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Nedarim, 66


QUESTION: The Mishnah relates an incident involving a person who made a Neder not to marry a certain woman (because she was uncomely). Rebbi Yishmael took her in and beautified her, and then he permitted the man to marry her, since the Neder was no longer valid once she became pretty. The Chachamim in the Mishnah argue and say that if a person makes a Neder not to marry a certain ugly woman and she is made to look beautiful, he is not allowed to marry her, as the Gemara explains.

What is the logic of Rebbi Yishmael who permits her? Since she was only beautified after the Neder, it should be a case of Nolad, and Nolad cannot be used to annul a Neder (64a)!


(a) The RAN writes that Rebbi Yishmael holds like Rebbi Eliezer (64a) who says that Nolad *may* be used as grounds for the annulment of a Neder. The Chachamim argue, following their own view that Nolad cannot be used as a Pesach for the annulment of a Neder.

(b) The ROSH explains that even Rebbi Yishmael admits that Nolad cannot be used to annul a Neder. However, Rebbi Yishmael's logic is that Jewish women are all inherently beautiful, and any ugliness is due only to their state of poverty, like the Mishnah says. When the man made a Neder not to marry the woman because she was ugly, he meant because she was inherently ugly. Since Rebbi Yishmael maintained that she was not inherently ugly, he therefore permitted him to marry her because it was a Neder Ta'us, a Neder made in error. This is also the opinion of the RITVA.

It appears that the Rosh and the Ran are arguing whether Rebbi Yishmael made the woman more beautiful (which would be Nolad), or he merely removed her ugliness in order for her inherent beauty to show itself (which would not be Nolad).

The Gemara explains that the way Rebbi Yishmael beautified her was by replacing her ugly-looking substitute tooth with a golden tooth. The argument between the Rosh and Ran might depend on how to understand why this beautified her, as follows.

The MAHARSHA asks a basic question. The Gemara in Shabbos (65a) explains that a woman is not permitted to go outside on Shabbos with a gold tooth, but she is permitted to go out with a silver tooth. RASHI there (DH Lo Shanu) offers two explanations for this. One explanation is that the woman who goes out with a gold tooth might remove it and carry it in order to show it to other women, because it is so precious, and she will walk with it for four Amos in Reshus ha'Rabim. In contrast, a woman will not remove and carry a silver tooth, because it is nothing special to display.

Rashi then quotes his mentors who explain that we are afraid that she will take out the gold tooth from her mouth and carry it, because it makes her look ugly since it does not match her other teeth, while a silver tooth blends in more with her other teeth. According to this explanation, why did Rebbi Yishmael make this woman a gold tooth in order to make her pretty? On the contrary, a gold tooth makes her look odd! He should have spent less money and made her a silver tooth, which would have looked nicer!

RAV YAKOV EMDEN suggests two answers. First, he suggests that the Gemara does not really mean that he made her a gold tooth, but that he made her a tooth that was worth as much as gold. It was a silver tooth but the value of the denistry work cost so much money that the tooth might as well have been made out of gold. Alternatively, the woman's other teeth were also yellow (or Rebbi Yishmael plated the other teeth with gold), and thus the gold tooth blended with them perfectly.

This might be the basis for the Machlokes Rishonim in our Sugya. The Ran might have learned like Rashi's own explanation in Shabbos, that a gold tooth, a gem in one's mouth, is certainly much prettier than a silver tooth, and certainly more than a normal false tooth. Since Rebbi Yishmael made her a gold tooth to make her pretty, it was Nolad -- she became beautiful only after the Neder as a result of the new tooth. However, the Rosh might have learned like the mentors of Rashi in Shabbos, that the purpose of the gold tooth was simply to cover up the open gap left by the missing tooth (or the black spot made by the false tooth). Accordingly, it was not Nolad, because she really was already beautiful, but the black tooth was making her look ugly, and by replacing it with a gold tooth he removed the ugliness.


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