Monday, September 25, 2006

Hataras Nedarim

Steg asks why the formula for hataras nedarim calls the judges "dayyanim mumchim", expert judges, if even hedyotos are eligible to serve as judges for this type of court action (In a comment there, I noted that a beis din of three judges would by definition *not* be one of mumchim, as a mumcheh can be mattir a neder on his own (this technique is also referred to as she'eilas chacham)).

On the topic of hataras nedarim, I'd like to make mention of a couple of other issues. Firstly, does the hatarah work if one does not understanding the Hebrew words that one is saying? Being that this is a court action and not a ritual, I would think that it would be more important for a person to know what they are saying, rather than stumbling over Hebrew words that they are unfamiliar with, as is also the halacha for bittul chameitz (Kol chamira).

Secondly, how does it work for twenty people to be reciting the formula for hataras nedarim all at the same time? Shouldn't the judges be able to hear what each person is saying?

Granted, the whole issue of being matir a neder without specifying the neder being hutar is sort of strange, especially in light of that there's not even an attempt to find a loophole (petach) through which the neder can be undone (unless this latter is only a din by the hatarah done by a single mumcheh), but if we're taking the effort to engage in a pseudolegal ritual, it would seem like we should make the effort to do things as realistically as possible.

Last year I forgot to do my hataras nedarim until 5 minutes before Kol Nidrei, so walked over to three guys sitting in shul, convened a beis din, summarized the long introductory paragraph in 30 seconds (making sure that I hit every important detail), and went with that. I don't see any possible issue with doing it this way.

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