כ״א בתשרי ה׳תשע״ו (October 4, 2015)

Nazir 44a-b: The Prohibitions of the Nazir

We have already learned that a nazir is prohibited from coming into contact with a dead body, as well as cutting his hair and eating or drinking grape products. The Mishna on our daf teaches that there are differences between these various prohibitions:

  • If a nazir becomes tameh or if his hair is cut, he must begin his nezirut anew, but if he drinks wine his nezirut continues even though he transgressed a prohibition.
  • There is a difference between these two laws. Coming into contact with the dead obligates the nazir to bring a sacrifice and start his nezirut from the beginning; having his hair cut does not obligate him to bring a sacrifice, and at most he will need to count 30 days, even if he had accepted a lengthier nezirut on himself.
  • The prohibitions against becoming tameh or cutting hair may be pushed aside by other considerations – e.g. taking care of a met mitzva (a dead person who has no one to bury him) or a metzora (a leper) who is obligated to shave his body upon recovering from his tzara’at. There are no exceptions to the rule about drinking wine, which will always be forbidden.

The Gemara derives the rule that forbids all situations of drinking wine for a nazir from the pesukim (see Bamidbar 6:3), and it appears to refer to a case where a person had taken a vow to drink wine. That vow cannot be fulfilled, since the obligation of nezirut is more powerful than the vow that had been taken. Rashi suggests that one case that is more powerful than nezirut is drinking wine at kiddush and havdalah, which would be permitted since this wine is obligatory and the nezirut cannot override this obligation. Most of the commentaries, however, disagree with this position. The Rambam argues that making kiddush and havdalah over wine is only a rabbinic obligation, and it certainly does not take precedence over the biblical laws of nezirut.

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