By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
In the beginning of Parshas Mattos, Perek lamed, posuk gimmel the Torah tells us that one should keep his word and not desecrate his vows. The Shach brings a remez from the words “lo yachel devaro kechol” that teaches us that on Erev Rosh Hashana one should do hataras nedarim since the last letter of each word spells out “Elul.”
Do women have an obligation to do hataras nedarim or not? If not, why would women be exempt since they have the mitzvah of keeping their word the same way a man does?
The Halichos Shlome says the minhag is that women do not do hataras nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashana. The Teshuvos Vehanhagos chelek alef, siman shin lamed heh writes that he always wondered why women do not dohataras nedarim especially since we also nullify vows for the future. He answers that this is so since in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah, siman resh lamed daled, seif nun vov it says that if there is a Bais Din that is already convened the husband can be a shaliach for his wife for hataras nedarim. When the husband does hataras nedarim for himself he is also acting as an emissary for his wife. The problem with this is that when the husband says his nusachand Bais Din responds, it is all said in lashon yachid (singular form) so it would seem like the wife is not included. The answer to this is that the women are included in the Kol Nidrei that we say on Yom Kippur.
The reason why women don’t do hataras nedarim is based on Rabbi Akiva Eiger in Yoreh Deah, siman resh chof ches, seif koton gimmel that says that women are not kosher to part of a Bais Din to be mattir neder. The woman would therefore have to appear in front of three men and that would be lacking in tzniyus, so we rely on the Kol Nidrei from Yom Kippur for this.
Let us hope that Hashem keeps his vow of redeeming us and may it happen speedily in our day.