For the week ending 19 September 2015 / 6 Tishri 5776

Nazir 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • When a nazir can utilize his nazir father's sacrifice funds for himself
  • A commitment to the Sanctuary made in error
  • An error made in the tithing of animals
  • The nazir whose animal designated for a sacrifice was stolen
  • The mistaken ruling of a sage regarding a nazir who made this vow unaware that the Beit Hamikdash had been destroyed
  • The vow of nezirut based on a guess
  • What is forbidden to a nazir
  • If the nazir is forbidden to eat the grapevine
  • An analysis of the Torah's delineation of what is forbidden to the nazir to consume
  • Two different methods of interpreting two general terms with a particular in between
  • When permitted matter becomes prohibited through being combined with forbidden matter

Black or White?

  • Nazir 31a

"I devote to the Sanctuary the black ox which is first to come out of my house."

Should someone make a commitment and the ox which first exits the house turns out to be white there is a difference of opinion between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel as to whether this commitment made in error is binding.

The simple reading of the text of the mishna in which this case appears is that the subject of contention is the status of the white ox which actually came out first. Beit Shammai's view is that the intention of the person making the commitment is to devote to the Sanctuary the first animal that leaves the house, and his referring to it as black is an incidental error in assuming that it would be black.

There is, however, a radically different approach that proposes that the animal in question is not the white one that came out first but rather the black one that followed. The reasoning for this is that what the consecrator had in mind was not the first animal to come out but the first of the black oxen that would exit.

What the Sages Say

"A vow of nezirut is valid only if there is absolute clarity in the commitment. Should amikdashHtwo people see someone coming towards them and one of them makes a vow to be a nazir if that stranger is a nazir, while the other makes a similar vow if the stranger is not a nazir – neither of them becomes a nazir because of the lack of clarity at the time of the vow."

  • Rabbi Tarfon - Nazir 35a

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