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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 26a

But Raba maintained: All agree that if he declared, 'Had I known that my father was among you I would have said, "So-and-so are forbidden but my father is permitted",' all are permitted.1  They are in dispute only if he declared, 'Had I known that my father was among you, I would have said, "You are all forbidden except my father".' Beth Shammai agree with R. Meir, who maintains, one's first words are to be reckoned with, and Beth Hillel agree with R. Jose who said, one's last words count.2

R. Papa objected to Raba: In what instance did R. Akiba rule that a vow which is partially annulled is entirely annulled? E.g., [If one said.] 'Konam, that I do not benefit from any of you,' if one was [subsequently] permitted [to afford him benefit], they are all permitted. [But if he said,] 'Konam that I do not benefit from A, B, C,' etc.: if the first was [subsequently] permitted, all are permitted; but if the last-named was permitted, he alone is permitted, but the rest are forbidden. As for Rabbah, it is well, [for] he can apply the first clause3  to one who [in the first instance] enumerated A, B, C, etc.;4  while the second clause5  refers to one who [in the first instance] declared, 'to any of you.'6  But as for yourself: granted that you can apply the first clause to one who [in his second statement] declared, 'to any of you.'7

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Even Beth Shammai regard such as a partially annulled vow, and accept R. Akiba's dictum.
  2. The dispute refers to his second declaration, which is divided into 'first words' and 'last words'. The first words are, 'you are all forbidden'; since these are identical with his earlier declaration, Beth Shammai maintain that his vow has not even been partially annulled. His last words are 'except my father', since these definitely limit the scope of the earlier declaration, Beth Hillel maintain that the vow has thereby been partially, and consequently entirely, annulled.
  3. Viz., 'konam that I do not benefit from all of you'.
  4. Subsequently altering it to the form given in the Mishnah.
  5. 'Konam that I do not benefit from A, B, C', etc.
  6. Hence the actual forms given refer to the second declaration. Now, Rabbah maintains that the dispute of Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai, as that of R. Akiba and his predecessors, refers to a case where the second declaration, besides excluding a particular person, differs in form from the first. Hence in the two instances dealt with here it is the view only of R. Akiba (and Beth Hillel) that that absolution extends to all; but his predecessors hold that even in these instances absolution is limited to the person definitely excluded. This explanation does not allow for the distinction drawn in the two subdivisions of the second clause, and Raba draws attention to it in his reply. — A number of varying interpretations have been given in this passage. The one adopted here is that of Tosaf.
  7. Hence, as explained by Raba above, this ruling is disputed by R. Akiba's predecessors; therefore it is given as an illustration of R. Akiba's view on), implying that his predecessors disagree.
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Nedarim 26b

But as for the second clause, where one enumerated, A, B, C — is this R. Akiba's view [only]: why do the Rabbis disagree therewith? But you say that all agree that the vow is entirely annulled? — Raba answered: Even according to Rabbah, is R. Akiba's ruling satisfactory? How have you explained it: that he said, 'any of you': who then is the 'first', and who is the 'last'? But [explain it thus]: The first clause means that he said, 'any of you'; but the second refers e.g., to one who made each dependent on the preceding, vowing, B be as A, C be as B, etc.1  This may be proved too, for it is taught: if the middle person was permitted, those mentioned after him are [also] permitted, but not those named before.

R. Adda b. Ahaba objected to Raba: 'Konam, if I taste onions, because they are injurious to the heart': then one said to him, But the wild onion2  is good for the heart — he is permitted to partake of wild onions, and not only of these, but of all onions. Such a case happened before R. Meir, who gave absolution in respect of all onions. Does it not mean that he declared, 'Had I known that wild onions are good for the heart, I would have vowed: "all onions be forbidden me, but wild onions be permitted"'?3  — No. This refers to one who declared, 'Had I known that wild onions are good for the heart, I would have vowed, "Such and such onions be forbidden me, but wild onions be permitted"'; and therefore R. Meir's ruling agrees with both R. Akiba and the Rabbis.

Rabina objected to Raba: R. Nathan said: A vow may be partly permitted and partly binding. E.g., if one vowed not to eat a basket [of figs],

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Therefore if by his second statement A is excluded, the rest are likewise excluded. But if the last-named is excluded, the vow remains in full force with respect to those mentioned earlier.
  2. Rashi: the name of a place — probably Cyprus.
  3. This contradicts Raba's view that Beth Shammai's ruling, confining absolution only to that explicitly excluded, is in agreement with R. Meir. Here we see that R. Meir himself granted complete absolution.
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