If a person (Reuven) makes a neder/nedevah to a shul for a certain amount of money (for example when buying an aliyah) and someone else (Shimon) comes along and offers to pay for this, is Reuven yotzei his obligation or since it’s a neder/nedevah then it falls on Reuven to fulfill the obligation and give the money? (Assuming Shimon didn’t first give the money to Reuven who bought the aliyah as a gift, but rather Shimon went ahead and paid the shul in place of him).

Answer:

The Shach (Yoreh De’ah 259:9) and other poskim (see Chochmas Adam 145:5) mention that for all matters of nedarim we follow the principle of umdena, meaning we evaluate the intention of the person involved, and we follow the evaluation.

This principle will also apply to the person who paid the money (Shimon): If Shimon pays on behalf of Reuven, we can assume that the gabbai who receives the money, and wishes to accept the payment on behalf of Reuven, makes a legal transfer of the money on behalf of Reuven, so that Reuven’s neder is paid off.

This idea is mentioned by Maaseh Ha-Tzedakah, in conjunction with the hataras nedarim of Erev Rosh Hashanah. He also mentions that it would be permitted for Reuven to do hatarah, out of doubt, for the neder.

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11 Responses to “Paying Somebody’s Neder”

  1. Where is this mentioned in the sefer Maseh Ha-Tzedakah?

    • It is on p. 244.

  2. I am having a difficult time understanding this teshuvah. That which we follow the principle of ‘umdena’ when it comes to matters of nedarim (b’frat by tzeddeka) means we evaluate the intent of where the person wanted to give the Tzedeka (i.e. did he want to give it to family or to other anayim. Look in the makoros that you quoted. Perhaps look in ShuT R’ Eliyahu Mizrachi itself (siman 53) the makor of the Shach.)

    However that we say someone else can come along and pay off this persons neder to tzeddaka, I don’t think that would fall into this principle. Unless you want to say that it really wasn’t a neder that this person wanted to give money to a shul. His whole intent to begin with was that money should go to the shul, somehow, in someway…Doesn’t seem like the case to me. This person wanted to buy an aliyah and understands in doing so makes his obligation like a neder/nedevah to the shul of a certain amount of money (many shuls look at this way.) How can his friend come along and patur him from that? If another Moreh Horah Muvhak would be mitzarif to this pasuk and savarah with a better explanation then I could understand it, however to be m’farsaim it as a correct pasuk to this shailo is difficult for me to understand.

    • You are right that there is no proof from the umdena of nedarim themselves to the question of paying off a neder.
      However, in principle we always follow the idea of a clear umdena, and in this case, where one person wishes to pay off the debt (neder) of somebody else, the intention (between him and the gabbai who receives the money) is clearly that the debt (neder) should be cleared.
      After re-cheking, the sefer mentioned in the response (writted by Rav Elchanan Peretz, a Dayan on a Jerusalem Beis Din) writes this as a concrete ruling (p. 244), and I think the sevara is very clear.
      Note that there are several instances in which we find similar umdenas, for instance in the Nachal Yitzchak (75:20, sec. 9) concerning kessef kiddushin, where we assume that the prospective wife receives the money on behalf of her husband, so that she can then be wed with the money — which is virtually the same as the undena in our case, in which the gabbai receives the money on behalf of the person who made the neder, so that he will be free of his neder.
      At the very least, this is sufficient to make a safek, which will allow one to rely on the hatarah of Rosh Hashanah (as mentioned), or, to be on the stringent side, to do hataras nedarim.

  3. Thanks for your response. Perhaps I am missing a point in how a neder works. A neder in this case is something between Reuvan and the Gabbai or between Reuvan and Hashem and the Gabbai is who will collect on it to help Reuvan fulfill his neder. When dealing with a debt and Choshen Mishpat I can understand if Shimon wants to come along and pay it off for me, but how does it work in this case in regards to nederim and nedavos. Again I think I am perhaps lacking an understanding in this point. Maybe you could clarify.

    I will have to try and find the sefer to see it inside. HebrewBooks.org doesn’t seem to have it. I mentioned this savarah to Talmidei Chochamim (not any Moreh Horeh yet) and it was shver for them to understand in terms of how a neder works and that this savarah can be applied. But like I said I want to see how the sefer uses it.

  4. I mentioned this teretz to a few talmidei chochamim and poskim who also had difficulty with it. Although the money was paid to the place it was meant to go, how does that fulfill his neder? Perhaps you could quote the lashon of the Maaseh Ha-Tzedeka to understand better or where he is getting it from. Also when someone makes a neder to give money to the shul the money has to come from himself. Not only that he seemingly can’t take it from maser money rather it has to come from his own money. How then could someone else give the money?

    • Again, the rationale of the ruling is that the gabai is mezakeh the money for Reuven, meaning that by Shimon giving it to the gabai, the money becomes Reuven’s money, and the gabai effectively receives the money from Reuven himself.
      Because in a halachic sense Reuven has actually given the money to the designated cause, he has fulfilled his neder.
      I don’t think the lashon of the quoted sefer is required here.

  5. It’s important to bring a better re’ah to this svarah as it’s be rejected already by many Talmidei Chochamim. More importantly I saw in ShuT Oneg Yom Tov that he deals with exactly this shailo of paying off someones neder (YD Siman 87)
    See here http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14404&st=&pgnum=245&hilite=

    His conclusion is that one is not makiyum his neder if someone else pays off the tzedeka. See there for his lengthy discussion and all his proofs. I heard there are cholkim however on the Oneg Yom Tov, if I find them I will post a comment again with the cholkim.

    Yagdil Torah V’Adir…

  6. To Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer — Did you have time to look into this? Do you have an revisions or additional proofs for the psak given?

    • I consulted on the matter with my mentor, Rav Asher Weiss, who reaction was that it is simple (peshita) that after somebody else pays off his neder, the person who made the neder is exempt from paying it.

  7. I’m familiar with R’ Asher Weiss. He is a unbelievable Talmid Chocham (as are all of the brothers in the family who I know as well.) In fact to his brother R’ Berel Weiss it was the complete opposite (I spoke to him once about it.) Pashut to him that the person does *not* fulfill his neder. In any case while I respect his opinion in the matter he must bring a re’ah or a Teshuva or something from before him to back it up. R’ Asher Weiss because of his gadlus in Torah is a big m’chadesh however his chiddushim are not always l’halacha. The Oneg Yom Tov brought one possible makor, a Rambam that brings from the gemorah in Ercin that one can bring a karbon that someone else made a neder to bring, however the Oneg Yom Tov pushes off this possible re’ah (v’tzrich iyun) he brings many points over there and af al pi cain his masakana was that the neder is not fulfilled. To simply accept a psak in this matter (or any shailo) bli tamim (no matter how pashut it is to the posek) is difficult to do. If we would be dealing with the Chasam Sofer saying a psak bli tamim (which I don’t think would happen) it would be a different discussion :)…

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