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The mishna, N'darim 4:6, in my own, very loose translation:

Aaron asks Baruch, "Lend me your cow."

Baruch tells him, "It's not available."

Aaron says, "My field is forbidden to me like a sacrificial offering for plowing it with your cow."

If it's his practice to plow, himself, then he cannot plow his field [with Baruch's cow, since that was what he meant when he forbade it], but others can. But if it's not his practice to plow, then [he meant that even others can't use Baruch's cow, so] neither he nor anyone else can [plow it with Baruch's cow].

Most of the other cases until this point in N'darim are not so detailed with respect to the background of the case. I'd expect something more like:

Aaron says, "My field is forbidden to me like a sacrificial offering for plowing it with your cow."

If it's his practice to plow, himself, then he cannot plow his field [with Baruch's cow, since that was what he meant when he forbade it], but others can. But if it's not his practice to plow, then [he meant that even others can't use Baruch's cow, so] neither he nor anyone else can [plow it with Baruch's cow].

— i.e., missing the initial conversation about the attempted loan. For example, earlier in 4:6 is a case of someone who forbade himself his fellow's benefit (like here), but it doesn't say why. And the same is true in 4:5, 4:4, and numerous times in the preceding chapters. Why here does the mishna record a conversation of background information as to why Aaron forswore Baruch's benefit?

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The first line of Nedarim 4:6 states:

המודר הנאה מחבירו לא ישאילנו
Reuven who takes a vow to forbid benefit from Shimon shouldn't lend [items] to him

The Tiferet Yisrael's explains this to mean:

גזירה שמא ישאל ממנו
this is a decree to prevent Reuven from borrowing from Shimon

It seems the scenario subsequently detailed in the mishnah is a continuation of this first line and serves as an example as to why this gezairah was enacted.

  • I don't see how it serves as an example of why the g'zera was enacted – msh210 Jun 13 at 9:17
  • @msh210 it would seem to be playing out the scenario of what led to enacting the gezeira – alicht Jun 13 at 9:22
  • Tyt. אמר לו השאילני פרתך. לאו במודר ומדיר עסקינ – kouty Jul 12 at 18:08

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