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התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

https://opensiddur.org/?p=5238 התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi 2012-09-16 09:16:57 Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. Text the Open Siddur Project Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Zalman Schachter-Shalomi https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Rosh haShanah (l’Maaseh Bereshit) Repenting, Resetting, and Forgiveness Renewal beit din friends judgement vows ecoḥasid
Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur.

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Petitioner:

My friends,
I ask the three of you to serve as judges in the court
that is empowered to release one from vows.
Will you please serve for me in this capacity?

The judges:

Yes, we are prepared to hear you.

Petitioner:

What follows is not intended
to void promises I made to other people
from which only they can release me.

In the last year I have from time to time made vows,
sometimes speaking them out loud or had an intention,
a resolution to change something in my actions, behavior and attitude in my mind.
Some of these are in relation to myself, my body, my mind, and my soul.
Some of these deal with the way in which I conduct myself in relation to other people.
And most of all, there are those that deal with my relation to God.

Sometimes I took on a practice or a custom
and did it at least three times
and have since either willingly or unwillingly abandoned it
and I know that this, too, has the power of a vow.

Many times when I ask for prayers for some people
whether they are prayers for healing, for blessing
or for the repose of souls departed,
in which the formula includes,
“Because I shall contribute to tsedakah
and I may have forgotten to do that or not been aware,
I ask you to release me from that, too.

All these I regret
and I ask you to recognize my regret
and release me from all those vows.

The judges:

Hearing your regret, we release you.
All is forgiven,
all is released,
and may it be that
in the same way that we here below
release you from these vows and obligations,
so may you be released from the court above from the same.

Petitioner:

As I stand here
and I am aware of my fickle nature
in matters of vows, promises and resolutions,
I hereby declare that for the coming year,
should I again offer such vows, promises and resolutions,
they should have no effect
and not become binding on me.
At this moment I regret any of these
and do not wish them to be valid.

The judges:

We have heard your declaration
and consider it licit and legal.

May you be blessed with a good year,
inscribed in the book of life and sealed for good.

Reb Zalman’s Hatarat Nedarim in English first appeared at Reb Dovid Seidenberg’s neohasid.org. We are grateful to Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi for contributing his work with a CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. Reb Zalman was the first contributor of a copyrighted work, his Siddur Tehillat Hashem Yedaber Pi, with a free-culture license and with the help of the Open Siddur Project.

 

 

 

4 comments to התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

  • […] What is Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows? Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. Read More… […]

  • […] What is Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows? Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. More… […]

  • […] teacher Reb Zalman — Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi of blessed memory — wrote a script for releasing ourselves from our promises. The petitioner […]

  • A legal framework for creating a union must also provide for a legal framework to dissolve that union. The get is the bill of divorce halachicly required to end a marriage of kiddushin, presented by the husband to his wife.

    Chabad.org: This document … serves not only as a proof of the dissolution of the marriage in the event that one or both wish to remarry, it actually effects the divorce. … The get is written by an expert scribe acting as the husband’s agent. Each get is individually tailored to the particular divorcing couple. One of the most important rules governing the writing of the get is the requirement that it be written specifically for the husband and wife who will be using it. This precludes the use of form documents. Although technically the get can be written in any language — provided it contains the key words and phrases mandated by Jewish law — the universally accepted Jewish custom is to write it in Aramaic.The entire get procedure is performed in front of a beth din (rabbinical court consisting of three rabbis). Though technically only the presence of the husband, wife, and two witnesses is required to effect the divorce, practically, the get process is so complex that it cannot be done correctly unless done in the presence of experts in the field. In fact, rabbinic law automatically invalidates any get which was not written and transmitted in front of experts.

    ב_______ בשבת, ב _______ ימים לירח _______, שנת _______ לבריאת עולם למנין שאנו מנין כאן ב_______ מתא דיתבא על נהר _______ ועל מי מעינות, אנא _______ בן _______, העומד היום ב_______ מתא, דיתבא על נהר _______ ועל מי מעינות, צביתי ברעות נפשי בדלא אניסנא, ושבקית ופטרית ותרוכית יתיכי ליכי אנת אנתתי _______ בת _______ העומדת היום ב_______ מתא, דיתבא על נהר _______ ועל מי מעינות, דהוית אנתתי מן קדמת דנא וכדו פטרית ושבקית ותרוכית יתיכי ליכי דיתיהוייין רשאה ושלטאה בנפשיכי למהך להתנסבא לכל גבר דיתיצבייין, ואנש לא ימחא בידיכי מן יומא דנן ולעלם, והרי את מותרת לכל אדם, ודן די יהוי ליכי מנאי ספר תרוכין ואגרת שבוקין וגט פטורין כדת משה וישראל.
    ____________________עד
    ____________________עד
    On the __________ day of the week, the __________ day of the month of __________ in the year __________ after creation of the world, according to the calendaric calculations that we count here, in the city __________, which is situated on the __________ river, and situated near springs of water, I, __________ the son of __________, who today am present in the city __________, which is situated on the __________ river, and situated near springs of water, willingly consent, being under no duress, to release, discharge, and divorce you [to be] on your own, you, my wife __________, daughter of __________, who are today in the city of __________, which is situated on the __________ river, and situated near springs of water, who has hitherto been my wife. And now I do release, discharge, and divorce you [to be] on your own, so that you are permitted and have authority over yourself to go and marry any man you desire. No person may object against you from this day onward, and you are permitted to every man. This shall be for you from me a bill of dismissal, a letter of release, and a document of absolution, in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel.
    (Signature)____________________, witness
    (Signature)____________________, witness

    How, then, to dissolve a marriage not effectuated by kiddushin? Some legal mechanisms, like vows and oaths, have specific dissolution processes. Others like a brit have no traditional dissolution ceremony or protocol. Additionally, the get is problematic itself because it can only be issued by the husband, and if he refuses to give his wife a get, she will be unable to remarry, becoming an agunah, or chained woman. Various approaches have been considered to circumvent this issue, including clauses embedded in the ketuba and other prenuptial agreements, and some of the egalitarian marriage types addressed on this site were created in part for this reason.

    The procedure proposed by CJLS purports to cover any type of non-kiddushin bond, though it specifies the brit on which their marriage constructions are effectuated. (Whether it would dissolve one of the kiddushin marriage types listed here is unclear.) It is based on the get but is written in Hebrew rather than Aramaic.

    CJLS: Although the covenant indicates the couple’s commitment with the hope that their marriage will be permanent, Judaism has never assumed that every marriage will succeed. As such, we have created a document and ceremony for the formal dissolution (hafarah) of same-sex marriages based on the Covenant of Loving Partners. We have also composed a document to be signed prior to the wedding ceremony that will function as a pre-nuptial agreement in order to eliminate halakhic impediments to divorce should the marriage fail and the couple be unable to arrange for the ceremony of dissolution. [See T’nayim section] …[A] same-sex couple that has made a solemn and halakhically binding commitment to each other in a public ceremony such as the ones described should, if it proves untenable for them to stay together, have a proper dissolution of their union. The document of dissolution provided below for same-sex male and female marriages severs the agreement that was established in the Covenant and explicitly releases each partner from the bonds of the marriage, just as the traditional get includes a document of release. [This hafarah (dissolution) is applicable to dissolve the bonds of a same-sex marriage whatever documentary form it may have taken, for these bonds are in existence only by mutual agreement and may be unilaterally dissolved (which was not the case with kiddushin). Where the marriage contained a formal personal oath, the rabbi should convene a Bet Din to release the vow before completing the dissolution document.] In secular jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, a dissolution of the couple’s union in civil law must precede this ceremony.There is no need to replicate the procedures involving a scribe which the rabbis required for a get. Thus, the following documents may be filled in, printed, and signed. The signature (hatimah) is by the partner presenting the document; as indicated below. When both agree to participate in this proceeding, each should fill out the document and present it to the other. However, in cases where this is not the case, one partner may complete the dissolution document unilaterally. Witnesses to the signature of the principal are required, following the general requirements of witnesses under Jewish law. [Witnesses must be Jewish, not relatives of either party or of each other, and be known as members of their local Jewish community.] Three copies of each dissolution document should be signed with one original returned to each party, and one forwarded to the Rabbinical Assembly, as described below.Dissolution of the Covenant of Loving Partners

    בְּ_______ בְּשַׁבָּת, _______ לְחֹדֶשׁ _______, שְׁנַת חֲמֵשֶׁת אֲלָפִים וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וְ_______ לַמִּנְיָן שֶׁאָנוּ מוֹנִים כָּאן בְּ_______ בִּמְדִינַת _______ אֲנִי _______, הַמְּכוּנֶה/הַמְּכוּנָה _______, עָמַדְתִּי בְּרָצוֹן חָפְשִׁי, בְּלֹא אוֹנֶס וּבְלֹא דוֹחַק, וּפְטַרְתִּיךָ, _______ הַמְּכוּנֶה ____, שֶׁהָיִיתָ רֵעִי / וּפְטַרְתִּיךְ, _______ הַמְּכוּנָה _______, שֶׁהָיִיתְ רַעיָתִי עָד עַתָּה, מִן הַבְּרִית שֶׁהִתְקַיְּמָה בֵּינֵינוּ. הֲרֵי רְשׁוּת בְּיָדְךָ/בְּיָדֵךְ לִכְרוֹת בְּרִית אֲהוּבִים אַחֶרֶת כִּרְצוֹנֵךָ/כִּרְצוֹנֵךְ. וְזֶה יִהְיֶה לְךָ/לָךְ לְאוֹת הֲפָרַת הַבְּרִית שֶׁהִתְקַיְּמָה בֵּינֵינוּ לְשֶׁעָבַר בְּעֵינַיִךָ/בְּעֵינַיִךְ וּבְעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם.
    ____________________ חתימה
    ____________________ עד/ה
    ____________________ עד/ה

    On the __________ day of the week, the __________ day of the month of __________ in the year five thousand seven hundred __________, corresponding to the secular date of __________, here in __________ in the country of __________, I, __________ the son/daughter of __________, arose of my own free will, without coercion or pressure, and have released you, __________ the son/daughter of __________, who had been my loving partner until now, from the covenant that had been between us. You are hereby permitted to establish any other such covenant that you desire. This shall be the formal dissolution of the covenant that had existed between us in your eyes, and in the eyes of God and all people.
    (Signature)____________________, witness
    (Signature)____________________, witness

    Ideally, where the separation is mutually agreed, each member of the partnership will fill out a dissolution form and deliver it personally to his or her partner. Where the partners exchange dissolution documents mutually, each should say (in Hebrew or English or any other language that is common to them):

    הִתְקַבֵּל/הִתְקַבְּלִי הֲפָרָה זוֹ. וְזֶה יִהְיֶה לְאוֹת הֲפָרַת הַבְּרִית שֶׁהִתְקַיְּמָה בֵּינֵינוּ לְשֶׁעָבַר בְּעֵינַיִךָ/בְּעֵינַיִךְ וּבְעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם.
    Here is the document of dissolution. This shall be the formal dissolution of the covenant that had existed between us in your eyes, and in the eyes of God and all people.

    The person giving the document shall then place it in the hands of his/her partner. Where mutual hafarot are contemplated, each should present the hafarah they have prepared to the other. Where no exchange is contemplated, a copy should be sent to the absent partner. While no rabbinic presence is necessary to effectuate this dissolution, the separating partners may wish to do so before their rabbi. In that case, the rabbi might serve as one of the witnesses to the hafarah and issue each of them, as well, a letter attesting to the performance of the ritual in his or her presence.

    Dissolving a marriage effectuated by a vow or oath would seem to require the ritual of hatarat nedarim. How this performance of that process would be different from the one performed before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur each year, and how a vow of marriage would not be annulled by ordinary performance of this ritual requires further investigation.

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