The opening passage of this week’s Torah reading speaks about the obligation to fulfill one’s word when he makes a NEDER or a vow. The Torah disparages making vows. Chazal consider making vows as if one sins. On the other hand, when a vow is made then it is obligatory upon the person to fulfill his commitment.
There is a way, however, to nullify a vow. One has to go to a Bet Din constituted for this purpose and they can nullify the vow under certain conditions. The person has to regret having made it or because of certain circumstances he finds it too difficult to carry out.
My Rebbi, Harav Y.B. Soloveitchik, made and insightful observation. He said that nullifying a vow is similar to one who does TESHUVA or repents his actions of a specific transgression.
When one nullifies a vow he does so for one of two reasons as pointed out above. He either finds he cannot carry out his commitment because of conditions that have developed or he has a different mindset now and regrets having made the vow.
The same is true when one does TESHUVAH. He does so because he does not like the consequences of his actions and what it does to his life-style or because he has an inner change of heart and recognizes that these actions are not consistent any longer with his mental and spiritual feelings. He thus regrets his way of life and wants to nullify his old manner and start anew through TESHUVA.