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Nazir, 3

NAZIR 3 (21 Tishrei, Hoshana Raba) - dedicated by Gedalyah Jawitz of Wantagh, N.Y., honoring the Yahrtzeit of his father, Yehuda ben Simcha Volf Jawitz.


QUESTION: The Gemara cites the statement of Rebbi Elazar ha'Kafar who says that a Nazir is considered a "sinner" ("Choteh"), an appellation which, the Gemara explains, applies only to a Nazir who became Tamei and whose Nezirus extended for longer than he expected. He is called a sinner because now that he must observe Nezirus for a longer period of time, he might regret having made the Nezirus in the first place (and consequently his Korbanos of Nezirus will be "almost" like Chulin in the Azarah). In addition, he might transgress the Isurim of Nazir since, when he accepted them, he did not expect to observe them for so long. One who puts himself into a situation in which he becomes close to sinning is called a sinner.

TOSFOS (2b, DH v'Amai) and the Rishonim point out that from other Gemaras it is clear that Rebbi Elazar ha'Kafar holds that even a Nazir Tahor is called a sinner because he refrained from drinking wine (the pleasure of which is a gift that Hashem gave to man). Tosfos explains that when our Gemara says that a Nazir Tahor is not a sinner, it means that he is not a *serious* sinner, for his sin is minimal and the Mitzvah of making himself a Nazir overrides the minimal sin of prohibiting himself from wine. Tosfos compares this to the Gemara in Berachos (31b) that says that a person who is visited by a foreboding dream at night should fast the following day in order to atone for any sins that he might have done, and even if the next day is Shabbos, he must fast on Shabbos. However, if he does fast for a dream on Shabbos, he must fast on another day as well in order to atone for the sin of fasting on Shabbos! We see that even though it is a sin to fast on Shabbos, one should still fast then, because the fasting is a bigger Mitzvah than it is an Aveirah.

How can the same act be both a Mitzvah and an Aveirah at the same time? If he is doing something wrong with this act, it should be a Mitzvah ha'Ba'ah ba'Aveirah! On the other hand, if the Mitzvah of being a Nazir Tahor is so great that it totally overrides the concern of not drinking wine, then it what way is he consider a minor sinner? What sin is he doing? He is doing the will of Hashem and is not doing any sin! (RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HOROWITZ)


(a) The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (3b) explains that even if it is too hot to sit in a Sukah and thus one is exempt because he is "Mitzta'er," one must still feel remorse at the loss of the Mitzvah of sitting in the Sukah. Perhaps Tosfos is not saying that the person actually did an Aveirah by fasting on Shabbos or by making himself a Nazir, but rather that he should feel remorse at the lost opportunity to fulfill the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos or to fulfill the Mitzvah of making a blessing to Hashem on wine.

However, the case of a Nazir Tahor (or fasting on Shabbos) might not be comparable to the case of one who is exempt from sitting in the Sukah. When, in our case of a Nazir Tahor, the Nazir is not drinking wine, he is also doing a Mitzvah at that moment, and thus he should not necessarily feel bad about the lost opportunity to do the Mitzvah of blessing Hashem over wine since he is fulfilling another Mitzvah at that moment. In the case of Sukah, though, he is not doing any other Mitzvah.

(b) RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HOROWITZ explains as follows. Although the situation (the foreboding dream, or the necessity to become a Nazir) required the person to take the action that he took (fasting on Shabbos, or becoming a Nazir), nevertheless, had the person been totally righteous he would not have been subjected to the situation of having to fast on Shabbos or to become a Nazir. The sin that the Gemara is referring to is the sin that caused the dream or that prompted him to make himself a Nazir in the first place.

However, the Gemara in Berachos that says that he must observe a Ta'anis for his Ta'anis seems to mean that the Ta'anis on Shabbos is itself the sin. After all, every bad dream is foreboding a punishment for his sins and yet his Ta'anis in those cases is not called a sin.

(c) Another way to understand this Mitzvah-Aveirah duality is as follows. The person who made himself a Nazir or fasted for his dream on Shabbos did a drastic form of Teshuvah to repent for the sins and avoid the punishments that the dream was foreboding, or, in the case of Nazir, to break his Yetzer ha'Ra (see Nazir 4b). He should have done a less drastic form of Teshuvah, with all of his heart, for the Gemara in Kidushin says that it is possible for a complete Rasha to do complete Teshuvah in one moment and become a Tzadik. If his repentance would require physical suffering, then he should have more Bitachon in Hashem that whatever he suffers at the hands of Hashem as "Yisurim she'Memarkin Avonosav" he will accept with love. Since he did not trust in Hashem, but rather he took it upon himself to afflict himself by fasting on Shabbos or by becoming a Nazir, there is an element of sin involved in his process of Teshuvah.

It is not considered a real Aveirah, though, since, on his level, he was permitted to do Teshuvah in that manner. Nonetheless, his relative sin is that he was lacking the amount of Bitachon needed to do the higher level of Teshuvah. The fasting itself on Shabbos (or becoming a Nazir) itself is not a sin; the "sin" is that he was lacking Bitachon.

QUESTION: When a person says that he is going to be "Na'eh," beautified, he might mean one of two things. He either means that he will become a Nazir and make himself handsome with long hair, or he means that he will beautify a Mitzvah. If he is holding his hair, says the Gemara, then we know that he means to make himself a Nazir. The Gemara asks, though, how could he call Nezirus "beautifying," if Nezirus is considered a sin, like Rebbi Elazar ha'Kafar teaches.

What is the Gemara's question? When the person said that he will be beautified, he meant that he will beautify himself with the long hair of a Nazir. As such, it has nothing to do with the Nezirus being a Mitzvah that he is beautifying! The Nezirus is "beautified" because he looks handsome with his long hair, and not because it is a Mitzvah that he is beautifying!

Similarly, when a person says "Hareinu Mesalsel" ("I will turn it over"), he might mean that he will become a Nazir and grow long hair that he turns over, or that he will delve into Torah (and "turn it over"). If he is holding his hair when he says it, then we know that he means to make himself a Nazir. TOSFOS (DH Hacha Nami) explains that when he holds his hair he shows that he wants to be Mesalsel in a *Mitzvah* that is related to hair.

Why does Tosfos mention the idea of being Mesalsel with a *Mitzvah*? When the person is holding his hair, we should assume that he wants to be Mesalsel with his hair and not necessarily with a Mitzvah involving his hair!

ANSWER: Apparently, even when he is holding his hair, that act does not show which of the two intentions he has. Holding his hair can only clarify his intention once we know what kind of Na'eh, or Mesalsel, he intended to become. If his intention was to make himself a Nazir, then holding his hair was meant to show us that. If he meant that he was going to be Na'eh with a Mitzvah, and Nezirus is not a Mitzvah, then we assume that he was just holding his hair out of habit or for some other reason and it was not related to his statement. The Gemara concludes that Nezirus is a Mitzvah, and thus we assume that if he meant to say that he will beautify a Mitzvah, he was holding his hair to show that he will beautify a Mitzvah involving his hair. In the same way, regarding Mesalsel, when he holds his hair while saying "Hareini Mesalsel," he means either that he will become a Nazir with long hair, or he means that he will fondle with the Mitzvah that involves growing hair.

According to this explanation, though, how can we apply this understanding to the next case in the Mishnah, "Hareini Mechalkel?" The Gemara says that "Mechalkel" means either that he will "curl" his hair by growing the long curly hair of a Nazir, or it means that he will "provide sustenance" for poor people. When he holds his hair, though, we assume that he means Nezirus! In that case, how is it possible to say that he means that he will provide sustenance by becoming a Nazir? It must be that holding his hair is showing which of the two intentions he had!

Perhaps we can answer that there, too, holding his hair does not indicate that "Mechalkel" means that he will grow the hair of a Nazir, but rather perhaps it means that he will provide sustenance to the Kohanim with the Korbanos that he will bring at the end of his Nezirus.

Alternatively, the reason why holding his hair cannot clarify his intention and tell us what type of Na'eh or Mesalsel he wants to be is because whichever type of Na'eh he means, the word "Na'eh" will mean beautiful and the word "Mesalsel" will mean turning over. He might be holding his hair in order to describe how he will beautify the Mitzvos -- he will turn over the Mitzvos just like a person turns over his hair. Therefore, we cannot assume that he wants to be a Nazir unless there is a way to beautify and turn over Mitzvos by becoming a Nazir. However, if the word Mechalkel is referring to Nezirus, then it means to curl, but if it is referring to providing sustenance, then it does not have any connotation of curling; the word is entirely different. He cannot be holding his hair in order to demonstrate how he will support poor people, and therefore we assume that he is holding his hair to show that he wants to be a Nazir.


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