What is if someone took a neder on himself, and said eg. "i will not eat potatos anymore," but his intention was only for a certain Kind of potatos. Are now all potatos forbidden to him (as the person said) or only that certain kind of potatos (as he intended while saying "potatos")?

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    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 15:53
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    This case is not necessarily so cut and dried (see comments on the answer below). Please CYLOR for a practical halachic ruling.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:55
  • Also please specify what you mean by "kind of potatoes." What kind of potatoes did you mean to include in, or exclude from, the vow?
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:57
  • @Fred Wikipedia claims that there are over 4000 types of potatoes.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 7:42

2 Answers 2


The Shulchan Arukh in the laws of Nedarim (YD 210:1) rules that if one intended to prohibit wheat bread to himself as a Neder but only said "bread" unmodified, only wheat bread is prohibited to him. (The Shakh there rules this is only so if the omission of the type of bread was an accident, and one cannot rely on this rule Lechatchila.)

Your case ("i will not eat potatos anymore") is a Shevua (an obligation on the speaker, not a prohibition on the item), and the Shulchan Arukh in the laws of Shevuot (YD 239:1) rules that Shevuot have the same rules as Nedarim in this regard.

So in your case (assuming it was an accidental omission) only the specific kind of potato would be prohibited.

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    Per the rationale of the Shach you cited (210:2), this may only work in the case of wheat bread or barley bread since those are the most typical types of bread that people mean when they say "bread." It is therefore reasonable to expect that someone may have specifically meant "wheat bread" or "barley bread" when they said "bread" (see Shulchan 'Aruch YD 217:10). I'm not at all sure the circumstances with potatoes are analogous nowadays.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 21:19
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    In fact, I'm not even sure it would work on barley bread nowadays; see Ba'eir Heiteiv YD 217:6, who cites the Maharshal that it depends on common contemporary usage. I'm not sure that barley bread is "stam" bread anymore.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 21:24
  • @Fred I just assumed that whatever "kind" of potato the OP meant was indeed included in "potatos". What kind of potato do you think wouldn't be included in "potatos"? Perhaps a sweet potato? I think Lashon Benei Adam nowadays includes that (even though they are quite different botanically).
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:44
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    When people say "potato," they usually have in mind a category that may include a wide variety of potato cultivars. I was thinking along the lines of someone who made an oath about "potatoes" but only meant to prohibit Russet potatoes. I suspect that Yukon Gold potatoes and Désirée potatoes, for example, would still be prohibited to him. Although Ipomoea roots are commonly referred to as "sweet potatoes," I don't think people typically mean to include that in the category of potato when they speak, so I'd suppose that there would be no problem there.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:02
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    The beis Yosef definitely argues with the shach that you brought ואין לפרש והוציא פת סתם כגון שיודע שפת חטין אמר ומתכוין שלא להוציא פת חטין בשפתים אלא לחשוב בלבו דא"כ תחול על פת סתם דדברים שבלב אינם דברים עכ"ל. ואינו נראה כן מפשטא דגמרא. He clearly says that the reason for pas stam that refers to wheat is when there is an overwhelming majority of people that know exactly what you mean which is not the case with potatoes see my answer below and don't cover the truth.
    – user15464
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 0:44

The answer to your question is that if you are an am haaretz (which would include anyone who doesn't know the halachos of nedarim), then we don't care that you meant a specific type of potato in your mind and you are assur to every potato since there are so many different types (at least 7: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite), we say that you are assur to **all potatoes**.

Shulchan oruch Yore dea 208,2:קונם אשתי נהנית לי ואמר לא נדרתי אלא מאשתי הראשונה שגרשתי אם הוא תלמיד חכם נאמן ואינו צריך התרה ואם הוא עם הארץ צריך שאלה שלא ינהגו קלות ראש בנדרים - if someone says "A vow that my wife can't have benefit from me," and then he explains that he meant his first wife that had been previously married to me, If he is a Talmud chochom he is believed and doesn't need a hatoro (nullification from 3 people), but if he is a worldly man he needs nullification so that he doen't act irresponsibly with nedarim.

The exception is when he says "bread" where everyone knows that he meant only bread made of wheat flour since this is what type of bread that the vast majority of people refer to as bread stam without explanation. see S.A Y.D 210,1.היה בלבו לידור מפת חטים והוציא בשפתיו פת שעורים מותר בשניהם אבל אם היה בלבו פת חטים הוציא בשפתיו פת סתם אסור בשל חטים לבד

And the beis Yosef explains in the name of the Rashba The reason is wheat flour bread is the type of bread that the vast majority of people refer to as bread stam and not barley bread - ונראה דדוקא בגמר בלבו להוציא פת חטין והוציא פת סתם הוא דאמרינן שלא מיתסר אלא בפת חטין משום דסתם פת דחטין הוה אבל גמר בלבו להוציא פת שעורין והוציא פת סתם לא אמרינן דלא מיתסר אלא בפת שעורין דהא סתם פת לאו דשעורין הוא

Even the Rema who says if you think of barley bread and say bread stam, the neder/ shavua works, he comments in the Darkei Moshe 210,1 מבואר דפת שעורין נמי פת סתם מקרי ודינו כשל חטים - this is Because barley bread is also commonly referred to as "bread" stam so that's why it has the same halacha as wheat bread.

A random breed of potato according to Shulchan aruch and rema is not the standard potato as There are more than 200 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States. Each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato type categories: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. There are so many different types of potatoes that people use, one cannot divine the species intended by the Noder, unlike bread, where in general one would either be referring to only wheat or barley. Therefore you would be prohibited on all potatoes!

at least you'll loose a few pounds..

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