Shevuot (Oaths) 26 - No Oaths Regarding the Past

According to Rabbi Ishmael, one is not liable to bring a sacrifice for oaths concerning past events, because of the following: " If a person swears by uttering with his lips to do bad or to do good ..." - and these oaths are expressed in future terms.

Rabbi Akiva said to him, "If so, if you want to interpret the verse literally, then you only have oaths dealing with good and bad. What about neutral oaths, such as to throw a rock into the sea?" Rabbi Ishmael answered, "I get it from the extra inclusion of 'for anything that a person utters in an oath'". Said Rabbi Akiva, "This inclusion also includes oaths concerning the past!"

Rabbi Akiva answered well! What does Rabbi Ishmael have to say? The teacher of Rabbi Ishmael was Rabbi Nechunia ben Hakaneh, the chief kabbalist of the time, and the teacher of Rabbi Akiva was Nachum Ish Gamzu, known for saying "This also is for the good," and they differed on which of the 13 rules of Torah interpretation is prevalent - the generalization/specification or the amplification/limitation.

Art: Frederick Childe Hassam - Sea and Rocks, Appledore, Isles of Shoals