Is an oath (neder or shevua) valid if made while drunk? What if a person had a bad experience while under the influence of alcohol and while drunk swore never to drink again, but after becoming sober regretted the oath? What are the relevant sources useful in evaluating this subject?

  • 1
    cf. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/57516/4940
    – magicker72
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 16:37
  • The question is slightly different because the Ramban on Vayikra 12:7 says that the woman is already bound by a commitment to her husband which abrogates the oath hypothetically made during childbirth. This doesn't apply here.
    – Ovadyah
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 16:39
  • Can't this type of scenario be considered a non-communal type oath (said one thing but meant another or didn't mean to at all) as outlined in SA (YD 210)?
    – Oliver
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:08
  • Great connection! But in this case at the time of the oath the person meant exactly what they said, but they were in an unstable mental state. I'm not sure if that's what the S.A. is talking about here.
    – Ovadyah
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:13
  • @Ovadyah So there’s a machlokes between the Gemara and the Ramban. Wouldn’t be the first time. (Why he could do that isn’t for now.) According to the Gemara, though, that should answer your question: the oath is considered a false oath which must then be atoned for.
    – DonielF
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


According to Tosefta Terumot 3:1, a drunk person is liable for their vows.

מפני מה אמרו אלם לא יתרום מפני שאין יכול לברך מפני מה אמרו סומא לא יתרום מפני שאין יכול לבור את היפה מן הרע מפני מה אמרו שיכור לא יתרום מפני שאין בו דעת אע"פ שאמרו שיכור מקחו מקח וממכרו ממכר מתנתו מתנה ונדרו נדר הקדשו הקדש עבר עבירה שחייב עליה [חטאת] מחייבין אותו סקילה [מחייבין אותו] כללו של דבר שיכור הרי הוא כפקח לכל [דבר] מפני מה אמרו בעל קרי לא יתרום מפני שאינו יכול לברך מפני מה אמרו ערום לא יתרום מפני שאינו יכול לברך אבל מכסה את עצמו בתבן ובקש ובכל דבר ומברך.

... for a drunk person: their sale is valid; their gift is valid; their vow is valid; their renunciation of ownership is valid; if they violate something that requires a chatat, they must bring it; if they violate something that brings stoning, we impose it. The rule is: a drunk person is like a sober person for all matters. ...

(text from Sefaria, translation is mine)

Another version of this tosefta is quoted in bEruvin 65a: it leaves out the sections regarding vows, gifts, and renunciation of ownership, and adds "except that they are exempt from prayer" to the end.

This gemara is quoted in Shulḥan Arukh Ḥ"M 235:22 and Mishne Tora, Laws of Sales 29:18, with the caveat that if the drunk person is "as drunk as Lot", then they are not responsible for anything (this is from the same gemara, just below).

More on point (since the sources in the previous paragraph don't deal with the vows part of the tosefta above): Mishna Nazir 2:3 talks about a drunk woman who made a vow, which the Sages sought to restrict in scope (but not ignore entirely). The gemara at bNazir 11a understands this as being a general phenomonon, and understands the vow of a drunk person to be binding. This is quoted in Mishne Tora, Laws of Nazir 1:11-12, with the same caveat as in the previous paragraph.

  • 1
    Amazing! Thank you so much for these sources.
    – Ovadyah
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:43

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