In this week's parsha (Bereishit 31:32), Yaakov says that whoever stole Lavan's idols will not live, not knowing that Rachel had taken them.

The question is, was this said as a curse or a neder (vow)? Because if it was a neder, he could have had it annulled, with the easy out of "i didn't know it was my favorite wife". And if it was a neder, why didn't he have it annulled?

  • There are specific words that are typically used in a vow, which aren't present here. I've always viewed the verse as a curse, but I don't have any sources to back that up.
    – Jake
    Nov 25, 2014 at 11:28
  • Had he meant nedder, what would he be saying? That he would kill the thief? Sounds extreme. Especially if he believed they had the din of yisroel and not ben noach, which yosef and the brothers were arguing about according to some opinions. In fact had he meant to kill the offender,this should have proven yosef right, that they had din of Ben noach.
    – user6591
    Nov 25, 2014 at 21:09
  • @Jake It could be a Shevua
    – Double AA
    Nov 26, 2014 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Rashi to the cited verse:

לא יחיה: ומאותה קללה מתה רחל בדרך

Shall not live: and from that curse Rachel died on the road.

So it seems that it was a curse.

  • Theoretically, wouldn't it be possible for him to have meant it as a nedder but still have the power of a curse?
    – user6591
    Nov 25, 2014 at 21:06

Update: Rabbi Munk in Kol Hatorah on Parshas Vaychi 47:28 adds to the other meforshim of the the "missing" 33 years. There are meforshim that say that he would have lived to 180 (like Yitzchak) but "lost" them because of the 33 words in Vayigash 47:8-9. Rabbi Munk adds that this was the backlash of the curse when Yaakov said "לא יחיה" which caused him to not have יחיה years (33 in gematriah) that he would otherwise have had.

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