THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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NAZIR 6 & 7 - sponsored by Harav Ari Bergmann of Lawrence, N.Y., out of love
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1) A NEZIRUS "FROM HERE UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD"
QUESTIONS: The Mishnah says that if a person accepts Nezirus "from here
until the end of the world" ("mi'Kan v'Ad Sof ha'Olam"), he becomes a Nazir
for 30 days. The Gemara asks why should he not be a Nazir for 500 years, the
length of time that it takes to walk from one side of the world to the
2) A NEZIRUS FOR AS LONG AS THE NUMBER OF "HAIRS ON MY HEAD"
The Gemara answers, as Tosfos (DH v'Amai) explains, that if he had intended
to make himself a Nazir for 500 years he would have specified the number and
said, "I am a Nazir for 500 years." Since he said instead "from here to the
end of the world," he must mean that he accepts upon himself a single
Nezirus "which feels as long to me as the time that it takes to walk from
here until the end of the world."
The Gemara then asks that perhaps the Nazir means to say a third thing --
perhaps he is accepting upon himself to observe multiple oaths of Nezirus, a
number equivalent to the number of Parsa'os between here and the end of the
world, or equal to the number of motels ("Avna," or rest stops) that a
person stays in while traveling between here and the end of the world.
The Gemara answers once again that since a person knows the number of
Parsa'os or motels between here and the end of the world, and yet he did not
mention that number, it must be that he did not mean to accept upon himself
a number of oaths of Nezirus. (TOSFOS, DH v'Lihavei)
There are a number of basic questions on this Gemara.
(a) The MISHNEH L'MELECH (Hilchos Nezirus 3:5) asks why does the Gemara
suggest that we interpret the person's words in a manner which makes his
Nezirus *longer* if we could interpret them in a manner which makes his
Nezirus *shorter*? We have a principle that "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel" (8a): if
there is a question concerning a person's acceptance of Nezirus, we rule
leniently and assume that he did not intend to accept Nezirus (or that he
only intended to accept the more lenient Nezirus).
(b) What is the Gemara's second question? We already answered the first
question by saying that since he did not specify a number, he must mean to
make a single, 30-day Nezirus. That same answer is the answer used for the
second question! Why, then, did the Gemara ask the second question to begin
with? Also, why do Rabah and Rava suggest other answers to the second
question? (MISHNEH L'MELECH)
(c) If the Gemara does ask a second question and is no longer satisfied with
its original answer, then why does it ask that he should observe the number
of periods of Nezirus that corresponds to the number of motels? It should
say that he should count the number of periods of Nezirus that corresponds
to the number of days that it takes to travel (like the Mishnah on 8a says
regarding "mi'Kan v'Ad Makom Ploni")! In fact, the Gemara later seems to
relate to the question that he should observe periods of Nezirus equal to
the number of days ("Gabi Yomi Nami...")!
(a) TOSFOS later (8a, DH v'l'Chazyei) himself asks the first question.
Tosfos answers that the Gemara thought that the statement "from here until
the end of the world" can be interpreted only stringently, l'Chumra, to mean
a long period of Nezirus or numerous 30-day periods of Nezirus, because the
other option -- to say that he means that the single period of Nezirus feels
as long to him as a 500-year-long Nezirus -- is very forced and requires
adding things into his words that he did not actually say. Therefore, the
Gemara assumes that we should interpret his words l'Chumra.
The Gemara answers that although it is rather forced to interpret his words
as saying that the single period of Nezirus feels very long to him,
nevertheless it is more forced to say that he is accepting a number of
periods of Nezirus since he did not explicitly mention a number when he
could have. The Mishneh l'Melech explains that this is also the intention of
Tosfos in our Sugya (7a).
(b) The MISHNEH L'MELECH points out that Tosfos (top of 7b) addresses our
second question, why the Gemara's second question was not answered by the
answer to its first question. However, the answer of Tosfos is unclear and
requires elucidation. The Mishneh l'Melech explains the answer as follows.
When deciding how to interpret the Nazir's words, we have to determine which
of the various interpretations of his words is most probable. To say that he
means to make one long Nezirus has two disadvantages against it: first, he
did not mention any number of days, and second, it is uncommon for a person
to accept a very long period of Nezirus, since he will not be able to shave
for the whole period.
The second interpretation -- that he means to accept only a 30-day Nezirus
but he feels that his Nezirus is as difficult as one that lasts a long
time -- has only one (albeit strong) disadvantage: it is somewhat forced in
Between these two possible interpretations, we assume that he means the
second one, because it is more probable, or because of the principle of
"Safek Nezirus l'Hakel."
The third interpretation -- that he is accepting many periods of Nezirus
upon himself -- has only one disadvantage: he did not specify a number (and
he could have). This interpretation of his words does not have as a
disadvantage the fact that it is uncommon for a person to accept a very long
period of Nezirus, because each Nezirus period that he accepted, according
to this interpretation, is a small one. This makes this possibility more
logical than the interpretation that he feels as though the Nezirus is long,
which is very forced in his words.
Therefore, the Gemara thought that we should rule l'Hachmir and follow the
interpretation that he is accepting a number of periods of Nezirus. The
Gemara answers that the disadvantage of this interpretation -- the fact that
he did not mention a number -- is actually very strong evidence that he did
not mean to accept a number of periods of Nezirus, and therefore the two
possible interpretations (that he means to accept many periods of Nezirus,
or that he feels that a single period of Nezirus is as difficult as a long
period) are equally possible, and hence we apply the principle of "Safek
Nezirus l'Hakel" and make him a Nazir for only thirty days.
(c) The Gemara does not suggest that he should be a Nazir for as many
periods as there are days of travel from here to the end of the world,
because there is no reason to divide up the travel into days any more than
into other periods of time, such as weeks, hours, months, or years. The
travel time is all one long, continual period, and there is no reason to
split it up into smaller time periods. However, each motel is a separate
stop and serves to divide up the trip into sections. Similarly, each Parsah
is a separate milestone in places where they count distances by Parsa'os.
(This is similar to the conclusion of the Gemara that "days are not
separated from each other.")
When the Gemara later asks that he should observe as many Nezirus periods as
the number of days it takes to travel, the Gemara is relying on the verse
that it cites ("va'Yehi Erev va'Yehi Voker"), which implies that days are to
be viewed as separate from each other. However, earlier, when the Gemara
asks that one should count as many Nezirus periods as there are motels, the
Gemara is taking for granted the answer that it gives later, that the verse
"va'Yehi Erev va'Yehi Voker" is not splitting the days into separate time
QUESTION: The Gemara asks what the difference is between a case of one who
says, "I am a Nazir like the hair on my head," and the case of one who says,
"I am a Nazir from here until the end of the world." When one says, "I am a
Nazir like the hair on my head," he counts as many Nazir periods as there
are hairs on his head. However, if he accepts to become a Nazir as long as
"from here until the end of the world," he observes only a single Nezirus.
The logic behind this, the Gemara explains (in its first answer), is that a
person knows how many days worth of travel there are from here until the end
of the world (500 years), and thus had he wanted to observe multiple periods
of Nezirus, he would have specified the number. In contrast, a person does
not know how many hairs are on his head, and thus he could not have
specified a number and he had no other choice but to say as many as the
"hairs on my head."
The Gemara cites a Tosefta to prove that there is a difference between
accepting a Nezirus through comparison to an item that has a set quantity,
and accepting a Nezirus through comparison to an item that has no set
quantity. The Tosefta discusses cases of Nazir Olam. If a person says, "I
will be a Nazir for all the days of my life," he becomes a Nazir Olam and he
may cut his hair when it becomes cumbersome. In contrast, if he designates a
set time period and says, "I will be a Nazir for 1000 years," he practices a
single Nezirus that is 1000 years long (that is, a single Nezirus until he
dies); he is not a Nazir Olam and he may never cut his hair.
How is the Gemara proving its point from this Tosefta? The reason the person
does not practice many periods of Nezirus in the case of "from here until
the end of the world" is because he could have specified a number, but he
did not specify a number. However, the reason why a person practices a
single, long period of Nezirus when he says "1000 years" is because he *did*
specify a time period! The Tosefta seemingly has nothing to do with the
point that the Gemara is trying to prove in order to explain our Mishnah!
(MISHNEH L'MELECH, Hilchos Nezirus 3:5; the Mishneh l'Melech leaves this
ANSWER: The Gemara might mean to say the following. The only reason a person
would prefer to specify an amount (e.g. 500 years) rather than to use a
descriptive term (e.g. "from here until the end of the world") is because he
is interested in the specific amount (which in this case is an amount of
periods of Nezirus (30 days each) equal to the number of days in 500
years -- or 182,500 periods of 30-day Nezirus, which is 5,475,000 days of
Nezirus, or 15,000 years). However, a person knows that he will not live for
that long. Why, then, should he bother specifying the exact number that he
is accepting if that number is not really relevant? He might as well say
that he wants to be a Nazir for as long as "from here until the end of the
Hence, the Gemara proves that even if a person accepts a number of periods
of Nezirus that will last longer than he expects to live, he has interest in
that specific amount (and he is not simply exaggerating). The Gemara proves
this from the fact that a person who accepts Nezirus for 1000 years is not a
Nazir Olam. Even though he knows that he is making himself a Nazir for the
rest of his life, the number of "1000 years" is not considered to be the
same as saying "until the end of my life," but rather he means to make
himself a Nazir specifically for 1000 years. Likewise, a person could have
an interest in making himself a Nazir for as many days as it takes to walk
"from here until the end of the world." Hence, he should have specified the
number instead of saying just a descriptive term.