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Nederim I might have made by mistake

Question:

Hi,

I struggle with anxiety and OCD behaviour regarding different areas of Halacha to the extent that I have been receiving professional help from a therapist for OCD. One area that constantly bothers me is Nedarim and Shavuas. I know that if someone does something three times it can become binding with the strength of an oath even without verbalising any neder.

I have become very anxious about thinking nedarim to the extent that it really consumes me and I have many thoughts going through my head which I worry may be binding.

Last year, when my anxiety was really bad, I decided I would try and do shnayim mikra every week. When I did this my anxiety kicked in and I was having uncontrollable thoughts of taking it on as a neder and that if I didnt complete every sedra my wife should be osur to me. I know this may sound crazy and I have been receiving therapy which Bh has reduced my levels of anxiety somewhat. I don’t remember ever saying bli neder and as a result I constantly fear that together with my thoughts and by acting upon them, by trying to complete the shnayim mikra, they have become binding. In the end I never manged to complete all the shanyim mikra as there were some sedras that I missed. I have never directly asked a rov about this as I have been to embarrassed and just hoped that they were not binding and that having anxiety made me patur from keeping these potential nedarim.

More recently my anxiety levels have reduced and I have been coping better on a day to day basis. This morning I was davening shemona esra and someone walked into the room in the shul I was davening and and I had a thought not to look round to see who it was. I dont remeber if I specifically thought that if I look round my wife will be asur to me, but this thought about my wife becoming asur to me is something I often uncontrollably think when situations like this happen. I wasnt initially anxious but then I did happen to look round and quickly became very worried about this too. I feared that maybe this too would be binding. I was especially worried as my levels of anxiety have generally been reduced and so maybe this time it is a real neder as I cant excuse it with OCD like behaviour.

Please can you clarify the whether any of the above is a problem and if so what should I do about it?

Thanks

 

Answer:

Thank you for reaching out to us.

I am not a therapist, to help you with your OCD, but one thing I can say is that even if you are going to be nervous, it has to have some basis in halacha. The halacha is that if a person merely thought of doing a mitzva, that is NOT considered a neder, (except for giving tzedakah). Therefore all of these things, that you are afraid about because they might be a neder, are simply not nedarim. Additionally, the only way to make something prohibited on yourself is if you use the proper terminology to make it into such a neder. Thinking that something should be assur to you is not a neder, so you do not have a halachic basis for the nervousness.

Regarding saying shnayim mikra, it is not a neder if you said it three times in a row. The reason is because doing a good act three times which can become a neder only applies to things that we don’t have to do. Since we are obligated to say shanyim mikra, doing what you are supposed to do is not going to cause it to become a neder. You should definitely try your best to indeed say shnaim mikra, however there is no worry that it became a neder.

I hope you find this clarification helpful.

Best wishes

Sources:

Sharei Teshuva O:CH 460, Aruch Hashulchan Y:D258-39, Shulchan Aruch O:CH 285-1.

 

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