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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Words, Words,

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

This is a poetry post for the completion of Masechet Nedarim, which is the 14th volume of Talmud that we have studied in Daf Yomi. The current cycle of Daf Yomi began three years ago, at the beginning of January, 2020. It was weeks before my mother died and right at the beginning of the pandemic. I decided to take the challenge of Daf Yomi at that time. Little did I know that it would be a constant companion to me during the time of COVID.

I am always grateful to my teachers, Yardaena Osband and Anne Gordon of Talking Talmud for their daily shiurim. I am also grateful to Rabbanit Michelle Farber of Hadran Women who offers an in depth look at the daf each and every day.

Masechet Nedarim is translated as the Volume of Vows. Most of it flies way above my head as does most of my learning, but the bottom line is this....Have you ever thought why Jews all over the world gather together on the Eve of Yom Kippur? It is to annul vows that they have made or will make. That is how important words are. Promises we make and break. Things we offer and then do not do. Words and their impact are hugely important in the world of Jewish law.

Of course, Nedarim is so much more than that. I will put some links below for those of you interested in other important points that Nedarim makes, but for now, this poem emphasizes what I have taken from the Daf. That we should choose our words carefully, not make promises that we cannot keep. Think before we speak. Don't let words out into the world unless you hope that you can do what you say and say what you do. All the rest is commentary.

Shabbat Shalom.

PS The next Masechet will be Nazir....Join us and start learning!

Words, Words

Every day.

Every hour.

Every minute.


Politicians promise,

government officials threaten,

radio hosts provoke,

sales people hawk,

academics lecture,

talking heads spout,

gamblers bet,

children chatter,

friends gossip

teenagers tease,

lawyers argue,

experts explain.

What's more...

people speak, whisper, joke, debate,

deny, banter, converse, exchange,

exclaim, comment, compare, respond,

reply, question, parse, query,

jabber, jest, complain, compliment.

They speak.

They talk.


Can you even imagine the trail of words that one person speaks in a day?

Word recipients


as words fall

like snow

or salt.

Like honey.

or fire

or soot

onto them,

while other words hang


suspended in midair;



If only, maybe later, sometime soon, next week, at the office, oh sure, I will,

of course I can......

Offers made.

Promises unfulfilled.

Vows unrequited.

Words are plentiful.


Words are so cheap.

So many words wasted.

Filters forgotten.

Our mouths yap and yap and yap;

an endless stream of syllables

from so many.

Certainly the gates of speech are wide open.

So are the gates of heaven.


It’s taken so many words to write this.

Perhaps too many.

But they were chosen carefully.

No promises made here.

No oaths.

No vows.

Not a one.

I am not sure who benefits from this poem.


perhaps I should have chosen

my words more carefully.

Perhaps we all should.


For more information on Masechet Nedarim please see:

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's introduction to Masechet Nedarim

An introduction to Masechet Nedarim by Dr. Ayelet Hoffman Libson

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