1) A FATHER-IN-LAW WHO PROHIBITS HIS SON-IN-LAW FROM BENEFITING FROM HIM
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses the predicament of a father-in-law who made a Neder to prohibit his son-in-law from receiving any benefit from him and who now seeks to give money to his daughter. The Mishnah states that he may say to his daughter, "I give you this money as a present on condition that your husband has no jurisdiction over it; it is given only for you to buy food with it and eat the food."
The RAN explains that both phrases are necessary. The father must specify that the husband "has no jurisdiction over it" because a husband is normally entitled to everything in his wife's domain. The father also must specify that the money is "only for you to buy food with it and eat the food" so that the woman herself will not fully acquire the gift until she places the food in her mouth. At that point, it is not possible for the husband to receive any benefit from it. In this way, the father-in-law does not violate his Neder not to give any benefit to his son-in-law.
The Ran implies that the money (and food purchased with the money) belongs to the father until the daughter actually eats the food. Consequently, she may not give the money to her husband because he would then benefit from his father-in-law's property. However, the MEFARESH states that she may give the money directly to her husband when her father made this condition. This is also the view of one opinion cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES. Why may she give her father's money to her husband if doing so violates her father's Neder?
(a) The AVNEI MILU'IM (85:1) answers that due to the love a father has for his daughter, he any gift he gives to her is absolute and unconditional, despite the fact that he stated certain conditions. The reason why she may give the gift to her husband is because his statement gives the impression that the money remains his until his daughter eats it. Since the son-in-law does not think that he can acquire the gift, he does not acquire it. The Mefaresh (DH Aval Amar Lah) himself explains that the father's statement ("on condition that your husband has no jurisdiction over it") does not prevent the Halachah of "Yad Ishah k'Yad Ba'alah" (whatever the woman acquires belongs to her husband) from taking effect, because the father allows his daughter to do with the money whatever she wants. Consequently, when the money is given to the woman it is considered as though the husband receives it directly from his father-in-law. What purpose does the father's stated condition serve, then, if the gift he gives to his daughter still becomes the possession of her husband? The stated condition, which gives onlookers the impression that the husband has no right to the money, is designed to take away from the husband the knowledge of the gift. It fulfills its purpose and successfully blocks the law of "Yad Ishah k'Yad Ba'alah" from taking effect. Without a strong mechanism to block "Yad Ishah k'Yad Ba'alah" from taking effect, the gift indeed would be considered as though it was given directly to the husband (and the Neder violated). If the wording used for the gift would allow the husband to think that he could acquire it, he indeed would acquire it. (See also SHALMEI NEDARIM.)
The Gemara in Kesuvos (79a) presents a similar situation. The Gemara there discusses the case of a woman who does not want her future husband to eat the produce of a field she owns. She therefore writes a document, before the marriage, in which she attests that she has given the field as a present to another party. The Gemara teaches that if it is clear from the circumstances that she did not genuinely want to give the field as a present, but she did so merely to prevent her husband from taking possession of it, the "recipient" of the gift has no claim to the field (even if he presents the document in Beis Din). The Gemara there asks that if the document is invalid, why indeed does the husband not acquire the field? The Gemara answers that since he was under the impression that she did not own the field at the time he married her, he married her with the assumption (or "condition") that he would not receive the field. (See RASHI there, DH k'Nechasim.)
(b) The CHASAM SOFER gives the following reason for why the daughter may give the money to her husband even though the money legally belongs to her father. Although the father is the owner of the money until his daughter eats whatever food she purchases with it, if she uses the money for a purpose other than the purpose her father stipulated she is considered stealing the money. Accordingly, she becomes the owner of the money (through theft). When she gives it to her husband, he does not benefit from his father-in-law's money but from his wife's. Although her father may demand in Beis Din that she return what she stole to him, the money now belongs to her. The Chasam Sofer suggests that such a scheme may be permitted in order to circumvent a Neder (since the father is not giving benefit to his son-in-law, and he presumably does not mind that his daughter "stole" his money). (Mordechai Zvi Dicker, Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE NEDER OF A WIDOW OR DIVORCEE
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that if an unmarried woman makes a Neder with the stipulation that the Neder should take effect after thirty days, and subsequently she marries within thirty days, her husband does not have the right to annul her Neder. This is derived from the apparently superfluous verse, "The vow of a widow or divorcee... shall be upon her" (Bamidbar 30:10). The verse cannot be teaching simply that no one may annul the Neder of a widow or divorcee, because that is obvious -- no one is responsible for her Neder except for her. Rather, the verse must be teaching that in a case of a woman who makes a Neder when no one has the right of Hafarah (such as an unmarried woman), the Neder remains irrevocable when she marries.
The Gemara's inference from the verse is problematic, because the verse is needed to teach a different law. The Gemara in Kesuvos (49a) discusses a case in which a girl's father or his representatives hand her over for the purpose of marriage to the representatives of her future husband, and she becomes widowed or divorced while on the road. Once she has been given over to the representatives of the husband, is she considered to be in the domain of her father (since she has not yet reached the husband) or in the domain of her husband (since she has been given over to his representatives)? Tana d'Vei Rebbi Yishmael derives from the verse that once she has left her father's domain for the purpose of marriage, he no longer has the right to annul her Nedarim, and since the husband died, her Nedarim are irrevocable. How can the verse be used to teach both Halachos?
ANSWER: The SHALMEI NEDARIM answers that both Halachos may be derived from the underlying lesson of the verse. The verse teaches that a woman must be entirely in the domain of either her father or husband in order for him to have the ability to annul her Neder. The verse teaches that if the Neder existed at a time when she was not in the husband's or father's domain, he does not have the right of Hafarah. Accordingly, both the Halachah in Kesuvos and the Halachah in Nedarim may be derived from this verse. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)