י״ז בתשרי ה׳תשע״ו (September 30, 2015)

Nazir 39a-b: The Hair of Naziriteship

We have already learned that a person who accepts upon himself a standard nezirut is obligated to grow his hair for thirty days. The Mishna on our daf teaches that if his head is shaven during that period – even against his will, for example by bandits – he will need to begin his nezirut anew, since he must have 30 days of growth.

This halakha leads the Gemara to discuss an apparently trivial matter – does hair grow from the end or from the root? The argument is that if it grows from the bottom, or the root, then as long as some hair remained it is not a problem, since the hair of nezirut remains to be cut off at the end of the nezirut. If, however, it grows from the top, once you cut the nazir‘s hair off, even if you leave some at the bottom, you have removed the hair of nezirut.

One of the proofs brought in an attempt to solve this conundrum is the case of blorit d’goyim – the non-Jews’ blorit hairstyle.The Gemara’s assumption is that this proves that hair grows from the bottom, since we see that the hair that was braided remained tight, while the hair closer to the head became loose. This proof is eventually rejected by the Gemara, which argues that the looseness at the bottom may be the result of some other development.

di-bloritMany suggestions are offered to define the term blorit, but no word in Greek or Latin is a perfect match for it. It is a hairstyle, with hair grown long – particularly on the sides and in the back of the head. The hair was then tied and braided into different shapes. Later on, the braided hair was shaved off in a special pagan ritual.

This image was taken from the Hebrew edition of the Steinsaltz Talmud, Tractate Nazir, page 173.

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