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Shalom,

I just finished reading a wonderful work by a Samson Raphael Hirsh, called "A Philosophy of Jewish Law and Custom." It is two volumes. He conveniently separates the Jewish mitzvot into six categories. One of those categories contain all those mitzvot that pertain only to the Jews. Another of those categories contain all the mitzvot that cannot be deduced by the average upright person from logic alone. Reading this was very helpful to me.

But I have further questions: When I was 14 years old, I agreed to take certain obligations upon myself by taking a vow (which was made improperly). Among these obligations were: not eating meat from non-kosher animals, honoring parents, taking care of my health (which I am obligated in anyway), separating out a tithe of my income, taking a wife and fathering children, and "keeping" the Sabbath (although not in the manner of the Jews, just by not working for money or talking business.) There may have been other obligations which I do not recall right now. In the light of what Director Michael has written to PlasticMan, for me to take at least some of these "duties" upon myself was wrong. But what now? Admitting it was wrong, now what? Am I obligated or not? Forget that it was vowed improperly; what if someone had taken obligations upon himself in the Name of Hashem - although it would be a mistake, would he be obligated?
Regarding the promises you already made which you might have become obligated to keep as formal vows:
You should consult personally with a reliable Orthodox Rabbi about your questions on the specific promises you made, and which ones you held to for a period of time, and about which ones, if any, might need formal nullification - using as a reference the section on those topics in our book "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem," by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.

Perhaps Rabbi Yitz will have something to add regarding your general questions.
Director Michael Wrote:Regarding the promises you already made which you might have become obligated to keep as formal vows:
You should consult personally with a reliable Orthodox Rabbi about your questions on the specific promises you made, and which ones you held to for a period of time, and about which ones, if any, might need formal nullification - using as a reference the section on those topics in our book "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem," by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.

Perhaps Rabbi Yitz will have something to add regarding your general questions.

There are several Talmudic Tractates which deal with the Laws of Oaths and Vows. One of the principles of these laws is that there are vows or oaths which never went into effect as they were made improperly and there are vows and oaths which can be annulled for various reasons. If a person was not fully aware of the ramifications of the vow or oath when he/she made it, or if they had know certain facts before they made the vow or oath which would have caused them not to make the oath or vow or makes them regret making the vow, it can be nulified. A classic example is the story in Tanach of Yiftach the Giladite. He vowed that if Hashem granted him victory in the war then when he returned home he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his door to Hashem. He won the war and came home and the first thing that came out of his door was his daughter. Obviously he could not sacrifice her to Hashem, but yet he made the vow. He should have gone to the High Priest of his time who happened to be Pinchos the son of Elazar the son of Aharon (Moses's brother) to get the vow annulled, but he felt it was beneath his dignity and that Pinchos should come to him, Pinchos felt that since it was Yiftach's problem he should come to him. The end of the story is that Yiftach's daughter went to live as a hermit and never got married, and both Pinchos and Yiftach were punished by the heavenly court. The grounds to annul the vow were very simple, had Yiftach known that his daughter would be the first to walk out the door, he never would have made the vow, and also had Yiftach realized that such a vow was frivolous because perhaps an animal which was unfit for sacrifice might walk out of his door and he could not keep such a vow and thus would never make such a vow.
Quote:1) what if a non-Jew breaks a vow (not intentionally, but by forgetting he made it), what are the basic consequences? Is the vow still in effect? Can he correct this by reaffirming and rigorously keeping it?

This really depends on the details of the vow. Some types of vows are invalid from the outset, in which case there is no obligation to keep them. If one regrets having made a vow, it MAY be possible to have the vow annulled, again depending on the details of the situation. The Torah-based rules for non-Jews in regard to their vows and promises, and the possibility and procedure for annulment of their vows and promises, are included as two chapters in our new book, "The Divine Code," Vol. I: https://asknoah.org/books/the-divine-code

Quote:2) May a non-Jew wear a prayer shawl -any basic shawl- for his prayers?

This depends on whether you are asking about a Jewish prayer shawl ("tallis") with ritual "tzitzit" fringes (which a non-Jew should not wear), or about a shawl without tzitzit fringes, which a non-Jew may wear at any time. Please see our forum threads on this subject:

"Wearing a tallis?"
https://www.asknoah.org/forums/showthread.php?tid=15

"Noahide prayer shawl?"
https://www.asknoah.org/forums/showthread.php?tid=193
I'm a little confused about the vows and oaths. Does one have to say something like, " I promise to...; I vow to..." in order for it to be a vow or oath? If one says he'll do something, but doesn't say that he/she promises or vows or swears, but ends up not doing it, is that breaking a vow? For example, if someone says that he'll be home at or before 7:00, without saying "promise" or anything similar, but comes home at 7:10, is that breaking a vow or oath?
There is a chapter on "Laws of Vows and Promises" for Gentiles in the book "The Divine Code," Volume 1, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.

If someone says that he vows or swears that he will do something, then he has made a vow. In that case, he is obligated to keep his word.

For Gentiles, there is no specific Divine commandment to fulfill a vow, nor is there a Divine commandment not to transgress a vow. However, fulfilling a vow is obligatory according to human intelligence. (Certainly one should not deliberately lie that he will do something, unless he is in a desperate situation and he needs to save himself or someone else from harm.) The obligation is especially strict if the person vows or swears in a name of G-d, or if he pledges to give a donation to a proper charity.

If he only said that he would do something, or he promised but not in G-d's name and not as an oath, the obligation is not as serious as a vow. However, one should make it a habit when he says he'll do something, and even if he promises, to say that it is "without a vow" ("b'li neder" in Hebrew).

If you told someone you would do something and you don't fulfill it, through your own neglect or unforseen circumstances, you should apologize to the person and ask to be forgiven. If it was your own fault, you should also repent and ask for forgiveness from G-d.
If someone wishes to make a promise or oath before G-d to begin working on a certain character trait, what would be the proper way to do this? For example, if someone wanted to be more diligent in their work day, and felt they would be more apt to focus on this character attribute if they made a promise/oath to G-d in this regard covering a set amount of time, what would be the proper way to make this promise? I have read the chapter related to this in the Divine Code Volume I, but I am not sure I completely understand when making such an oath or promise is acceptable, or how to go about stating the promise in a way that is acceptable.

thanks!
I forwarded this question to Rabbi Moshe Wiener, author of "The Divine Code." Here is the answer he sent back [the bracketed information is added for extra explanation]:

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If you think that an oath is necessary, then you may vow by saying verbally, "I take upon myself this and this," while having in mind that this verbal statement is a vow.

Still, [because a vow is such a severe matter,] it is best to instead say verbally, "I promise to do so and so without clearly making a vow in this regard."

In the first case, you are comitted [before G-d] to keep your word, but in the second case [which is preferred], if a difficult situation may arise, you are exempt from keeping your vow [in that situation, which might be unforseen].
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Director Michael
Quote:Can vows be annulled over the Internet? These are the vows I made:
Not to
- Eat candy and potato chip type snacks
- drink soda
- drink alcohol
all 'until the redemption'.

These were all made three maybe four years ago. I am observing all of them, and I want them all nullified if I can.
My reason for wanting these nullified is that I did not think about how they would get awkward and a let-down for others in social situations, when they offer me those items. They are very commonly offered, and I'm always denying that part of people's hospitality.

I wrote to Rabbi Moshe Weiner about your request. Here is what he wrote back:

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He should go to three good friends of his [who can be adult Gentiles], who are sincere people, and explain to them in person [with all of them together at the same time] the vow he made, and why he has decided to request this nullification. He should say:
"My reason for wanting these three things nullified is that I did not think about how they would get awkward and be a let-down for others in social situations, when they offer me those items. They are very commonly offered, and I'm always denying that part of people's hospitality."
Then the three good friends shall ask him:
"If you would have known this factor at the time when the vow was made, would you have vowed this?"
Then he should confirm this to them, saying:
"If I had known this factor at the time I made this vow, I wouldn't have made that vow, and I now regret that I made the vow."
Then his three good friends should say to him:
"Your vow is annulled."
My post is about vows. I think I read somewhere that if someone does something three times in a row that thing becomes a vow or like a vow, and the person is now obligated to do it. Is this true for Noahides?

For example, if I repent three days in a row have I now made a vow and am obligated to repent everyday? Another example, when I was a child I decided to become a vegetarian. I have now eaten many vegetarian meals in a row. Can I now never change my mind and eat meat? Could I have made a vow just by stating that I was a vegetarian? I never had in mind the possibility that I could be making a vow when I did these things.

I am also worried about having possibly made vows/promises in the past before I began studying Noahidism and was less conscientious about certain things, by saying I would or wouldn't do something. Sometimes using the word "promise" and sometimes not. I don't think I ever used the word "vow." In some instances I carried the things out; in others I didn't.

I can't remember all the incidents, as this is talking about basically my whole life. What can I do? I know you should always do as you say, but is that the same thing as a vow? Before studying Noahidism I was more careless about things and am now worried. Thank you in advance for any and all help.
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