I'm curious if there exists the ability for a Jew to challenge themselves and their faith to Hashem by creating new obstacles which don't actually exist in Jewish law.

I was reading about the Nazarite's vow and how these individuals entered into a separate observance with their own set of additional rules to follow.

That made me wonder if a Jew could theoretically do the same thing but simply make up the challenge or rules each time. Say a Jew commits to Hashem that they will no long eat the flesh of an animal. Would that become a standard of their existence from that point forward (an extension of Kashrut) or would it really not be considered binding in the way other commitments are binding (Torah)

The only thought I had was it might possibly be a problem since you hear Catholics routinely "give up something" for lent. So it's possible that the practice could be seen as mirroring an idolatry.

I was curious what is known on the subject.

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    See: Nedarim (15 characters) – Salmononius2 Jan 24 at 1:15
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    Fascinating question. Is this not the exact definition of a "neder", though? – Josh K Jan 24 at 1:52
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    Jeremiah 35 has the story of the Rechabites, who never drank alcohol and lived only in tents, following the instructions of their ancestor. Not exactly a vow to HaShem, but He approved of their behavior. – Gary Jan 24 at 2:22
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    Yes, a Jew may take a vow (neder), thus challenging himself to keep extra obligations. However, in most cases, this is discouraged, as it is hard enough to keep all of the existing obligations. However, it is recommended and praiseworthy to make a voluntary commitment (kabbalah) without the force of a vow. This is particularly common and praiseworthy in the repentance months of Elul and Tishri. – shmu Jan 24 at 11:11
  • Please familiarize yourself with the Jewish idea of vows (Nedarim): sefaria.org.il/Mishnah_Nedarim.1?lang=bi – Al Berko Jan 24 at 21:48

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