Parshat Matos/Masei – The importance and dangers of vows and oaths

Mindfully Jewish, episode #4. The importance and dangers of vows and oaths
a podcast by Janne L. Punski-Hoogervorst, MD

In this week’s Parshat, we are told by Moshe:
אִישׁ֩ כִּֽי־יִדֹּ֨ר נֶ֜דֶר לַֽיהֹוָ֗ה אֽוֹ־הִשָּׁ֤בַע שְׁבֻעָה֙ לֶאְסֹ֤ר אִסָּר֙ עַל־נַפְשׁ֔וֹ לֹ֥א יַחֵ֖ל דְּבָר֑וֹ כְּכָל־הַיֹּצֵ֥א מִפִּ֖יו יַֽעֲשֶֽׂה:
Or in translation: If a man makes a vow to the Lord or makes an oath to prohibit himself, he shall not violate his word; according to whatever came out of his mouth, he shall do.

But what does it mean to make a vow or oath? Why are they so important? And why does the Rambam teach us that to vows (nedarim) are a sign of undermining Hashems mitzvot? In this weeks episode, we discuss these questions and relate them to what we know about the meaning of oaths in our societies.

As Nietzsche said:
”Man himself will really have to become reliable, regular, necessary, even in his own self-image, so that he, as someone making a promise, is answerable to his own future.”

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