Individual Postings 1st appeared(& were copied in html form) on the Email List Mail Jewish

From: rhendel@king.mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 19:51:32 -0400 Subject: Vow Freeing Ceremony for Customs [Anonymous, Vol 24 # 54] writes that she took a vow and for ten years wore a head covering. Although she had no problem observing the custom when she took the vow she recently ran into a situation where the vow caused disrespect. She inquired on the halachic implications of this dilemma. To the best of my knowledge (please correct me if anyone knows this is wrong) EVEN IF NO VOW was taken, if a person performs a custom for say three years (without explicitly stating BELI NEDER) then it is considered as if the person took a vow. In such a case the custom must be observed till the person goes thru a legal ceremony which requires a court to free the person from the vow. In this particular case there is no problem on freeing the vow: Freeing the vow requires a NEW AWARENESS. In this case anonymous is AWARE that her custom causes DISRESPECT NOW but did not do so (according to her own account) at the time she took the vow. Thus a NEW AWARENESS exists allowing the court to free her from her vow. It should be noted that a court is required. I would therefore advise anonymous to seek Rabbinical help and indicate this new AWARENESS Incidentally one of the most famous religious vows that was freed is that of Rabbi Akiba's father in law who vowed to disinherit his daughter for marrying an ignoramous. Several decades later the father came to Rabbi Akiba (without being aware that he was his daughter's husband) and said he regretted treating his daughter that way. When Rabbi Akiba asked him if he WOULD HAVE MADE the vow HAD HE KNOWN his son in law would be a great scholar the father in law said "of course not". Rabbi Akiba then revealed his identity and the two made up. I mention this story to deal with the PSYCHOLOGICAL problem of anonymous: Rabbi Akiba's father in law did not make a mistake when he took the vow... since he communicated thereby how important it was for his son in law to become a scholar! When the son in law became a scholar the need for the vow vanished and it could be annuled. In a similar manner the vow by anonymous to wear a hat made her aware of how important it was to be involved in symbolic affirmations of her religious identity...and it is clear from the posting (please reread it) that by enjoying a shabbos "<and I had a blast... one of the best shabbosses>" she fulfilled this very legitimate and strong need. Hence it is logical to assume that the original way of fulfilling this need (by wearing a hat is no longer needed). In passing I believe that the above simultaneous approach---<halachic--NEW AWARENESS-&-psychological>---perhaps gives more insight into the Vow laws. Russell Hendel,, Ph.d ASA rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu