The Day He Heard
‘One May Seek Revocation Of A Confimation’
The Torah limits a husband’s right to annul his wife’s neder (vow) to the day he hears about it (see Numbers 30:13). If upon hearing of his wife’s vow the husband expresses his approval, or remains silent until sundown, the vow is confirmed and can no longer be annulled by the husband.
The halacha (Rambam, Hilchos Nedarim 13:20) follows R. Yochanan who maintains that there is a method by which a husband can nullify his wife’s vow even after he confirmed it. If he regrets having confirmed the vow, he can appeal to a sage to revoke his approval and, just as a sage can annul a person’s vow based on “an excuse for retraction” (“petach ve’charata”), so too can he revoke one’s confirmation of someone else’s vow.
After a sage has revoked the confirmation, it is once again possible for the husband to exercise his right to annul the vow.
Late By One Day
The Ran (ad loc.) asserts that this halacha is relevant only if the husband appeals to a sage to revoke his approval on the day he heard about the neder (Numbers 30:13). However, if the husband heard of his wife’ vow and gave his approval on Sunday, for example, and on Monday he appealed to a sage to revoke his approval, he can no longer annul the vow since the one-day limitation given for nullification of vows expired by sundown on Sunday.
Inability To Annul
The Tur (Yoreh De’ah 234) disagrees. He maintains that even if the husband did not have his approval revoked by a sage until Monday, he can still annul his wife’s vow until the end of Monday. The Tur points out that the sages of the Mishnah (see Nedarim 87b) assert that the one-day limitation for nullification of a vow applies only if the husband is aware of his ability to annul the vow and he nevertheless remains silent. However, if an unlearned man hears about his wife’s neder on Sunday, but does not learn of his Biblically-given right to nullify the vow until Monday, then Monday is considered “the day he heard” and he has the right to nullify the vow all day Monday.
The Tur thus argues that in this case, too, where the husband was not able to annul the vow on Sunday because he had (implicitly) confirmed it, the one-day limitation does not go into effect until his confirmation is revoked by a sage. Therefore, the Tur rules he can annul the vow on Monday, after a sage revokes his confirmation.
In defense of the Ran, who evidently does not draw a comparison between the two cases, the Radbaz (to Rambam, Hilchos Nedarim 13:20) explains that in the case od the mishnah (87b), it was impossible for the unlearned husband to annul the vow on Sunday since he was unfamiliar with the laws of nullification of vows at that time. Thus, Sunday is not considered “the day he heard” and the one-day limitation does not begin until he is made aware of the laws of nullification.
In contrast, Sunday is still considered “the day he heard” for a husband who fails to exercise his right to nullify on Sunday. He had the option to appeal immediately to a sage on that day to annul his confirmation but didn’t. Therefore, the Ran asserts that if the husband allows Sunday to pass without trying to annul the vow, the one-day limitation expires and he can no longer annul the vow – even if a sage revokes his confirmation on Monday.