Why were the avos allowed to swear?

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Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 8:49 pm
It always bothered me as a kid. Not sure if I asked and didn't get a good answer, or if I never asked. (Or if I asked and forgot the answer afterwards.) Just thought of the question again because of this week's parsha...

So I'd like to understand it on a "grown-up" level. In theory, is it wrong to swear about something that you honestly intend to do? Like "I swear I'll pay you back tomorrow." Sure, it might not happen for some reason, but you 100% intend to do it.

And if that is wrong, why do the Avos and other people in Tanach swear? Was it allowed then and not now? If so, why? Or are we bound by the same rules but we just don't trust ourselves?

Not looking for conjectures, but for actual answers that you remember learning or know a source for. Thanks!
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Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 9:17 pm
You're not allowed to swear to certain things-like that the sky is blue, or obviously to something untrue. Other than that, it's more to the side of "we don't trust ourselves" though I don't think that's the right wording. It's just that swearing is a very strong action, so we basically don't have any reason that it's worth doing.
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Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 9:43 pm
But in theory, if you needed someone else to trust you, and you were 100% sure you were going to do something, you could swear?

The avos/shevatim, etc. swear a LOT. I guess there might be a reason for each of them, why "not swearing" was not an option. Just seems like there must be a stronger, more overarching reason. Maybe I'm looking for something that doesn't exist.
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Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 10:20 pm
They made them swear (would promise be more acceptable?) or swore themselves to be sure to stay commitment. That's how serious swearing is. And it's why it's so seldom done.
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Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 11:04 pm
Swearing in Beis Din was a "thing" for many years also, not just in the times of Tanach.

In general, you can swear nowadays too. But because of the severity of breaking a sworn promise or swearing falsely, we are advised to avoid it. Even when people could swear in Beis Din, many would pay just to not need to swear.
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