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Steinsaltz

The Gemara answers: We are speaking of sin-offerings when we assert that that mishna lists only prohibitions for which one is liable to receive karet for their intentional violation.

Ravina offered a different answer. He said: When the tanna teaches this case, he lists only those prohibitions that apply specifically to items that are edible. With regard to an oath, it is a matter that applies also to items that are not edible, and he does not teach it in that mishna.

The Gemara asks: But doesn’t that mishna include in its list the prohibition against deriving benefit from the misuse of consecrated property, which applies even to consecrated wood and stones?

The Gemara answers: Rather, when the tanna teaches this case, he lists those prohibitions that apply to tangible matters. With regard to an oath, it is something that also applies to intangible matters, such as: I will sleep, or: I will not sleep, and the tanna does not teach it in that mishna.

MISHNA: If one unwittingly takes a false oath about the past or breaks an oath he made about the future, both if it is an oath that addresses matters that concern oneself and if it is an oath that addresses matters that concern others, he is liable to bring a sliding-scale offering for an oath on an utterance. And likewise, an oath on an utterance may address both tangible matters and intangible matters.

How so? Examples of oaths about future actions that concern others are if one said: On my oath I will give so-and-so a particular item, or: On my oath I will not give it to him. Examples of such oaths about the past are if one said: On my oath I gave another a particular item, or: On my oath I did not give it to him.

Examples of oaths about the future that address intangible matters are where one said: On my oath I will sleep, or: On my oath I will not sleep. Examples of such oaths about the past are where one said: On my oath I slept, or: On my oath I did not sleep. Other examples of oaths about intangible matters are when one takes an oath, saying: I will throw a stone into the sea, or: I will not throw it, or: I threw it, or: I did not throw it.

Rabbi Yishmael says: One is liable only for an oath on an utterance taken about the future, as it is stated: “Or if anyone take an oath clearly with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall utter clearly with an oath” (Leviticus 5:4). The Torah refers explicitly only to oaths about what one will do in the future.

Rabbi Akiva said to him: If so, and one is liable only for oaths explicitly mentioned in the verse, then I have derived only that one is liable for an oath on an utterance with regard to matters to which doing evil and doing good apply. From where do I derive that one is liable for an oath on an utterance with regard to matters to which doing evil and doing good do not apply?

Rabbi Yishmael said to him: The halakha in these cases is derived by amplification of the meaning of the verse. Rabbi Akiva said to him: If the verse is amplified for this, i.e., to extend the halakha of an oath on an utterance to matters that do not involve doing evil or good, the verse is amplified for that, i.e., oaths about the past.

GEMARA: With regard to oaths about intangible matters, the Sages taught: There is a stringency that applies to vows and not to oaths, and there is a stringency that applies to oaths and not to vows. The stringency that applies to vows is that vows take effect with regard to a matter involving a mitzva, like they take effect with regard to an optional matter, which is not the case with regard to oaths. An oath not to perform a mitzva does not take effect at all.

The stringency that applies to oaths is that oaths take effect with regard to an intangible matter like they do with regard to a tangible matter, which is not the case with regard to vows.

§ The mishna teaches: How so? Examples are if one said: On my oath I will give so-and-so some item, or: On my oath I will not give it to him. What is the case of an oath in which he says: I will give? If we say that he takes an oath that he will give charity to a poor person, that is not an oath that takes effect, since he is under oath from Mount Sinai to give charity, as it is stated with regard to a poor person: “You shall give him” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

Rather, the case is where he said he would give a gift to a rich person. The oath takes effect, as there is no mitzva to do so.

§ The mishna teaches that if one takes an oath, saying: I will sleep, or: I will not sleep, the oath takes effect and he is liable to bring an offering if he fails to fulfill the terms of his oath. The Gemara asks: Is that so? But doesn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan say that in the case of one who says: On my oath I will not sleep for three days, the court flogs him immediately and he may sleep. Since it is impossible for one not to sleep for three days, his oath is regarded as an oath taken in vain from the outset. How could someone who took an oath never to sleep be liable to bring an offering for an oath on an utterance if he slept unwittingly?

The Gemara answers: There, Rabbi Yoḥanan is referring to a case where he said explicitly that he will not sleep for three days. Here, the mishna is referring to a case where he did not say three days, and his oath extends only for the amount of time it is possible not to sleep.

§ The mishna teaches that an example of an oath on an utterance is where one took an oath, saying: I will throw a stone into the sea, or: I will not throw it. It was stated: With regard to one who says: On my oath so-and-so threw a stone into the sea, or: On my oath he did not throw it, Rav says: If it was later discovered that what he said was false, he is liable to bring an offering for his oath. And Shmuel says: He is exempt.

The Gemara explains the opinions: Rav says that he is liable, as the oath can be positive or negative. The Sages derived from the verse: “Or if anyone take an oath clearly with his lips to do evil, or to do good” (Leviticus 5:4), that one is liable to bring an offering for an oath on an utterance only when the oath is such that it could be inverted from the positive to the negative and vice versa. Since he can take an oath either that he threw the stone or that he did not, he is liable. And Shmuel says he is exempt, because the oath cannot be stated with regard to the future; he cannot control what so-and-so will do in the future. Consequently, it is an oath taken in vain, rather than an oath on an utterance.

The Gemara asks: Shall we say that they disagree with regard to the issue that is the subject of the dispute between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva? As we learned in the mishna: Rabbi Yishmael says: One is liable only for an oath on an utterance taken about the future, as it is stated: “Or if anyone take an oath clearly with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall utter clearly with an oath” (Leviticus 5:4). Rabbi Akiva said to him: If so, and one is liable only for oaths explicitly mentioned in the verse, then I have derived only that one is liable for an oath on an utterance with regard to matters to which doing evil and doing good apply. From where do I derive that one is liable for an oath on an utterance with regard to matters to which doing evil and doing good do not apply?

Rabbi Yishmael said to him: The halakha in these cases is derived by amplification of the verse. Rabbi Akiva said to him: If the verse is amplified for this, i.e., to extend the halakha of an oath on an utterance to matters that do not involve doing evil or good, the verse is amplified for that, i.e., oaths about the past.

Say that Rav, who ruled that one who took an oath that so-and-so threw a stone into the sea is liable, states his opinion in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, that one can be liable for oaths about the past. And say that Shmuel states his opinion in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, that one is exempt from liability for taking an oath about the past.

The Gemara rejects this suggestion: Everyone agrees that according to the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael one is exempt from liability for taking an oath that so-and-so threw an item. Now, with regard to a statement, i.e., an oath, that could be a valid oath referring to the future, e.g., I will throw an item, Rabbi Yishmael does not deem one liable for it when it refers to the past. Is it necessary to say that one is not liable for a statement, i.e., an oath, that so-and-so threw a particular item, that cannot be a valid oath when adjusted to be referring to someone else’s actions in the future, since it is not under the oath taker’s control?

When they disagree, it is with regard to how to understand the halakha according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. The opinion of Rav is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva without any qualification of it. And Shmuel says: Rabbi Akiva deems one liable only there, in the case of an oath that refers to the past, when it is a statement, i.e., an oath, that could be a valid oath referring to the future; in such a case Rabbi Akiva deems one liable also if the oath was taken referring to the past, like an oath where one says: I threw a stone. But with regard to statements that cannot be valid oaths if adjusted to the future, like an oath about another’s action, he does not deem one liable when they are made about the past.

The Gemara suggests: Shall we say that the dispute

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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