Daf Yomi

For the week ending 31 May 2003 / 29 Iyyar 5763

Avoda Zara 72 - Horayot 3

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

A Hair of a Difference

There is more than a hair of difference between one hair and another when it comes to the nazir.

Our mishna lists the hair of a nazir as one of the items which are forbidden to derive any benefit from, and which retain their prohibited state even when they are only a tiny fraction of a mixture. Rashi cites as the source for this the passage which states that upon completing his period of nezirut and shaving his head the nazir "must take the hair of his nezirut and place it in the fire beneath (the pot in which is being cooked) the shelamim sacrifice." (Bamidbar 6:18)

This is true of the nazir who successfully completes his period of nezirut and brings the sacrifices required of him. But what about the hair which is shaved from the head of a nazir whose nezirut is interrupted because of his contact with the dead, and must also cut his hair and being sacrifices before starting his nezirus over again?

The mishna in Mesechta Temurah (33b) lists the hair of such a nazir as one of those items which must be buried because they are forbidden for benefit. The source for this, writes Radvaz in his commentary on Rambam, is the passage which refers to that nazir "sanctifying his head on that day" (ibid. 6:11).

While both hairs are forbidden for benefit, there is a difference between them. When the hair which the Torah commanded to burn turns into ashes we consider the mitzvah as having been completed and those ashes are no longer forbidden for use. In the case of the other hair which must be buried the ban is still in effect on any benefit and even if it is burned its ashes must be buried.

Avoda Zara 74a

When Most is Not Enough

"May all of wickedness in its entirety vanish like smoke."

"Our L-d, and G-d of our fathers, reign over all the world in its entirety in Your glory."

These prayers from our Rosh Hashana services seem to contain an element of redundancy. The explanation for the double terminology has its roots in our gemara.

Two passages are cited in our gemara which use the term entire. One of them is in regard to the central topic of this section of the Talmud which is the atonement sacrifice which must be brought when the Sanhedrin mistakenly misleads a majority of the nation into committing a sin. The opening words in the Torah chapter dealing with this issue are "And if the entire congregation shall err."

The other passage mentions "the entire nation" (Malachi 3:9) and serves as the basis for the rule that the Sages do not issue a decree unless they are certain that a majority of the nation is capable of abiding by it.

The conclusion of the gemara is that in regard to both cases we consider the majority as equivalent to the entirety. For a communal atonement to apply it is not necessary for the entire court to err since a majority is sufficient. Neither is it necessary to consider the ability of the entire nation to abide by a decree, only a majority of it.

Maharsha points out that in the latter case the use of the term "entire nation" when indeed only a majority is required was intended to teach us the rule of majority being equivalent to entirety which is applied to many halachic areas. This lesson was unnecessary, however, in regard to a ruling of the court where the rule of majority is explicitly stated by the Torah in Shmot 23:3. An alternative explanation therefore had to be found for the use of the term "entire congregation" in regard to the erroneous judgment of the Sanhedrin. The thesis proposed by Rabbi Yonatan that a unanimous erroneous judgment was required to make the atonement necessary was rejected and the conclusion was that the entire Sanhedrin must be involved in making the ruling, but only a majority misjudging is needed for applying the law of atonement.

Now that we see how universal is the law of majority being equivalent to entirety we can appreciate the explanation given by Turei Zahav [Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 582(3)] for our Rosh Hashana prayers. We are not content with only a majority of the evil in the world vanishing we wish to see it all go up in smoke. And we will not be satisfied with only a majority of the world recognizing the Kingdom of Heaven we pray that G-ds reign is recognized by the entire universe.

Horayot 3b


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