כ״ד באלול ה׳תשע״ה (September 8, 2015)

Nazir 17a-b: A Nazir in a Cemetery

On yesterday’s daf we were introduced to the opinion of Rabbi Yohanan, who says that if a person accepts nezirut upon himself while standing in a cemetery, he does become a nazir, his status as tameh notwithstanding. The Gemara on our daf accepts Rabbi Yohanan’s position and concludes that a person who is warned that he should not accept nezirut given his situation (he is standing in a cemetery and will immediately become tameh) will be punished with malkot (lashes) if he does so.

This ruling leads Rava to ask whether there is a minimum length of time that a nazir must remain in the cemetery in order to be liable for malkot. This question is based on a parallel law that we find regarding the Temple. Just as a nazir cannot enter a cemetery, it is forbidden for a person who is tameh to enter the precincts of the Temple. With regard to a tameh person in the Temple, the law is that unless he is there for a length of time that is considered “significant” – defined as the amount of time that it takes to bow down – he is not liable for punishment. Rava’s question is whether the law would be the same for a nazir. The Meiri points out that Rava does not anticipate that the requirement would be identical for the nazir and the tameh person entering the mikdash; nevertheless, the concept of a minimum stay might be applied here as it is in the case of the Temple.

Since the rule requiring a minimum stay in the Temple is a law whose source is a halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai – an oral tradition from Mount Sinai – it is not clear whether it can be applied to other halakhot as well. The conclusion of the Gemara is teiku – the question remains standing with no final decision.

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