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Chapter 67:1-3
The Laws Governing Vows and Oaths

1. One should not make vows [nedorim] frequently. Anyone who makes a vow is considered as if he built an altar in the high places outside Jerusalem at a time when the construction of such alters is forbidden. Should he fulfill the vow, it is considered as if he sacrificed an offering upon [the alter he built. This is equivalent to the violation of] the prohibition against sacrificing outside the Temple premises (Nedorim 22a). [Even though he was obligated to fulfill his vow,] it would have been preferable to seek to have the vow annulled [as explained in Law 8].

The above applies to vows of a general nature. However, it is a mitzvoh to fulfill vows made to consecrate an object to the Temple, as [Psalms 116:14] states: "My vows to G-d, I will fulfill" One should seek to absolve them only in times of emergency (Vayikro Rabboh 37:4).

2. Similarly, a person should avoid taking an oath [sh'vu'oh]. However, if he erred and did make an oath concerning a particular matter, he should not try to absolve it. Rather, he should maintain his oath even though it causes him difficulty [as implied by Psalms 15:4]: "One who swears to his own distress and does not alter it..." and the following verse continues: "Those who do these things shall never stumble." One should seek to absolve an oath only in times of emergency.

3. A person should take care not to make any vows. It is even preferable not to vow to give charity. Rather, if one possesses something to charity, he should give it immediately; if one does not possess the means at present, he should wait until he does, and then give without taking a vow.

If pledges are being made to charity and an individual also desires to make a pledge, he should specify that the pledge is being made without obligating himself with a vow [Bli Neder]. Similarly, in the Yizkor prayers, when one pledges to give money to charity, one should state that the pledge is being made without obligating oneself with a vow. In a time of emergency, one is permitted to vow.

   Vows and Oaths
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