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Is it better not to make a vow than to not fulfill it?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus


Library » Miscellaneous » Vows | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The Torah (Deuteronomy 23:22) says that if you make a vow and fail to keep it—that’s a sin. The next verse says: “If you don’t make any vows to begin with, you will have no sin.”

Nachmanides, a 13th century biblical commentator, comments: “It is better not to vow than to vow and fail to fulfill your promise.” So there you go.

TAGS: vow, oath, vows, oaths


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A Promise or Vow Unfulfilled is Sin

Posted by: Brian, Blyth, Northumberland, England on Jan 11, 2005


1. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter a word before G-d; for G-d is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. 2. For a dream cometh through a multitude of business; and a fool's voice through a multitude of words. 3. When thou vowest a vow unto G-d, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou vowest. 4. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 5. Suffer not thy mouth to bring thy flesh into guilt, neither say thou before the messenger, that it was an error; wherefore should G-d be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?


Status of lyrics such as "I vow" / "I swear" in songs

Posted by: Joseph Sanderson, UK on Nov 10, 2006

In many songs (eg the British patriotic song "I vow to thee my country") there are lyrics such as "I vow" or "I swear". If one sings such a song, does the vow need to be annulled? (and does Kol Nidrei suffice for this, or is a seperate beit din needed?)

Editor's Comment

Such is not considered a vow, since no intent was involved. However, one should be careful not to vow/swear loosely. When one uses a language that might connote an oath, the popular custom is to say "B'li Neder" ("Without an oath").
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.