4 Tishrei 5765
Hataras Nedarim & Studying in the Sukkah
I’ve recently been feeling overwhelmed by the thought of Hataras Nedarim. I don’t mind the procedure of reading the standard text, but it makes me uncomfortable to know that I have to say what specifically I want to be matir.
As far as I know I haven’t actually taken anything on as a neder. But there are lots of things that I have done more than three times. For example I used to say Tehillim regularly, I also used to recite a list of Tehillim names, and I learn something at night, etc. These are things that I either don’t wish to continue, or do wish to continue but knowing that I don’t have to continue it because I’m doing it as a b’li neder.
Can I just say a general Hataras Nedarim without telling one of the Rabbis the specific things I want to be matir?
If the answer is that I do have to tell the Rabbi specifically and it ends up that it doesn’t work out that I get to tell him before the hatara, or if I don’t think to mention something etc, does the general hatara nullify it anyway?
In terms of things that I did years ago, and stopped years ago, (ie, saying Maariv friday night which I did when I was in camp,) do previous hataras that I have said cover them even though I wasn’t specific to the Rabbi?
Also can I make a general statement that from now on I don’t want anything I do to count as a neder even if I do it three times?
Thank you very much!
Thank you for your questions. You’ve brought up a number of issues, and I’ll try to answer them one by one. First of all, it’s important to realize that Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashana is a custom, not an obligation. Although men do so at the end of Shacharis on Erev Rosh Hashana, women never had such a custom to be Mattir Neder at this time, and there is no reason why anyone should start such a Minhag now. Some men have a Minhag to act as emissaries for their wives to be Mattir Neder, but this is not a Chiyuv at all. A father may not be an emissary for his daughter to be Matir her Nedarim on her behalf.
The Minhag is not to specify which vows one is being Mattir, but rather to state that you are requesting Hatarah for vows that you don’t know about, and for those that you do, but are too many to list, and so you request that the Dayanim be considerate of that fact and be Mattir them anyway. We do mention in the Nussach that we are only requesting Hatarah for Nedarim which according to Halacha we may be Mattir.
Previous Hataros will help for Nedarim made in previous years, of course. Otherwise- there wouldn’t be any point in doing one this year either! A Neder can not take affect involuntarily, therefore, if a person specifies that no matter what, no action that they do should be considered a Neder, even if done three times, it would not be considered a Neder at all, and no Hatarah is necessary. Preferably, this should be spoken out orally, and not just thought in your heart.
I just want to reiterate what I said in the beginning of my answer. There is no reason for a woman to be Mattir Neder on Erev Roshana in front of Dayanim, unless she has actually taken a specific Neder that she is aware of which should would like to be Mattir.
Take care, and Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rabbi Aaron Tendler
Are you allowed to go to someone who professionally shapes eyebrows or waxes on chol hamoed? As well, I heard that you shouldn’t do anything not kadosh in the sukkah. If you is supposed to spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, then if I have to study for university, should I be doing it in the sukkah or is it better not to? Is the halacha much less strict because I am a girl?
Thank you so much and a k’sivah v’chasimah tovah. Name & Seminary withheld.
Thank you for your question. Shaving is forbidden for both men and women on Chol HaMoed, and this includes eyebrow shaping and waxing, since this is something which can and should be done before Yom Tov. A girl does not have to do things in the Succah, but there is nothing wrong with studying in the Succah if you wish- as long as you aren’t studying things you shouldn’t be learning about in any case!
Rabbi Aaron Tendler