On second thought

How many times do we retract our words? The short answer is – countless. “Sorry, I did not mean that” or “Let me rephrase,” and the plethora of other common expressions are at our disposal to make amends for the hasty promises and rushed utterings. To err is, after all, human.

Our Torah portion warns of the irreparable consequences of such behavior, discussing the annulment of vows made by a woman. The female vows are as respected as those made by a male. However, they can be annulled by the father of the husband of a woman.

In Numbers 30:16, Torah describes a case when the husband experiences the second thoughts. “But if he annuls them after he finds out, he shall bear her guilt.” Commenting on this verse, Rashi quotes Sifrei Bamidbar “We learn from here that he who makes another take a false step takes his place in respect to all punishments which he would incur.”

To experience the second thoughts is human, but we must remember that sometimes only the first thought and the first action count.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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