For the week ending 3 October 2015 / 20 Tishri 5776

Nazir 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Differences between the nazarite prohibitions re wine, haircut and contact with dead
  • The haircut and sacrifices of the nazir who became ritually impure through contact with dead
  • The haircut and sacrifices of the nazir who has successfully completed his period of nezirut
  • What happens to the cut hair in each of the above cases
  • The kohen's share of the nazir's sacrifice
  • When the nazir becomes free to drink wine
  • When the nazir's sacrifices prove to be invalid
  • Contact with the dead in midst of sacrificial process
  • When a nazir and a kohen gadol come upon a met mitzvah
  • The different levels of sanctity in the hierarchy of the kohanim
  • The universal suspension of sanctity for the sake of the met mitzvah
  • What constitutes contact with the dead for interruption of his nezirut
  • Rabbi Yehuda and the disciples of Rabbi Meir
  • Status of decayed flesh of man or animal in regard to ritual impurity

A Puzzling Declaration

  • Nazir 49b

When Rabbi Meir passed away the collegial Sage who regularly disputed his rulings, Rabbi Yehuda, was greatly concerned that he would come under attack from his colleague's disciples. He therefore urged his own disciples to prevent them from attending his Torah dissertations lest they attempt to challenge him just for the sake of proving him incorrect.

One of Rabbi Meir's disciples, the Sage Sumchus, somehow forced his way in and did challenge something that Rabbi Yehuda said. In our gemara it was in connection with Rabbi Meir's statement about a nazir's contact with the dead. In the Mesechta Kiddushin (52b) the challenge was regarding a statement by Rabbi Meir about a kohen using the flesh of a sacrifice to make kiddushin.

In both of these cases Rabbi Yehuda became angry at his disciples for permitting the challenger to enter and he summarily dismissed the challenges. One of the disciples, Rabbi Yossi, then made this puzzling declaration: "People will say: Meir is dead, Yehuda is angry and Yossi is silent — what will happen to the Torah!" He then proceeded to show why the challenges of Sumchuswere indeed valid.

Maharsha (Kiddushin) explains that Rabbi Yossi's comment about Rabbi Yehuda's anger was intended to express his feeling that perhaps the master had erred as a result of becoming angry and that there was an urgent need for him to correct the situation for the sake of Torah truth.

What the Sages Say

"People will say: 'Meir is dead, Yehuda is angry and Yossi is silent – what will happen to the Torah!'"

  • Rabbi Yossi - Nazir 50a

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