Nedarim 10:6-7

Nedarim 10:6

Rabbi Eliezer says that if a woman is waiting to perform yibum (and she performed maamar, which expresses an intent to marry her deceased husband’s brother), he may overturn her vows – whether there is one surviving brother or two. Rabbi Yehoshua says he may do so only if there is one surviving brother, not two. Rabbi Akiva says a surviving brother may not revoke her vows whether there is one or two. Rabbi Eliezer balked at this: if one can absolve the vows of a woman he chose for himself, shouldn’t he be able to absolve those of a woman selected for him by Heaven? Rabbi Akiva disagreed: just because this is the case with a woman he chose for himself – over whom no others have dominion – you can’t say that it should also be the case with a woman selected for him by Heaven because there others do have dominion (namely, the other brothers, who are just as connected to the widow as he is). Rabbi Yehoshua pointed out that Rabbi Akiva’s objection only applies when there’s more than one brother; what about when there’s only one surviving brother? Rabbi Akiva replied that a betrothed woman is completely attached to her husband while a woman awaiting yibum is only partially attached to her deceased husband’s brother.

Nedarim 10:7

If a man tells his wife that all vows she may make from that time until he returns from a certain place are binding, his statement is ineffective. If he says they are voided, Rabbi Eliezer says they are voided and the Sages say that they are not. Rabbi Eliezer said that if a husband can void vows that are already binding upon her, it should go without saying that he should be able to void vows that are not yet in effect (i.e., to keep them from becoming binding in the first place). The Sages replied that Numbers 30:14 specifies “her husband may uphold (a vow) and her husband can void it” – only one that can be upheld can be voided. One that cannot be upheld cannot be voided.
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