For instance, say that I text someone "I promise I'll do X." Does that have the same status as if I said out loud the same thing?

The same question can be asked with respect to Shevuos (as in oaths, not the holiday). If someone says "Swear to me that X happened," for instance, and you text him "Amen" (this exchange is cited in the third perek of Maseches Shevuos as being a form of an oath), do I have to bring an Oleh v'Yoreid if it's false and meets the various criteria brought down in Shevuos?

One other possible nafka minah: one could ask regarding Hein Tzedek (BM 49a), the obligation to keep one's word, even if not phrased in terms of a neder.


Just to clear things up before anyone brings it up.

This question is not applicable to Lashon Hara, which just requires spreading the rumor, regardless of how it's done. At the moment I don't have the source for this claim, though I have heard it many times from my Rebbeim; if someone could provide a source, that would be great. I could make a chiluk between this and the above cases, though, where the issue is the speech, not the bad name.

This question is also dissimilar to halachos such as Virtual Kaddish or Answering Amein on the phone or even Havdalah on the phone in which the question is on the listener. My question is whether the texter has fulfilled any form of speech.

Also related, as this is about texting or emailing, this is not similar to התראה by phone which involves actual speech.

I'm also aware of this question about chat contracts, which is more of an issue of the legal status of the contract, not about whether it's a type of speech.

Finally, there is also this question about Hamapil which is highly related and I know someone's going to call duplicate. So I'd like to emphasize that my question is much, much broader. Maybe, for instance, that, which is only a d'Rabbanan, might be permissible, whereas by Nedarim, which is d'Oraisa, may require us to be stringent and force him to abide by his vow.

In conclusion

Is texting, essentially a written form of spoken conversation that hardly ever follows proper grammar (or spelling) considered speaking across Halacha, or in limited circumstance, or nowhere at all?

As a springboard, this discussion about whether digital text is considered written text l'halacha may be relevant.

  • How do you know that Nedarim/Shevuot need speech specifically?
    – Double AA
    Sep 19, 2016 at 2:33
  • 2
    Why would texting be considered speech? It's much more parallel, if not the exact same, as writing (which is something Halakha has been familiar with for a lot longer)?
    – Double AA
    Sep 19, 2016 at 2:35
  • A good review of questions. Haflaa is the genuine expression differentiating thinking from speaking for nedarim and Shevuot. You need to learn what is haflaa in Talmud.
    – kouty
    Sep 19, 2016 at 6:54
  • There is a Tshuvat Havat Yair and a number of shutim concerning neder by writing
    – kouty
    Sep 19, 2016 at 7:55
  • @DoubleAA For that I rely on the post about Hamapil, that texting is a written form of speech. That is, I don't think anyone on here would be willing to take random comments and put them word for word in a college formal writing essay and assume it fits the proper grammar required by the assignment, but in terms of normal spoken conversation it would fit quite nicely. And although I haven't learned Nedarim or Nazir, I have learned Shevuos, which doesn't make a single reference to a written Shevuah, leading me to assume that such a Shevuah is nothing.
    – DonielF
    Sep 19, 2016 at 11:57

1 Answer 1


IMHO, it is not the same thing for a promise bein adam lachaveiro and an oath say, not to eat bread today for example.

Because in the latter, it is explicitly written לבטא בשפתים . Not only you have to pronounce, but with the lips! And also about an engagement to bring a qorban: מוצא שפתיך . See Shevuos 26b in this direction.

Now, about hein zedeq, it is more difficult.

In other words:

  • Does texting count as speaking with lips? No.

  • Does hein zedeq require 'speaking' or just 'informing' the other?

See also the notion of מתנה מועטת, where the idea is, the guy counted on you giving this little thing. (But maybe, he counted on you because you said it.)

  • Interesting thoughts. Thanks! I’ve heard of the concept of מתנה מועטת before, but haven’t delved into it - where is that sugya discusses?
    – DonielF
    Nov 19, 2018 at 23:29
  • @DonielF Bava Metsia 49a. And from the story there with R Yochanan ben Matia and his employees, seems that there is no need to pronounce.
    – yO_
    Nov 20, 2018 at 8:47

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