- Question: [Monday 22nd Shevat 5782]
I made a pledge in my mind to give a certain amount of charity to a certain cause. I have since rethought of whether I should give this pledge. Must I do so, or since I did not verbalize the pledge, it is not considered binding?
You must honor the pledge, and give to the charity cause the amount that you originally decided in your mind to give. The only way to avoid this obligation, is by doing Hataras Nedarim.
Explanation: Although in general we rule that unless one verbalizes the vow with his mouth then the vow is not binding even if he made the vow in his mind, nonetheless, by Hekdish the rule is that even the designation of the mind has power to sanctify the item. Now, there is a dispute regarding charity pledges if it has the same status as a regular vow which requires verbal pledging or has the same status as Hekdish by which simply pledging in one’s mind suffices to make it binding as of vow. Practically, we rule stringently that it does have the status of a vow if one made a charity pledge in one’s mind even if he did not verbalize it. The Poskim, however, discuss as to when this applies and as to whether one must actually say in his mind that he is taking upon himself to give charity, or simply thinking of giving charity suffices.
Sources: See Tzedaka Umishpat [Bloy] 4:4-5; See regarding the need to verbalize a vow: Michaber Y.D. 210:1; Shavuos 26; See regarding that by Hekdish in Temple times, even having in mind suffices: Michaber C.M. 212:8; Admur O.C. 527 Kuntrus Achron 2 regarding Teruma; See regarding that charity pledges have the status of a vow even when not verbalized and simply accepted in one’s mind: Rama Y.D. 258:13 and Michaber C.M. 212:8 for both opinions and Rama concludes in both Y.D. and C.M. that the main opinion is like the first stringent opinion; Stringent: 1st opinion in Rama and Michaber ibid; Mordechai; Maharik 185; Semak; Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger 258; Imrei Yosher 2:162; Lechem Rav 223; Kneses Hagedola C.M. 212 that according to Michaber should be stringent; Lenient: 2nd opinion in Rama and Michaber ibid; Rosh Kelal 13; Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D 258:16 and Gilyon Maharsha 258 in name of Das Eish 14 that Machshava only helps for the amount of the pledge, however one must at least verbalize that he is making a pledge, otherwise it is not binding according to any opinion; Sdei Chemed Klalei Haposkim that Michaber is lenient; See also Mahariy Asad Y.D. 311; Erech Shaiy Y.D. 210 in name of Avnei Shoham; See regarding having in mind to accept a fast and that simply thinking of fasting is not enough: Michaber O.C. 562:2; M”A O.C. 562:11; Aruch Hashulchan 258:39 See regarding doing Hatras Nedarim to a charity pledge: Michaber Y.D. 258:6; Maharsham 1:201 regarding pledges in thought; Tzedaka Umishpat [Bloy] 4:5