to reason that even among the righteous, every person's experience in the World to Come will be different. Some will be closer to Hashem than others in certain aspects, while others will be closer than them in others. The righteous will therefore both "derive pleasure from the sun (the revelation of the Divine Presence)" for their accomplishments, and "be burned by the sun" for their failings. Since they are righteous, however, and they at least worked towards "knowing Hashem," He will make them a Sukah to protect them from being scorched for their failings. Thus, Reish Lakish's two statements actually complement each other. The righteous will both be rewarded by the sun, and yet need protection from it.

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