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Annulment of Vows

It is explained in the Talmud and in Halachic works that the absolution, annulment or invalidation of vows or oaths applies only to those which one has imposed upon oneself, as for example, "I will eat" or "I will not eat"; "I will sleep" or "I will not sleep," and the like. But for that which one vows or swears to his fellow or if someone places him under oath, regardless of that person's nationality or religion, no annulment, invalidation, or absolution is ever possible.

On Erev Rosh HaShanah, before midday, preferably in the presence of a quorum of ten, [the following is said]:

Listen my masters, expert judges!

Any vow, oath or prohibition, even a prohibition to derive benefit, which I have imposed upon myself or upon others, by any expression of prohibition, or any utterance that has issued from my mouth, or that I vowed and resolved in my heart even to perform a certain mitzvah, or any good practice which I did three times but did not expressly state that it shall be without the force of a vow - whether it is a commitment which I made concerning myself or with regard to others, both those which are known to me or which have already been forgotten by me - all these, I regret them [in retrospect] from the moment I made them, and I request and ask nullification for them. I do not, G-d forbid, rue the performance of good deeds which I have done, but I regret that I did not explicitly state, "I will do this thing without assuming the obligation of a vow, oath or commitment in thought."

 

Therefore, I ask of your honors annulment; I regret all of them, all the aforementioned - whether they were matters concerning the physical, the spiritual or the financial.

Now, according to the law, one who regrets [his vows, etc.] and seeks annulment, must state the particulars of the vow; know, however, my masters, that they are many and it is impossible to specify them - and I do not request nullification for those vows which cannot be annulled - therefore, consider them as if I had specified them.

Those who annul respond three times with the following words:

They shall all be annulled for you, all absolved for you, all permitted to you. There is neither vow, nor oath, nor prohibition, nor assent nor commitment in thought; but there is forgiveness, pardon and atonement. Just as we grant annulment in the court here below so shall they be annulled in the Heavenly Court.

Then the petitioner makes a public statement before them, saying:

I hereby declare publicly before you that I nullify from now on all the vows, all the oaths, prohibitions, assents and commitments in thought which I will take upon myself, except the vows to fast which are made at the Minchah prayer [of the preceding day. And if I should forget the stipulations of this declaration and make any further vows henceforth, from now I regret them and declare that they are all null and void, they have no force or effect, and they shall not be binding at all. I regret them all, from now and for all time.

Those who annul respond, saying:

They shall all be annulled for you, they shall all be absolved for you, they shall all be permitted to you. There is neither proscription, nor ban nor malediction; but there is forgiveness, pardon and atonement. Just as you are released by the court here below, so shall you be released by the Heavenly Court, and it shall make no impression at all. And all the curses shall turn to blessings, as it is written: And the L-rd your G-d turned the curse into a blessing for you, for the L-rd your G-d loves you.

 

 


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