ט׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ו (October 22, 2015)

Nazir 61a-b: Slaves and Nezirut

Who can choose to become a nazir?

The Torah specifically says that both men and women can become nezirim (see Bamidbar 6:2). The first Mishna in the ninth perek of Massekhet Nazir teaches that non-Jews (Canaanites) cannot become nezirim, although avadim – non-Jews who are slaves and owned by Jews – can, theoretically, accept nezirut upon themselves.

While Rashi says simply that a non-Jew’s acceptance of nezirut is not significant and that he can therefore continue to drink wine, cut his hair and come into contact with the dead, Tosafot and the Rosh argue that the main idea here is to teach that should a non-Jew accept nezirut, keep all of its restrictions and then desire to bring the sacrifices of a nazir in the Temple, his offerings will be rebuffed. Although a non-Jew can bring voluntary sacrifices in the Beit HaMikdash, he cannot bring the sacrifices of a nazir.

With regard to non-Jewish slaves, the halakha is that a non-Jew who is sold to a Jewish person as a slave () will be obligated to keep the same mitzvot that a Jewish woman is obligated to keep. The Mishna teaches that there are differences in the levels of obligation of a woman and a slave with regard to nezirut. While a woman’s husband cannot forbid her from keeping her commitment to nezirut (although he does have the power of hafara – annulling her oaths, as will be discussed on tomorrow’s daf), the owner of an eved can refuse to allow the slave to keep the laws of nezirut. In the next Mishna (62b) we will learn that even if the owner refuses to allow the eved to keep the laws of nezirut, the slave’s commitment to do so remains, and should he become a free man, he will be obligated to become a nazir.

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