Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
Continuing yesterday’s theme, ״this is the word” “זה הדבר״ means utter clarity and being synonymous with God’s will, we find a Peri Tzaddik (Mattos 1:1) that applies this understanding to the use of this phrase, which introduces the Torah’s section on nedarim. (Bamidbar 30:2 וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־רָאשֵׁ֣י הַמַּטּ֔וֹת לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ ) He says, really one should not be allowed to make any vows at all. As we have learned, the rabbis were ambivalent and concerned about making vows. The rabbis considered most vows as coming from impulsive acts of anger, and at best, momentary gestures of piety, that in the long run cannot be upheld (Nedarim 9a). Yet, we also know that there is the rare person whose vows are sincere acts of devotion, and will upheld without resentment, and are used as an aid to develop a higher spiritual sensitivity via abstention, as seen in the story of Shimon Hatzaddik’s encounter of the young Nazarite lad (Nedarim 9b).
Ordinarily, it would be presumptuous to create new prohibitions, as it states in Yerushalmi (Nedarim 9:1):
רִבִּי דִימִי בְשֵׁם רִבִּי יִצְחָק. לֹא דַייֵךְ מַה שֶׁאָֽסְרָה לָךְ הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא שֶּׁאַתָה מְבַקֵּשׁ לֶאֱסוֹר עָלֶיךָ דְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים. לֶאֱסוֹר אִסָּר.
Rav Dimi in the name of Rabbi Isaac: Is it not enough what the Torah forbade you, that you want to forbid other things for yourself?
Rav Tzaddok says that this is hinted in the phrase “this is the word“, meaning to say, if you are so clear in your thought and intention, when making this vow, and your motives are so clear, then you have the right to claim that it is the word of God.
Sometimes we have to take bold steps. When we do that, we must check in to our hearts and minds with clarity and honesty to make sure our intentions are pure, and in harmony with God’s will.
Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation
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