MISHNAH. VOWS CAN BE ANNULLED BY A HUSBAND ON THE SABBATH, AND ABSOLUTION MAY BE GRANTED FOR VOWS WHEN THESE ARE NECESSARY FOR THE SABBATH
This relates to the Torah section on vows (Num. 30:1ff)
If a woman also vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a bond. . . And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it; then her vows shall stand, and her bonds with which she bound her soul shall stand.
But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, with which she bound her soul, of no effect; and the Lord shall forgive her. (Num. 30:4, 8-9)
Of course the Talmudic rabbis do not comment on the gross unfairness of the idea that a woman’s words could be annulled by her husband. This was simply their reality – as it was even until very recent times in America. They do ask, though, why this Mishnah is here – what, exactly is the point. Specifically, why are they two separate sentences?
The scholars asked: Is annulment [permitted] whether it is required [for the Sabbath] or not, whereas absolution [may be granted] only when it is necessary, but not otherwise, and for that reason they are divided from each other? . . .
Come and hear: For Zuti, of the School of R. Papa, recited: Vows may be annulled on the Sabbath when they are required for the Sabbath: thus, only when required for the Sabbath, but not otherwise.
That bears on the question of what “on the day” means. Is it 24 hours, in which case one could most likely wait until after Shabbat, or is it a lesser amount of time in which case they would often have to be annulled during Shabbat or risk standing.
It is not resolved:
It is dependent on Tannaim: [The period for] the annulling of vows is all day; R. Jose son of R. Judah and R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon maintain: Twenty-four hours
And there is a short discussion on measuring.
Rabbah b. R. Hunah was found measuring water while sitting in a bathtub:
“I was merely occupying myself”, he replied.
And with that – the tractate Shabbat abruptly ends.