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Promises: Are there times when one should make a promise? If so, why? J.

Jewish law generally disapproves of promises. People are not always careful about keeping their promises and many promises provedifficult to keep. The exception is a promise made during a time of suffering. (Tosafot, Chullin 2a) This is based on Jacob’s promises in last week’s portion, Vayeitzei. The Midrash says that we learn from Jacob that we should make promises during times of trouble. The verse in Psalms (66:13) says, “I will come to Your house with offerings, I will pay all my promises that my lips expressed and my mouth spoke when I was suffering.” The Sefer Chasidim (#403) explains that the promises should reflect the specific problem that is confronting you. One should think that it is possible that the challenge is to force the person to deal with the specific issue about which he is making his promise.

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