Nedarim 2 - 8
- The order of the first mishna in comparison with other mishnayot
- Definition of a kinuy and a yad and their source
- Violation or delay of fulfilling a neder commitment
- The nazir who makes only a partial commitment
- The language required for making someone's property forbidden to the neder maker and vice versa
- A subtle yad in regard to neder, marriage and divorce, korban, pe'ah, tzedakah and hefker
- The difference of opinion regarding the term menudah used in making a neder
- The seriousness of mentioning the name of G-d in vain
- Poverty equivalent to death
- Torah scholar releasing himself for self-imposed excommunication
- Taking an oath to fulfill a mitzvah
- What to do if one dreams of being excommunicated
Poverty and Death
- Nedarim 7b
"Poverty is equivalent to death."
As the source for this equation the Sage Rav cites the Torah passage (Shmot 4:19) in which G-d assures Moshe that he need not fear returning to Egypt because of his enemies who were responsible for his forced flight from there.
"For all the men are dead who sought your life," he was told, a reference to Datan and Aviram, two Jews who had informed Pharaoh that Moshe had slain an Egyptian who was mercilessly beating a Jew, causing Moshe to flee for his life.
But did these two wicked men really die?
In the much later rebellion of Korach against Moshe they are mentioned as accomplices (Bamidbar 16:1), so the description of them as "dead" cannot be taken literally. There are, however, several possibilities for applying this term. A blind person, a metzora and a childless one are also considered dead in a certain sense. Rabbeinu Nissim (RaN), in his commentary, rules out the option that Moshe's enemies were powerless to harm him because of their blindness since Datan and Aviram expressed their defiance of Moshe in the above-mentioned rebellion by declaring that (ibid. 16:14) "even if you blind us we shall not come to meet with you."
The other option that they were metzoraim is also eliminated because a metzora is isolated from the community and the Torah reports (Devarim 11:16) that they were swallowed up by the earth as punishment for their rebellion "in the midst of all of Israel."
Childlessness could also not be considered as the equivalent of death in this case because their lack of offspring would not affect their evil influence with the king. The only remaining possibility is that Datan and Aviram had become impoverished and thus lost their clout.
This is the proof that poverty is equated with death.
What the Sages Say
"Just as it is impossible to have wheat without chaff, so to it is impossible for a dream to not contain some meaningless elements."
- Rabbi Acha - (Nedarim 8a)