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My Case is Different

Nazir (2:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 hours ago

The Mishnah (2:4) teaches that if one said "I am a Nazir on condition that I can drink wine or become tameh met" then they are a nazir and all the prohibitions of nazir apply. The Bartenura explains, this person was aware of all the prohibitions, yet tried to make a condition against a Torah law. In such a case the stipulation is disregarded, and the person is a full nazir. Similarly, if one accepted to become nazir but did not know that a nazir was not allowed to drink wine, then all the prohibitions of nazir would apply. In this case however R' Shimon argues that he would not be a nazir. The Bartenura explains that R' Shimon maintains that one only becomes a nazir if they excepted all the limitations. The final case is where one accepted to become a nazir but claimed that given his health, he thought the Chachamim, would permit him to drink wine, or since he worked as an undertaker, the Chachamim would allow him to become tameh met. In that case, the Chachamim rule that he is not a nazir, while R' Shimon maintains he is a nazir (until a Chacham is matir the neder).

The Bartenura explains that in the final case, the Chachamim permit the person as it is defined as nidrei onsim – a forced neder (see Volume 9 Issue 19) – one of the four categories that do not require a Chacham to undo the neder.

The Tosfot Yom Tov, cite the Tosfot (11b s.v. Nidrei havai) who asks that nidrei onsim are only those cases, where the ones – forced circumstance – come after the neder is made, thus preventing one from fulfilling the neder. This case however does not appear to qualify since the ones is at the time of the neder. The Tosfot answer that in this case, the ones occurred after; e.g., the nazir became ill and consumption of wine became necessary. The Tosfot offer another answer that in this case, his heart and mouth were not aligned – he said he would be a nazir from wine, but in his heart he knew he could not. The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that in such a case it would be defined as nidrei shegagot (neder in error) and not nidrei onsin.

The Tifferet Yisrael however asks, that if we define the final case as nidrei shegagot such that the individual would not be a nazir, then in the second case, where the person did not know that a nazir is forbidden from drinking wine, he should certainly also not be a nazir. Why then in the second case do the Chachamim rule that he is a nazir and all the prohibitions apply.

The Tifferet Yisrael suggests in the second case, we have a principle that if one claims that something is permitted it is no longer considered shogeg (inadvertent) but rather closer to mezid (deliberate). Consequently, it similar to the first case where one declared they are a nazir on the condition that they can drink wine – and they are a considered a full nazir.

The Tifferet Yaakov however answers that in the first case claiming that he did not know that a nazir is not allowed to drink wine is irrelevant. The prohibitions of a nazir is not related to one's intentions but rather how the Torah defines a nazir. Consequently, if one declares that he wants to be a nazir, irrespective of how proficient he is in the laws of nazir, all of them apply to him. We find the same is true for a ger (convert). They are taught some of the mitzvot so they are aware of what being a Jew involves and can change their mind. Yet once they convert, once they accept the Ol Torah, everything that it involves applies. In the last case however, the person is fully aware of all the laws, however he was sure that given his circumstances the Chachamim would permit him to, e.g. drink wine. Thus the logic of the Tosfot would only apply to that case.

The Rosh (11b s.v Rabanan) however explains that the two cases are different. In the previous cases, where one tries to exclude a prohibition either knowingly or through lack of knowledge, it simply does not wok as we have already explained. In the final case however, when there is something beyond his control preventing him from accepting one of the prohibition of nazir (an ones) from the outset, then it would not be considered as taking on a nazir-oath.

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