Which nedarim can a father or husband overturn? Specifically [those in] things that cause personal suffering, such as washing, jewelry, eye shadow or rouge, and anything of the like. The husband can also overturn [oaths in] things that do not involve personal suffering if they are things between a man and his wife and would cause strife between them. However, these are only if she is living with him, and once she is widowed or divorced, she is prohibited in them.
A father can overturn the nedarim ["hafaras nedarim"] of his daughter until she matures. That is, until she is 12 years and 6 months old; and that is if she doesn’t marry. A husband can overturn the nedarim of his wife.
How do we overturn? He says three times “overturned” or “canceled”, or any other language which indicates that he is uprooting the neder from it’s roots — whether if he says so in front of her or not in front of her.
However, with a language of “release” ["hatars nedarim"] the father or husband have no power. Also, they can not overturn the neder except on the day they hear of it. That is, if they hear in the begining of the night, they can overturn [the neder any time during] the entire night and the entire day that is after it. But if they hear during the day, right before the stars come out, they can only overturn [the neder] until the stars come out, and after that they can not overturn it.
On Shabbos he should say to her “it is overturned for you” was he would on a weekday. Instead he should anull it in his heart and say to her “go and eat” [if the vow was not to eat something], and the like.
If the father or husband first said that they desire this neder, even if he does not say so explicitly but says some language which indicates that he desires it, even if he only thinks in his hear that he desires her neder, he can no longer overturn it.
I discussed the concept behind this in the past. Just the final conclusion without the justification, to tease you into chasing that link:
By explicitly using the term ishahh rather than baalah when discussing the anulment of vows, we see that the husband has the power of hafaras nedarim not in his role of provider and therefore holding control (as anyone who holds the purse-strings will), but because it’s his role in the partnership to be the one who sets new directions, just as it is hers to insure that they are developed in a holy way.
Even though with respect to all [other] mitzvos of the Torah a boy doesn’t become an adult until he is 13 years old and [can] bring [two pubic] hairs, and a girl isn’t an adult until she is 12 years old and [can] bring signs [of puberty], when it comes to the subject of neder and shevu’ah they have precedence by one year.
To explain: A male child who is 12 years and one day old [i.e. on his 12th birthday onward] and a female child who is 11 years and one day old [her 11th birthday], even if they didn’t bring any signs [of puberty, because they didn't develop yet], if they understand in Whose name they made a neder or shevu’ah, there neder is a neder, and their shevu’ah, a shevu’ah.
But younger than this age, even if they [have this] understanding, their words are nothing. In any case, we scold them and hit them so that they shouldn’t habituate their tongues in nedarim and shevu’os. And if it’s a small and easy matter that doesn’t cause personal suffering, we decree upon them that they should fulfill them.
How do we unbind/permit the neder or shevu’ah? He goes to three men who are committed to the Torah, where one of them is adept in the laws of nedarim so that he will know which nedarim can be unbound and which of them can not be unbound, and how they are unbound, and these [three] permit it for him.
And someone who makes a neder in a dream, it is better that 10 who are committed to the Torah permit it for him.
This being the Qitzur, we aren’t really told how one is released from an oath. Rather, he is told to go to the beis din and they’ll know what to do. The key to hataras nedarim is showing how the neder was based on incorrect or incomplete information, and was therefore made in error. I assume that’s vague enough to avoid abuse by someone who only thinks they know what they’re doing, and thus in the spirit of our text.
The second piece isn’t halakhah, as can be seen in the “tov she- – it is better that” rather than a requirement. A neder made in a dream could be seen as less binding, since there was no thought reinforced by speech. On the other hand, it shows something going on at a deeper level of the person’s persona. Therefore it doesn’t really require annulment from a halachic standpoint, but the person may wish to work out what’s going on — and thus the value of a minyan.
Someone who practiced some stringency with things that are permitted by the law because of making a fence [about the law] or separation [from temptation], such as making fasts during the days in which we say Selichos, or not to eat meat nor drink wine from the 17th of Tammuz on [until 9 Av], and the like — even if he only practiced it the first time but he had in mind to act this way forever, or if he did it three times and it wasn’t in his mind to act this way for ever and he didn’t [explicitly] make the condition that it should be without a neder, and now he wants to change because he isn’t healthy — he needs a removal [of the nefer]. He opens with [stating his] regret, that he regrets that he acted in a manner for the purpses of a nefer.
Therefore, if someone wants to practice some stringency for the sake of a “fence” or separation, he should first say that he isn’t accepting upon himself to do it as a neder, and he should also say that he doesn’t have in mind to do so except this time or those times when he wants, and not forever.
The neder doesn’t come into existence unless his mouth and heart are the same. However, if he made a neder by accident, that his thought wasn’t like what came out of his mouth, or if he contemplated a neder in his heart but it didn’t come out of his mouth, it is not a neder.
That an unintentional oath, a misspeech, isn’t binding, shouldn’t surprise.
However, it is very Jewish that the reverse — an unexpressed thought — lack the same reality as an expressed one. In general, Judaism focuses on how we impact ourselves. The thought becomes more real and more ingrained once it’s acted upon.
Someone who makes nedarim in order to fix his middos, he is proactive and praised. How? If he was a glutton, and swore that he won’t eat meat for a certain time. Or if he was an alcoholic, and prohibits wine and other intoxicating drinks. And similarly someone who was prideful of his appearance and accepts upon himself nazarite laws. And the like. Nedarim like these are the service of Hashem, may His repuration be blessed, and about these our sages of blessed memory said, “nedarim are a fence around separation [from temptations one can not resist].”
And sin all cases even in nedarim like these, it is not for a person to habituate himself [in them]. Rather, he should overpower his [negative] inclination even without nedarim.
I invite people to comment on my translation of “perishus” as “separation [from temptations one can not resist].” It should really be something more like “doesn’t reliably resist”, but the entire line of thought isn’t a given. How would you define “perishus“?
If his intent is to establish for himself some [program of learning] in Torah or to do some mitzvah, and he is afraid that maybe he will falter afterward, or he is afraid the [evil] inclination will lead him astray to do some prohibition or stop him from doing some mitzvah, he is permitted to motivate his soul with a neder or shevu’ah. As Rav said, “Where to se know that one may swear to do a mitvah to motivate himself even though he already was sworn and stood at Mount Sinai? Since it says ‘I swore and I commit to keep Your righteous laws.'”
Even if he dd not say them in the language of a neder or shevu’ah, just mundane speech, it is a neder and he is obligated to fulfill it. Therefore, a person must be careful when he says that he would do any act of mitzvah that he say “without a neder“. It is a good for a person to habituate himself thus, even when he is saying to do something of his own will, so that he shouldn’t stumble, G-d forbid, in the sin of [broken] oaths.
One must be careful not to make a neder about anything [i.e. any object]. Even for tzedaqah it is not good to make a neder. Rather, if he has something in his possession which he wishes to give, he should give it immediately. And if he doesn’t, he should wait until he does have, and give it without a neder. If they [some group] are pledging tzedaqah and he must pledge with them, he should say explicitly that he is pledging without a neder. Similarly when they remember souls [i.e. say Yizkor] that they vow money to tzedaqah, it is appropriate to say “without a neder“.
Also see ahead, se’if 9, that if he is in a time of trouble, he is permitted to make a neder.
“Speak little, and do much.”
The sole exception appears to be when someone needs merit now, and therefore wants to make a commitment in a time of need. And even there Rabbi Ganzfried says “permitted”, not “laudable”.
Similarly [just as one avoid a neder, a vow about an object], so too one should distance oneself from a shevu’ah [an oath about an action]. However, if he erred and took an oath about something, he should not ask [a sage to find a problem annulling it] but should uphold his shevu’ah — even if it causes pain/hardship. As it says, “he that swears to his own ill, and does not annul” (Tehillim 15:4) and after [the rest of the list of good deeds being praised it continues], “whomever does these will not be removed forever” (v. 5). We do not ask [raising a fault annulling the oath] except in times of duress.
This se’if is pretty straightforward once you know the difference between a neder and a shevu’ah.
A neder applies to an object. I prohibit use of an object, I sanctify it.
A shevu’ah applies to the person; it is an oath to perform or renounce an action.
The gemara that makes this distinction, at the beginning of tractate Nedarim, is the origin of the famous distinction (chaqira) that Brisk uses in many situations — gavra (person) vs. cheftzah (object).
I wrote about this topic, how a neder prohibits something “al nafsho” in a way that a shevu’ah does not and thus how they serve very different roles in one’s avodas Hashem. If you’re interested see here.