GEMARA. Whose view is taught in our Mishnah? — R. Meir's; for if R. Judah's, he recognises no distinction between a korban and Oh, korban.1 Then consider the latter clause [IF HE SAYS,]. 'WHAT I MIGHT NOT EAT OF YOURS BE NOT A KORBAN UNTO ME,' HE IS PERMITTED. But we learnt: [If one says,] 'That which I might not eat of yours be not for a korban unto me': R. Meir forbids [him]. And R. Abba observed thereon: It is as though he said, 'let it [i.e., your food] be for a korban, therefore I may not eat of yours.2 — There is no difficulty: in the latter case he said, 'le-korban' [for a korban]; but here [in our Mishnah] he said, 'la'-korban,'3 which means: let it not be a korban.
MISHNAH. [IF HE SAYS, 'I TAKE] AN OATH [THAT] I WILL NOT EAT OF YOURS,' [OR] 'OH OATH THAT4 I EAT OF YOURS,' [OR 'I TAKE] NO OATH [THAT] I WILL NOT EAT OF YOURS,'5 HE IS FORBIDDEN.
GEMARA. This proves that 'Oh oath that I eat of yours implies that I will not eat. Now this contradicts the following: Oaths are of two categories, which are extended to four, viz., '[I swear] that I will eat,' 'that I will not eat,' 'that I have eaten, 'that I have not eaten'.6 Now, since he enumerates, 'that I will eat,' 'that I will not eat,' 'that I have eaten.' 'that I have not eaten, it follows that [the phrase,] 'that I eat of yours' implies, 'I will eat'? — Abaye answered: 'That I eat' has two meanings. If one was being urged to eat, and he replied: 'I will eat, I will eat, moreover. [I take] an oath that I eat,' it implies, 'I will eat.' But if he said, 'I will not eat, I will not eat,' and then added: '[I take] an oath that I eat,' it implies, 'I will not eat'.7 R. Ashi answered: 'That I eat,' in connection with an oath,8 really means that he [actually] said, 'I will not eat'.9 If so, it is obvious: why state it? — I might think it is a mispronunciation10 which caused him to stumble;11 we are therefore taught [otherwise].
Abaye does not give R. Ashi's reason, because it is not stated, 'That I will not eat.' R. Ashi rejects Abaye's interpretation: he holds, 'that I will not eat' may also bear two meanings. [Thus: —] if one was being urged to eat, and he said, 'I will not eat, I will not eat, and then added, 'I [swear by] an oath', whether [he concluded] 'that I eat,' or, 'that I do not eat,' it implies, 'I will eat'. While the language, 'An oath that I will not eat,' may also be explained as meaning, 'I swear [indeed] that I will not eat.'12 But the Tanna13 states a general rule: she-'okel [always] means that I will eat, and she-lo 'okel, that I will not eat.14
MISHNAH. IN THESE INSTANCES OATHS ARE MORE RIGOROUS THAN VOWS.15 YET THERE IS [ALSO] GREATER STRINGENCY IN VOWS THAN IN OATHS. E.G., IF ONE SAYS, 'KONAM BE THE SUKKAH THAT I MAKE,' OR, 'THE LULAB THAT I TAKE, OR, THE TEFILLIN16 THAT I PUT ON:' [WHEN EXPRESSED] AS VOWS THEY ARE BINDING, BUT AS OATHS THEY ARE NOT, BECAUSE ONE CANNOT SWEAR TO TRANSGRESS THE PRECEPTS.
Original footnotes renumbered.
- This is argued from the fact the Mishnah does not include the form 'korban be what I might eat of yours', as permissible, as it does in the case of 'Oh, korban', which could be included according to R. Judah's opinion that the particle 'as' is necessary to render the oath binding, v. supra.
- Then why not assume the same here?
- So Ran. cur. edd. lo le-korban.
- V. Gemara.
- This even according to R. Meir, for the Talmud states (Shebu'oth 36a) that R. Meir holds that the positive may be inferred from the negative in oaths.
- The two categories are affirmative and negative oaths referring to the future, which are extended to include similar oaths in the past.
- The Heb. then means: 'I swear in this matter of eating' — viz., that I will not eat. [The whole turns on the meaning attached to [H]. The particle [H] may denote 'that' or 'if' (or 'that which'). In the first instance, the circumstance favours the former interpretation: 'An oath that I eat', i.e., 'I swear that I eat'. In the latter, he probably meant: 'An oath if (or that which) I eat, i.e., 'I swear not to eat', (or, 'By oath be forbidden that which I eat); cf. Shebu. 19b.]
- I.e., the Mishnah, when employing this phrase in connection with oaths.
- I.e., the Mishnah merely indicates that his oath bore reference to eating, but actually it was a negative one.
- Lit., 'a twisting of the tongue'.
- Saying she-i-'okel instead of she-'okel, the difference in Hebrew being very slight. — This answer, as well as the discussion supra et passim on le-korban and lo korban, implies that the vows and oaths, as hypothetically posited in the Mishnah, were actually taken in Hebrew, not in another language. Thus Hebrew was generally spoken when the Mishnah was composed, and the Hebrew employed in the Mishnah would appear a natural, not an artificial language. V. M.H. Segal, Mishnaic Hebrew Grammar, Introduction.
- The text is not quite clear, but the general meaning appears to be this: When he says, 'lo akilna, lo akilna (I will not eat),' he may mean it positively, 'I will certainly not eat'; when he further adds, 'I swear that I will eat (she-'okel)' or 'that I will not eat' he is strengthening his first statement, for 'I swear that I will eat (she-'ohel)' may mean, 'I swear in respect of this matter of eating'. On the other hand, his first words may mean, 'I will not eat'? — of course I will! Hence the subsequent oath confirms this, for 'I swear that I will not eat (she-lo 'okel)' may mean, 'An oath may be imposed upon what I will no eat, but not upon what I will eat.' Hence, if Abaye's explanation is correct, that the Tanna teaches that she-'okel may imply a negative, he should also teach that she-lo 'okel may imply an affirmative. [MS.M. preserves a better reading: … if one was being urged to eat … whether (he concluded) 'that I eat' or 'that I do not eat' he means 'I shall not eat', while the language 'An oath that I will not eat' may be explained 'An oath that I do eat'. The meaning is thus clearer: When he first says 'I will not eat', his subsequent statement, whatever it is, will, on Abaye's explanation, be taken as confirming the first: If it is 'An oath that I eat' the particle [H] (v. supra p. 43. n. 4) denotes 'if' or ('that which') and he means 'I swear I eat'; if it is 'An oath that I do not eat' the particle is simply taken in the sense of 'that'. And thus similarly on Abaye's view, the phrase 'that I do not eat' could also be explained in a positive sense: 'I swear … if I do not eat', viz., where it was preceded by the statement 'I will eat'. This however, is impossible, in view of the Mishnah in Shebu'oth, which draws a distinction between 'that I will eat' and 'that I will not eat' and not between the circumstances that produced the oath.]
- Of the Mishnah in Shebu'oth.
- Disregarding the special cases where the general tenor of a person's speech or the inflection of his voice reverses the literal meaning of his oath.
- Since the Mishnah (15b) states that a vow in these terms is not binding.
- V. Glos. for these words.
GEMARA. MORE RIGOROUS? That implies that they are [valid] vows;1 but it is taught, He is permitted?2 — This is taught in reference to the second clause of the other section: [viz.,] [If one says,] ['I swear] on oath not to sleep,' or, 'talk,' or 'walk,' he is forbidden [to do so]: IN THESE INSTANCES OATHS ARE MORE RIGOROUS THAN vows.3
YET THERE IS GREATER STRINGENCY IN VOWS THAN IN OATHS etc. R. Kahana recited, R. Giddal said in Rab's name, and R. Tabyomi recited, R. Giddal said in Samuel's name: Whence do we know that one cannot swear [a valid oath] to violate the precepts? Front the verse, When a man … swear an oath … he shall not break his word,'4 [this implies,] he may not break his word,5 but he must break a word [i.e., an oath] in respect of Heavenly matters.6 Now, why are vows different: because it is written, When a man vow a vow unto the Lord … he shall not break his word?7 But [of] oaths too it is written, or swear an oath unto the Lord he shall not break his word?8 — Abaye answered: In that case [vows] one says: 'The pleasure of the sukkah be forbidden me';9 but in this case [oaths] one says; 'I swear that I shall not benefit from the sukkah'.10 Raba objected: Were the precepts then given for enjoyment?11 But Raba answered: There [in the case of vows] one says, 'The sitting in the sukkah be forbidden me';12 but here [oaths] one says, 'I swear not to sit in the sukkah'.
Now, do we learn that one cannot swear to transgress the precepts from this verse: do we not rather deduce it from elsewhere? For it was taught: If one swears to annul a precept, and does not, I might think that he is liable,13
Original footnotes renumbered.
- Save that their binding character is not so rigid as that of oaths; but if not binding at all, the term is inapplicable.
- V. Mishnah 25b; that indicates that these vows are quite invalid.
- For as stated in the Mishnah on 14b, such vows are indeed binding, but as explained by Rabina (v. 15a), only by Rabbinical Law; whereas oaths of a similar nature are Biblically valid.
- Num. XXX, 3.
- I.e., when it refers to human, optional matters.
- I.e., when the subject of the vow is obligatory.
- Ibid. Implying that it is binding even when referring to Divine, non-optional matters. This is inferred by regarding unto (k) as meaning against: i.e., when a man vows contrary to the Lord's precepts.
- Ibid. Not actually; but as to the Lord immediately precedes or swear an oath, it may he regarded as referring to it.
- Hence it is binding, as one may not coy that which he has vowed not to enjoy.
- I.e., the oath falls primarily upon the person. v. supra 2b; but one cannot free himself from a Biblical obligation.
- Technically speaking, one cannot be said to drive physical enjoyment from the fulfilment of a precept, and therefore a vow in these terms would not be binding. One's highest enjoyment should be in obedience to God's word. [Apart from its halachic implications, the object of this saying was to keep the ethical principle free from any admixture of the idea of utility V. Lazarus, M. Ethics of Judaism, I, p. 284.]
- Thus the vow falls upon the sukkah, which is rendered forbidden, and upon the person; therefore it is valid.
- For swearing falsely.