This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
Buy me here or on Amazon.com
*For a full digest on the laws and customs of Hataras Nedarim both on Erev Rosh Hashanah and throughout the year-please refer to the “Supplement on Hataras Nedarim” provided in the back of the Sefer.
It is customary to perform Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashanah. This is hinted to in the verse “Lo Yachel Divaro Kichol” “Do not transgress your word” as its ending letters are an acronym for Elul. The procedure of this Hataras Nedarim includes two parts 1) nullifying one’s previous vows [i.e. Hataras Nedarim] and 2) stipulating on the future vows of the coming year [Modaah].
When is it done?One says Hataras Nedarim [after Shacharis] before midday. [If one did not do so he may perform Hataras Nedarim up until nightfall [Tzeis Hakochavim] of Rosh Hashanah. See Q&A!]
With how many people is it done? It is proper to say Hataras Nedarim with a group of ten men. [If this is not possible one is to say Hataras Nedarim in front of three men which are listening and annulling his vow.]
Being an expert in the laws: It is proper for every person to review the laws of vows prior to performing Hataras Nedarim, as there are many vows that cannot be revoked.
Who is to stand and who is to sit during Hataras Nedarim?
The custom today is that the individual requesting the annulment remains standing while the judges remain seated throughout the process.
May one perform Hataras Nedarim after sunset of Erev Rosh Hashanah?
One may perform Hataras Nedarim even after sunset, during Bein Hashmashos, up until nightfall [Tzeis Hakochavim]. However as writes Admur in the Siddur it is initially to be done before midday.
If one did not do Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashanah, when is it to be performed?
It is to be performed during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah.
Are women to perform Hataras Nedarim?
Women do not say Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashanah. This is primarily due to reasons of Tznius. Appointing husband as emissary: One’s wife may appoint her husband to nullify the vows for her, having the husband mention this during the annulment. Some write it is proper to do so on Erev Rosh Hashanah in order so the wife also benefits from Hataras Nedarim. In such a case the husband is to tell the tribunal that he is annulling the vows also on behalf of his wife and in return the tribunal is to answer him in plural tense “Hakol Mutarim Lachem”. No other woman may appoint a man as an emissary to nullify vows for her before a court, and rather she must do so herself. See “General laws of revoking vows” for further details of a husband serving as an emissary for his wife.
Are children to perform Hataras Nedarim?
No. Children do not perform Hataras Nedarim until they reach the age of Bar Mitzvah.
Q&A on the reader
If one does not understand the paragraph being read should he read it in a different language?
Yes. One must read the annulment of vows in a language that he understands. It is invalid if one read the Hebrew Nussach thinking it is some kind of prayer or supplication and did not understand its meaning and purpose.
May more than one person at a time read the annulment?
It is permitted for the tribunal to annul the vows of multiple individuals simultaneously. Nevertheless initially there should not be more than one person at a time reading the request for annulment. However in a pressing situation one may allow multiple individuals to read the request simultaneously. In such a case the tribunal is to recite in the Nussach of annulment “Mutar Lachem” in plural.
Q&A on the judges of the tribunal
Of what age are the members of the tribunal to be?
They need to be above Bar Mitzvah and must already have a beard. However some write that regarding the Hataras Nedarim performed on Erev Rosh Hashanah, this is not necessary, and as long as the person annulling the vow is Bar Mitzvah it suffices.
May the members of the tribunal who annul the vow be relatives of each other?
Yes. They may also be a relative of the person asking for the annulment.
May women be part of the tribunal to annul vows?
May a husband or father be part of the tribunal to annul the vow of his wife or daughter?
A husband cannot serve as part of the tribunal of judges to annul the vow of his wife. However a father may serve as part of the tribunal to annul the vows of his daughter.
Should one strive that the members of the tribunal who annul his vow have already said their annulment?
Some are particular to only have those who already released their vows come along and release the binding of one who is still bound. However many are not particular in this and on the contrary they are zealous to be the first ones to release their vows. The Rebbe’s custom was not to be particular in this matter.
Q&A on the annulment process
Must one particularize the vows that he is requesting to revoke?
This depends on whether one remembers the vow he is requesting to annul. See the Supplement on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 16 for the full details of this subject!
Which vows are allowed to be revoked by the tribunal?
Not all vows have the ability to be revoked by the tribunal. Such vows hence remain intact even after performing Hataras Nedarim. Thus a case that one remembers a vow that he made [and thus mentions the vow to a member of the tribunal], the people annulling the vow must know the laws involved in whether such a vow may be annulled and how to do a Pesach and Charata for the vow. See the Supplement in the back on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 18-21 for the full details of this subject!
General laws of revoking vows:
How is a vow revoked?
The person requesting the annulment must regret the vow from the time of its initiation. See the Supplement in the back on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 18 for the full details of this subject!
Some Poskim rule one may never revoke a vow that was made regarding a prohibition. See Supplement on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 19 for the full details of this subject!
Neder Al Daas Chaveiro:
The nullification is only valid for vows he made between him and himself. However those vows that were sworn to him by another person [Al Daas Chaveiro] cannot be annulled. See Supplement on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 20 for the full details of this subject!
Nidrei Mitzvah-When does a Chumra or custom require Hataras Nedarim?
If one performed a Chumra one time with intent to continue doing so forever it has the status of a vow. If he performed the Chumra or custom three times it is considered a vow even if he did not have in mind to do so forever. See the Supplement in the back on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 21 for the full details of this subject!
May one appoint an emissary to annul a vow for him before three judges?
A person must personally appear before the judges in order to have his vow revoked and he cannot appoint an emissary to do so in his place. The only exception to this rule is regarding one’s wife that one’s wife may appoint her husband to nullify the vows for her, having the husband mention this during the annulment. Nevertheless in such a case the husband cannot also serve as part of the tribunal of judges to annul the vow. See the Supplement in the back on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 22 for the full details of this subject!
Q&A on the Modah-Stipulation
Are all one’s future vows invalidated due to the stipulation made by Hataras Nedarim?
This depends on whether one remembered his stipulation at the time of the vow. See the Supplement in the back on Hataras Nedarim Halacha 24 for the full details of this subject!
It was instituted to recite Seder Nezifa immediately after reciting Hataras Nedarim and Modaah. However today many are accustomed not to recite the Seder Nezifa and so is the Chabad custom.
 Siddur Admur; Shla”h [beginning of Miseches Yuma]; Peri Eitz Chaim [Shaar Rosh Hashanah] Shach Al Hatorah Matos; Birkeiy Yosef 581/21; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581/1; Kitzur SH”A 128/16; Chayeh Adam 138/8; Kaf Hachaim 581/19 and 99
Reasons mentioned for this custom: The reason why we annul all previous vows is in order to save oneself from retribution for not keeping a vow during the judgment of Rosh Hashanah. [Chayeh Adam 138/8; Kaf Hachaim 581/99] The custom for stipulating on future vows is based on the Gemara [Nedarim 23a] that one who wants to annul all of his vows of the future year is to perform Hataras Nedarim on Rosh Hashanah. From this spread the custom to say Kol Nidreiy on Erev Yom Kippur, although Zerizin Makdimim and do so already on Erev Rosh Hashanah. [Shla”h beginning of tractate Yuma].
Other customs: Some have the custom to perform Hataras Nedarim forty days before Rosh Hashanah and again 40 days before Yom Kippur. The reason for this is because the Zohar states that one who was excommunicated in the heavenly courts remains in this state for a period of forty days and his prayers are not accepted above. Therefore they are careful starting from forty days earlier to revoke any excommunications so one’s prayer is accepted above on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Beis Keil community of Jerusalem is accustomed to recite Hataras Nedarim every Erev Shabbos of the entire year. [Kaf Hachaim 581/12] Some recite Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul. [Mishmeres Shalom 41/1]
 Shach Al Hatorah Matos; Birkeiy Yosef ibid; Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid; Kitzur SH”A ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid
 Shlah Hakadosh Miseches Yuma; Alef Lamateh 581/101; The laws of Hataras Nedarim are brought in Yoreh Deah chapter 228; The laws of Modaah are brought in Yoreh Deah 211/2
Why does one have to annul previous vows if he already nullified all of his future vows the previous Rosh Hashanah and by Kol Nidrei? Despite the stipulation, there are vows that nevertheless take effect. Thus to nullify these vows we recite Hataras Nedarim. [See Q&A for details] Alternatively, in previous times it was accustomed to perform the stipulation only by Kol Nidrei, and since it is possible that the stipulation then was invalid due to it not being heard by three other people, therefore one is required to revoke the vows. [See Minchas Yitzchak 9/61; To note that this explanation is not relevant today that we recite the stipulation on Erev Rosh Hashanah during Hataras Nedarim, in which case it is valid according to all. Thus one must resort to the first explanation brought above.]
Why does one need to say a Modah on his vows twice, by Hataras Nedarim and by Kol Nidreiy? The Tur 619 writes that the custom is to recite the stipulation on Erev Yom Kippur. The Shlah ibid writes that “Zrizin Makdimim Lemitzvos” and they hence precede the stipulation to Erev Rosh Hashanah. Some say the reason for this is because we suspect that perhaps one will not fulfill his obligation with the stipulation said on Erev Yom Kippur being that it requires another three people to hear him and that he thus must say it aloud to himself, which may not be fulfilled. [Minchas Yitzchak ibid]
 Siddur Admur [not found in the previous sources]
 Luach Kolel Chabad; Hiskashrus 947; The Rebbe would recite it while still wearing his Rashi Tefillin. [Otzer Minhagei Chabad 15; so was also the custom of the Munkatcher-Darkei Chaim Veshalom 700] Others however are accustomed to recite it using Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam. [Otzer ibid]
 The reason: There is no known source for why the vows are to be annulled prior to midday. Some suggest the reason for this is due to Zerizin Makdimim Lemitzvos, as is written regarding Bris Mila [See Pischeiy Teshuvah 262/2] Alternatively it is because it is not befitting to receive Nezifa after midday when the holiness of Rosh Hashanah has begun. [Glosses of Rav Raskin on Siddur p. 503] To note however that practically it is not our custom to recite Seder Nezifa, and hence this reason is not applicable today.
 Siddur Admur; Shlah beginning of tractate Yuma; Daas Torah 619/1; Siddur Yaavetz; Mateh Efraim 581/49,; Kaf Hachaim 581/20; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 700
The reason: The reason behind requiring ten men is because in order to annul the vow of a dream the nullification must be done in the presence of ten men. [Kaf Hachaim ibid] However in the Hataras Nedarim of Admur no mention is made of the vows of dreams, and thus it is difficult to suggest that this is Admur’s reasoning. The Rebbe explains that a Minyan is needed in order to be able to be Mitaken the world prior to Rosh Hashanah. [Likkutei Sichos 4/1332] The difference between the two explanations is that according to the first explanation a Minyan is needed in addition to the person saying the Hatara, while according to the latter explanation the person saying it is joined together with those being matir for there to be a Minyan. [See Commentary on Siddur by Rav Raskin]
 Chayeh Adam 138/8; Kaf Hachaim 581/99
 Shach 228/9
Letter of the law: From the letter of the law there is no preference in whether the judges sit or stand during the annulment. [228/3] However this only applies when the annulment is taking place due to regret of the person who is requesting the annulment. If however the person does not regret making the vow to begin with and the judges must find a Pesach [i.e. reason to convince him to regret the vow from the start] then they must be sitting in order to properly contemplate the Pesach. [228/4] The above however is only regarding the tribunal of judges. However regarding the person requesting the vow there is no preference and he may be seated or standing. The reason for this is because the annulment of vows is not a court case that requires the standing of the litigants. [Shach 228/9; Taz 228/7] Nevertheless the custom is for the judges to always sit and the requester to always stand. The reason for this is because today we are accustomed to always use a Pesach to annul the vow. [Shach ibid] To note that when Hashem asked to revoke His vow he stood and thus the same should apply to anyone who desires to revoke his vow. [Yad Shaul 22/7 in Yados Nedarim of Rav Natanzon]
 Peri Megadim 342 A”A 1
 Shlah beginning of Tractate Yuma
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 581/18
 In Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid he writes that the women rely on Kol Nidrei to revoke their future vows. To note however that not all future vows are revoked with this stipulation, as will be explained later on. Likewise it does not help to revoke any of her previous vows. In any event those women that rely on Kol Nidrei must make sure that they understand the words they are reading, and must read along with the Chazan. Vetzaruch Iyun regarding reading it loud enough for another three people to hear, if this is valid even with other women.
 Yoreh Deah 234/36
The reason: Although the law states [228/16] that one cannot be an emissary to annul another person’s vows, nevertheless by one’s wife it is valid as one’s wife is considered like his own body, and hence it is as if she is present in the court room. [Shach 234/70; Taz 234/46]
What vows may the husband be an emissary for on behalf of his wife? A husband may be an emissary to annul any vow of his wife if she appoints him to do so for her. The limitation on the type of vows a husband can revoke is only with regards to Hafara [234/55 and 59]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Yabia Omer 2/30
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 581/18; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 128/24 [“They cannot be Matir their vows”]; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 14 [p. 39] “The custom is not to do so”; However see Halachos Vehalichos Bar Mitzvah 11/14; Chanoch Lenaar 33
 Kitzur SH”A 128/16; Chayeh Adam 138/8; Alef Lamagen 581/102; Kaf Hachaim 581/99
 Yoreh Deah 228/2 and 46
 Mateh Efraim 581/49
 Michaber 228/2
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 581/16
 Pischeiy Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 228/2; Reb Akiva Eiger 73 and in 228/3; Sheivet Haleivi 4/94
This is based on the general ruling by all Hataras Nedarim that the people annulling the vow must have a beard. The reason they are to have a beard is because by Biblical matters we do not rely on the Chazaka that assumes they have grown two hairs by this time. Hence we require a beard as a full proof. [Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Rav Akiva Eiger ibid]
 Teshuvos Vehanhagos brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid. His reasoning is because since one is not particularizing his vow it is therefore not similar to the Biblical annulment which requires people to have a beard.
 Yoreh Deah 228/3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581/16
 Rav Akiva Eiger 228/3
 The reason: As one’s wife is considered like the same body as her husband, and he is hence invalid to revoke her vow. [Shach 234/7]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 581/16; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 9
 ibid in name of Rav Shneur Zalman of Lublin, the Toras Chesed.
 Kinyan Torah 4/64
 Otzer ibid
 What is Seder Nezifa? Seder Nezifa is a request from the tribunal to remove all excommunications [Niduiy; Cherem; Shamsa], curses [Arur; Klala], from the person through him receiving a scolding and admonishment for his evil ways and actions. This scolding is recited by the person himself and is the actual meaning of Nezifa. Upon expressing the request to the tribunal of ten, the person is to distance himself from the tribunal, remove his shoes, wash his hands, and sit on the ground like a mourner. He is to place ash on his head and then verbally express admonishment for his evil ways and their affects. The tribunal then replies to him that he is freed from his excommunication and may thus join his brothers. The person then stands up and with a tearful eye recites a prayer of Yehi Ratzon that any curses which he may have said should be abolished. The tribunal replies that all of his curses and excommunications are officially annulled. [Siddur Admur] Those that are receiving the Nezifa are to remove their Tefillin beforehand. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 581/7
 Shalah [Yuma]; Admur in Siddur [the Seder Nezifa follows immediately after the Modaah and is to be said in the presence of ten people]
 Shaareiy Teshuvah 581/7; Mateh Efraim 581/49 [that many are no longer accustomed to say it]; Chida in Avodas Hakodesh [Tziporen Shamir 206] that so was the custom of the Chassidim in Yerushalayim and of the Rashash.
The reason: As the removal of the Nezifa must be performed by upright and extraordinary individuals
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 116 [English] based on directive of Rebbe Rayatz in Likkutei Minhagim Sefer Hamamarim 1949 p. 232; Based on this most of the Seder Nezifa is omitted in prints of Tehillas Hashem and Machzor Chabad. It was also omitted by the Rebbe Rashab in the printing of Tehillas Hashem in Rostov. [Igros Kodesh 5/190] However it was printed in the Siddur Torah Or and is mentioned by Shaar Hakolel 41/4. Rav Refael Nachman Kahn states that it was not recited in Lubavitch. [Otzer Minhagei Chabad 12]
Yehi Ratzon of the Kelalos: It is not our custom to recite the Yehi Ratzon that follows the Seder Nezifa and it is thus omitted from the Nussach in Tehillas Hashem and the Machzor. [Igros Kodesh 5/109 based on directive of Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz; in answer to Rav Avraham Chaim Naeh who stated that the custom is to recite the Yehi Ratzon]
The closing response of the dayanim: Our custom is for the tribunal to recite a closing response of removal of any excommunications or curses from the asker. This is recited despite the fact that it comes as a continuation and result of the Seder Nezifa and Yehi Ratzon, of which our custom is to omit. [Igros Kodesh 5/234 in response to a question by Rav Naeh regarding why it is recited if the Yehi Ratzon is omitted]