They sent word from there (sc. Palestine]:2 Be on guard against scabs; take good care (to study] in company3 and be heedful (not to neglect] the children of the poor,4 for from them Torah goeth forth, as it is written, The water shall flow out of his buckets (mi-dalyaw]:5 [meaning], from the dallim [poor] amongst them goeth forth Torah.6 And why is it not usual for scholars to give birth to sons who are scholars? — Said R. Joseph, That it might not be maintained, The Torah is their legacy.7 R. Shisha, the son of R. Idi, said: That they should not be arrogant towards the community. Mar Zutra said: Because they act high-handedly against the community.8 R. Ashi said: Because they call people asses.9 Rabina said: Because they do not first utter a blessing over the Torah.10 For Rab Judah said in Rab's name: What is meant by, Who is the wise man, that he may understand this [… for what is the land destroyed etc.]?11 Now, this question was put to the Sages, Prophets, and Ministering Angels,12 but they could not answer it, until the Almighty Himself did so, as it is written, And the Lord said, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein:13 but is not 'have not obeyed my voice' identical with, 'neither walked therein'? — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: [It means] that they did not first recite a benediction over the Torah.14
Isi b. Judah did not come for three days to the college of R. Jose. Wardimus, the son of R. Jose, met him and asked, 'Why have you Sir, not been for these last three days at my father's school?' He replied, 'Seeing that I do not know your father's grounds [for his rulings], why should I attend?' 'Please repeat, Sir, what he told you,' he urged; 'perhaps I may know the reason.' Said he, 'As to what was taught, R. Jose said: Their laundering takes precedence over the lives of strangers, whence do we know a verse [to support this]? Said he, Because it is written, And the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts [hayyatham].15 Now, what is meant by hayyatham: Shall we say, 'beasts' — but beasts are included in cattle? But if hayyatham means literally 'their lives', is it not obvious?16 Hence it must surely refer to laundering,17 since [neglect of one's clothes] causes the pains of scabs.18
R. JOSE SAID: THESE ARE NOT VOWS OF SELF-DENIAL. The scholars propounded: In the view of R. Jose, can he [the husband] annul them as matters affecting their mutual relationship?19 — Come and hear: R. JOSE SAID: THESE ARE NOT VOWS OF SELF-DENIAL, implying however that they are matters affecting their mutual relationship.20 — [No.] Perhaps he argues to them on their view. [Thus:] In my opinion they are not even matters affecting their mutual relationship: but you who maintain that they are vows of self-denial, should at least concede to me that these are not vows of self-denial.21 What [is our decision on the matter]? — Adda b. Ahabah said: He can annul them, R. Huna said: He cannot annul,
Nedarim 81bbecause no fox dies in the earth of its own lair.1
It was taught in accordance with R. Adda b. Ahabah: Vows involving self-denial he [the husband] can annul in respect of both himself and herself, and in respect to herself and strangers;2 but if they involve no self-denial, he can annul in respect of himself and herself, but not in respect to herself and strangers. E.g., if she vows, 'Konam be fruit unto me'? he can annul: 'Konam that I prepare nought for my father,' 'for your brother,' 'for your father,' 'for my brother,' or 'that I place no straw before your cattle,' or, 'water before your herds,' he cannot annul.3 '[Konam] that I may not paint or rouge or cohabit,' he can annul as a matter affecting their mutual relationship; 'that I do not make your bed,' or, 'prepare4 you drink,' or, 'wash your hands or feet,' he need not annul.5 R. Gamaliel said: He must annul [them], as it is written, he shall not break his word.6 Alternatively, 'he shall not break his word' teaches that a Sage cannot absolve himself from his own vows. Now, whom do we know to regard [a vow], 'that I paint not nor rouge' as matters affecting their mutual relationship [and not of self-denial]? R. Jose;7 yet it is stated that he can annul them as matters affecting their mutual relationship.
The Master said: ' … "or cohabit," he can annul as a matter affecting their mutual relationship.' How so? If she vows, 'The pleasure of cohabitation with me [be forbidden] to you', why annul it, seeing that she is bound to afford it to him?8 — But it means that she vowed, 'the pleasure of cohabitation with you be forbidden me,' and it accords with R. Kahana's dictum, viz., [If she vows,] 'The pleasure of cohabitation with me [be forbidden] to you,' she is compelled to grant it; but if she vows, 'The pleasure of cohabitation with you [be forbidden] to me,' he must annul it, because no person may be fed with what is forbidden to him. Who is the author of what was taught: Things that are in themselves permissible, and yet are treated by others as forbidden, you may not treat them as permitted in order to nullify them? Who is the author? — R. Gamaliel. For it was taught: R. Gamaliel said: He must annul them, as it is written, he shall not break his word;9 alternatively, 'he shall not break his word' teaches that a Sage cannot absolve himself from his own vows.10
Raba asked R. Nahman: In the Rabbis' view, is [a vow to refrain from] cohabitation [a vow of] self-denial or a matter affecting their mutual relationship? — He replied, We have learnt this: [If she vows,] 'May I be removed from all Jews,'11
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