Friday, September 22, 2006

I Ain't No Expert

What's up with Hatarat Nedarim (annulment of vows) before Rosh Hashana or Yom Kipur? I understand that technically, it's perfectly fine to make up an impromptu court with three adult male Jews you just yanked off the street. But if everyone knows that that's what generally goes on, why does the text begin by addressing the three "judges" as dayanim mumhhin, 'expert judges'? I may know the basics of what Hatarat Nedarim is for, but i'm sure not an expert in the laws of vows and assumed obligations! And I doubt your average layman-judge-off-the-street is either. So what's the deal?

Have a כתיבה וחתימה טובה,
תזכו לשנים רבות
and gutyontef, gutyaw.

and remember:


Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

aha, and eating fish-heads, leeks, and twirling chickens around your head makes perfect sense, right?

9/22/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Those things are symbolic. They make sense because of the close relationship between the action/food and the wish/desire/prayer that they represent. When i take money (tzedaqa tatzil [tarnegolim] mimavet) and twirl it around my head and give it to charity, i am making a declaration that this one last semi-symbolic but also very real act of Tzedaqa should represent all the other mitzvot i've done to outweigh my ‘aveirot. If i were to eat a piece of celery with raisins, and say "yehi ratzon that we should have a raise-in salary", there's a clear connection between the Symbolic Act and its Nimshal.
Somehow i just don't feel "symbolic" of an Expert judge :-P

9/22/2006 10:40 AM  
Blogger The Observer said...

And, I'm thinking this morning, that doing in only once in a lifetime ought to be enough. After all, the first part gets rid of all the old vows, and the second prevents any new ones. And yet we do it every year? And how come the women don't get this handy "out"?

9/22/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Good questions...

maybe there's a time-limit?
and maybe women just aren't accustomed to going to Shahhris during the week, so they never got into it?

(you can see, as i said, i'm not an expert :-P)

9/22/2006 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Midevar sheker tirchok.

If the three dayanim are not mumchim, omit that word.

The process will not be invalidated.

9/22/2006 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To elaborate a bit -

R. Eliyohu Lopian z"l, when leading the services on the high holidays, in the hineni heoni mima'as prayer, omitted 'nirash vinifchad...', as he felt it was not true in his case.

Same principle applies here.

9/22/2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Squash? Okay, makes 'sense'.

And avoid ketchup, so the new year will have no gekvetsh.

[Two puns in the condiment - both incredibly lame. I swear I'll never do it again... bli neder.]

9/22/2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Thanks a lot, Anonymous! I'll try and remember that for next year. Makes complete sense (even more sense than symbolic foods).

And Back of the Hill, i avoid ketchup all year long. :-P

9/22/2006 4:29 PM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

when i was in high school (12th grade?) i was drafted by my gemara teacher to serve on a court he had convened so his girl's class could recite hatarat nedarim.

(i bring this up in reference to the question about women saying it, not the question about dayyanim mumhim)

9/25/2006 1:39 AM  
Blogger Knitter of shiny things said...


Woman can also do the hatarat nedarim. I usually make sure to make it to morning minyan some time before Yom Kippur in order to do it... and if not, there's always Kol Nidre...


You changed your blog name?!?!?! Somehow I don't think "Eat Squash" has the same ring to it as "The Hall of the Goblin King." Is this a permanent thing?

9/25/2006 2:32 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Even more curiously, hatarah only needs 3 people if the dayyanim are *not* mumchim, as a mumcheh can be matir a neder even as a yachid (aka sh'eilas chacham).

9/25/2006 2:34 AM  
Anonymous rebecca m said...

women DO say it in many communities-- at my HS, they gathered all the students in the shul to say it together. At my seminary, they brought together 3 teachers to be a beit din.

however, I've always found it rather insulting that 3 middle school boys (happened that way once) had the power to release me of any obligations I'd taken on.

partly because I, as a girl, couldn't do it, but these immature kids could (yes, a larger issue I have with halacha)

and partly, because, at least with real judges, who hear a real case of a person who got in over their heads, it makes sense to have an out. But we definitely exploit it.

And so, I don't do hatarat nedarim anymore

9/25/2006 9:14 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

"your average layman-judge-off-the-street"

See this.

9/25/2006 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with calling just any people 'mumchim' is two-fold.

1) sheila of sheker

2) flattery. Flattery is an issur deoraisa according to at least one authority. Perhaps there is also an extra issur of flattery with a judge. Perhaps it is like a bribe to his ego.

Of course, someone could say that the fact that the person is just reading a text, rather than personally choosing those words obviates the problems, but why not be machmir and avoid sheilas of issurim, esp. on erev rosh hashonoh ? Is 'I was just following orders (of the siddur publisher)' such a great defense ?

9/26/2006 3:48 AM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

And, I'm thinking this morning, that doing in only once in a lifetime ought to be enough.

Reminds me of the story in Yated a few years back about the 6 year old who was told they couldn't stay up for selichot, maybe next year. "Next year?" she wept. "But the Rebbe said that we had to give up all our averiahs and not do them any more, so why would we have slichot next year?" (Translation into Sepharad done by yours truly)

9/28/2006 3:16 PM  
Blogger Elie said...

I never understood the need for all these hataras nedorim "beis din" sessions. Doesn't kol nidrei serve this exact purpose?

My dad never did hataros nedarim growing up, and I haven't adopted it as an adult.

9/29/2006 10:57 AM  
Blogger Elie said...

That last line should have said "My dad never did hataros nedarim when I was growing up, and I haven't adopted it as an adult."

9/29/2006 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Joe in Australia said...

It's like lawyers referring to their opponents as "my learned friend". It's actually a thinly veiled insult that on the the one hand recognises their statutory position (as members of a court they can release vows) but on the other hand points out their lack of intellectual attainment through excessive praise.

10/03/2006 5:46 AM  
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