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Nedarim, 11

NEDARIM 11 - dedicated anonymously in honor of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, and in honor of those who study the Dafyomi around the world.


QUESTION: The Mishnah says that a Neder made through inference is a valid Neder. If one says "that which I eat from you is not Chulin (la'Chulin, or Lo Chulin)," the Neder is valid, because we infer from the negative ("not Chulin") the converse positive ("Korban"). The Gemara says that the Mishnah cannot be in accordance with Rebbi Meir, because Rebbi Meir maintains that we cannot make converse inferences from a person's speech -- he does not hold of "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen."

The RAN points out that the Gemara in Shevuos says that Rebbi Meir argues only in cases of Mamonos, monetary matters. Rebbi Meir agrees, however, that we say "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen" in cases of *Isur*. Why, then, in cases of Neder does he not hold of "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen," if a Neder is an Isur? The Ran answers that a Neder is an Isur that has a monetary component to it, and the Gemara in Shevuos says that Rebbi Meir argues as well in cases of Isurim that have elements of Mamonos in them. A Neder is considered an Isur that has a monetary element because through a Neder, a person creates an Isur on an object that has monetary value, and he thereby restricts his use of that object with monetary value. This is also the view of Tosfos here as well.

Apparently, the reason Rebbi Meir agrees that we say "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen" in cases of Isur is because an Isur is more severe, and therefore a person is more careful with his words (and he means what he says). Why, then, should Rebbi Meir hold that we do not say "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen" in cases of Isur that involve money? The fact that there is an issue of money involved does not detract from the fact that it is still a case of Isur, and thus there is no reason for a person to be less careful just because the Isur involves money as well!

ANSWER: It must be that there is a different reason why Rebbi Meir agrees in cases of Isur that we say "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen." The reason Rebbi Meir agrees might be because, generally, he considers a statement made in the negative ("Lav") to be questionable whether the person had in mind the converse positive ("Hen") or not. With regard to matters of Isur, in such a case of doubt we are Machmir and we assume that the person *did* mean the converse, and the Isur takes effect. If the Isur also involves money, such as in the case of Sotah where the woman stands to lose her Kesuvah money by not answering clearly that she is innocent, and in the case of Shevu'as ha'Edus where the litigant stands to lose money if the witnesses do not clearly say that they do now know any testimony for him, in such cases with regard to the money involved we say that the negative statement is not to be understood stringently (and we do not interpret it to mean the converse positive), because with regard to money we say that out of doubt, mi'Safek, a person does not pay money until we are sure that he has to pay. Hence, we interpret his negative statement leniently for him. In the case of Nedarim, too, since he is making the object Asur, and the Isur affects his use of the monetary value of the object, we interpret his statement leniently and say that he is not making the object inaccessible to himself.

RABEINU AVRAHAM MIN HA'HAR asks that it is clear from the Ran (16a, DH Shevu'ah) that only a Neder -- which is an Isur Cheftza (an Isur which takes effect on the object, and not on the person) -- is considered an Isur that has in it a monetary element. A Shevu'ah, though, would be considered a normal Isur, and Rebbi Meir would agree that we say "Michlal Lav Atah Shome'a Hen." But if the determining factor is whether there is money involved, then when a person prohibits an object with a Shevu'ah by making himself Asur to that object, he is losing access to that object just like he loses access to it with a Neder! What difference does it make if it is an Isur Gavra or an Isur Cheftza that prohibits him to the object?

The Ran must not be bothered by that question because in the case of a Shevu'ah, the object *is* accessible, but there is a "lion in front of it" -- that is, the Isur Shevu'ah that he created -- making it inaccessible to him. It is not that the monetary value of the object itself is off limits to him. Hence, when a person makes something Asur with a Shevu'ah, he is not talking about the object itself, but rather he is talking about what *he* will or will not do, and thus he does not relate to the Isur in terms of monetary value, but in terms of his own permissibility or lack thereof of doing something. When a person makes something Asur with a Neder, on the other hand, he is making the object off limits to him, and thus he thinks in terms of its monetary value.

Why, though, are we lenient in a case of a doubtful statement of a Neder? There is a principle that in a case of a doubtful Neder, we say "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" (18b) and the Neder takes effect, m'Chumra. If one's negative ("Lav") statement is viewed as a doubtful statement, then why should we be lenient in the case of a Neder and say that the Neder does not take effect? We should say "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" when there is a doubt!

The answer is that we only apply "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" when a person says a statement like, "This object is Cherem," and we do not know whether he means the type of Cherem that is Asur (Chermei Bedek ha'Bayis) or the type of Cherem that is Mutar (Chermei Kohanim). If he means Chermei Kohanim, then his statement would be senseless, because there is no point in comparing an object to Chermei Kohanim; he could have just been quiet and not said anything, since there is nothing informative about his statement (ROSH)! Hence, from the fact that he was not quiet and he made a statement, we assume that he meant the type of Cherem that is Asur, and that he meant to make a Neder. However, in the case where one says the negative statement ("this object is not Chulin") and not the positive statement ("this item is Korban"), he is making a statement that does make sense; he is saying that this object is not Mutar. It is an informative statement in its own right; the question is whether we can infer the opposite from it. Since the statement itself conveys a message, we have no reason to assume that he is trying to make a Neder, and that is why we consider it a Safek Mamon and are lenient in this case of a doubtful Neder.


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