R’ei: Derech Emunah: Charity as a Pledge: Mitzvah 474-Concept-249
The 9th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Menachem Mendel (ben Shmuel) Stern (1759-1834). He was a talmid of Rav Yaakov Lorberbaum of Lissa (author of Nesivos Hamishpat, Chavas Da’as, and Derech Chaim). He succeeded Rav Yehuda Hakohen Heller (author of Kuntres Hasefeikos and brother of the Ketzos Hachoshen) as Rav of Sighet, Hungary. Rav Stern was a chassid of Rav Moshe Leib of Sassov and of Rav Mendel of Kossov. Among his works is Derech Emunah. [Adar I]
Tzedakah is included in the category of vows. Therefore one who says, “I accept to give money to tzedakah,” or, “this dollar shall go to tzedakah,” he must immediately give it to a poor person. If he delays he has violated, “you shall not delay paying a vow. (Rambam, Hilchot Matanot Ani’im, 8:1)
When the Rambam rules that tzedakah is included in the category of vows, he is telling us that one may not reach racked a pledge. It is therefore advisable to hesitate before making a pledge and being obligated as with a vow. Therefore one should be careful to say, “Bli Neder,” when making a pledge during Yizkor.
It seems to me that if a person who is in terrible danger makes a pledge, “I will give a gift to charity if I am saved,” it is possible for him to be released from this pledge just as it would be possible to be released from a regular pledge. (Derech Emunah)