Say that there's a guy named Reuven. Reuven swears never to bake bread on Tuesdays. Don't ask why, just go with it.

Reuven owns an inn. Several months later, some guys called up Reuven and asked if they could stop by his hotel some time during the following week, to which Reuven graciously agreed, even promising to bake them bread when they arrived.

Sure enough, they came on Tuesday.

Now, at the time of the second shevuah, it was possible that it would be unable to be fulfilled, but it was more likely than not that he would be able to fulfill it. Do we say that the shevuah still stands? If so, what does that mean for Reuven, who has to choose between his two oaths?

Assuming that the second oath remains in effect, does anything change if not fulfilling his second shevuah results in a loss of money (they'll slander him and cause a loss of customers)?

  • equivalent case of torn between two shevuos he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Jan 24, 2017 at 5:42
  • @DrM Shevua, not Neder. If it was a Neder, you could be Matir Neder and be done with it; I agree that that’s a valid reason to annul it. But there’s no such thing as Hataras Shevuos that we could apply it.
    – DonielF
    Dec 16, 2018 at 16:04
  • 1
    Fair enough, zarech iyon. I hope to see the Rav today, will probably include it in my list of questions, BL"N
    – DrM
    Dec 16, 2018 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


Mishna Nedarim 2, 2 - 3:

... [but in the case of] oaths, [the action is] permitted, because one cannot [swear an] oath to transgress a mitzvah of the Torah. // There are instances of a [valid] vow within a vow, but there are no [instances where an] oath within an oath [is valid].

Mishna Shevuot 3, 7:

An oath that [I will] not eat this loaf, an oath that [I will] not eat it, an oath that [I will] not eat it, and he ate, he is only liable once

See Gemara Nedarim 16b - 17a:

For it was taught: If one swears to annul a precept, and does not, I might think that he is liable, hence the Bible teaches, [or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips] to do evil, or to do good etc. : just as doing good refers to something optional, so doing evil refers [only] to something optional. This excludes one who swears to annul a precept, and did not annul it, because it is not optional! - One verse is to exempt him from the sacrifice due for [violating] an oath, and the other is to exempt him [from punishment for having violated] the injunction concerning an oath.

So we can deduct that if he made a first oath not to bake bread on Tuesday, and afterward to bake a bread on Tuesday. The second oath does exist but has no lav and no Korban because of the first oath. If he cancels the first oath, the duty toward the second oath would be started (the second oath will "find a space" according to the words of Gemara Shevuot 27b). In the case of the OP, I think that the second oath is not relevant regarding Lav and Korban for the case in which people came Tuesday. You are right that somewhat is present but potentially only (it has no "space"). (see Gemara Nedarim 18a, Shevuot 27b and Rambam Haflaa, Shevuot 6, 17 with explanations of Kesef Mishne and Radbaz)

In conclusion, Reuven cannot bake bread. If he can make a "sheela" to the Bet Din, to find a heter, very good, if not, he cannot bake. Someone else need to bake the bread. Loss of money is not relevant without hatarat shevuot, but for petach and charata this can perhaps count. As a Mishna with Rabbi Akiva (Nedarim 9, 5).

  • Is this your own sevara or one that you saw somewhere? Because I'm pretty sure if I make two shevuos not to eat grapes both are binding and I would have to bring two Karbanos Olah v'Yoreid if I violated it. I don't recall that piece of the Gemara that the second shevuah only takes effect halfway - can you cite it?
    – DonielF
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:32
  • @DonielF see Gemara Nedarim 18a שבועה שלא אוכל שבועה שלא אוכל ואכל אינו חייב אלא אחת: אמר רבא אם נשאל על הראשונה שניה חלה עליו ממאי מדלא קתני אינו אלא אחת וקתני אינו חייב אלא אחת רווחא הוא דלית לה כי מיתשיל על חבירתה חיילא לישנא אחרינא חיובא הוא דליכא הא שבועה איכא למאי הלכתא לכדרבא דאמר רבא נשאל על הראשונה עלתה לו שניה תחתיה I need to learn it a second time
    – kouty
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:46
  • @DonielF you are right I fixed my error
    – kouty
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:02
  • So you now lost your proof that the second shevuah is annulled legabei Tuesdays.
    – DonielF
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:04
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – kouty
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:12

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