כ״ד בתשרי ה׳תשע״ו (October 7, 2015)

Nazir 46a-b: Shaving the Bald Nazirite

As we have learned, a nazir cannot cut his hair during the period of his nezirut; after he has completed his nezirut he is commanded to cut his hair and burn it. What if he has no hair? Our Gemara quotes a baraita that discusses a case of nazir memorat: a nazir who is totally bald. In such a situation, Beit Shammai rules that there is no need to take a razor to his head, while Beit Hillel rules that he must do so.

There are two readings offered by the Gemara with regard to this disagreement. According to the first approach, Ravina explains Beit Shammai’s position as meaning that there is nothing that the nazir can do to fulfill his obligation; according to Beit Hillel once the nazir performs the symbolic act of shaving he has fulfilled his obligation, even though there was no hair to cut off. According to the second approach, Rabbi Avina explains that according to Beit Hillel the nazir is obligated to shave, but he cannot, while Beit Shammai believes that since he cannot cut off his hair he is not obligated to do so.

In any case, the Gemara parallels the question of cutting the hair of a bald nazir to the question of placing oil and the blood of the sacrifice on the right thumb and big toe of a healed metzora who has brought the required korbanot (see Vayikra 14:14-17). What if the metzora has no thumb? The baraita offers three positions on this matter:

  • Rabbi Eliezer rules that the metzora will remain tameh forever.
  • Rabbi Shimon says that the oil and sacrificial blood should be placed where his thumb should be.
  • The say that in such a case, the left thumb can be used instead of the right.

Rabbi Pedat identifies Beit Shammai with Rabbi Eliezer, which matches Ravina’s explanation. According to the second version, Rabbi Avina disagrees with Rabbi Pedat’s position.

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