A Nazir's Money

Meilah (3:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 13 years ago

At the end of a person’s self-imposed nezirut, he must bring three sacrifices – chatat (sin-offering), olah (burnt-offering) and shlamim (peace-offering). The first two sacrifices fall under the category of kodshei kodshim, while the third is kodshei kalim. We have already learnt in this masechet that the laws of meilah apply differently to these two categories of korbanot. For kodshei kodshim the prohibition applies from the moment of dedication, while for kodshei kalim the prohibition of meilah only applies to the sacrificial parts and only once the blood of sacrifice has been cast by the mizbeach.

A Mishnah (3:2) deals with a sum of money that has been set aside for the korbanot of a Nazir. The Mishnah rules that if the money has been set aside as a lump sum, without specifying which coins will be used for each korban then the prohibition of meilah does not apply to these coins, “because [the coins] are all able to be used for a korban Shlamim.”

There are two explanations in the Rishonim for why the prohibition of meilah does not apply to any of the coins. Rashi (Meilah 11a) explains that since one could say that any of the coins used were the ones set aside for the purpose of a Shlamim and, as explained above, meilah does not apply to kodshei kalim, consequently the law of meilah does not apply. He then pre-empts the question that one could equally argue that each of the coins could be used for a korban Olah. Nonetheless the money of a korban Shlamim is mixed amongst these coins. Therefore if we do not consider the possibility that the coins used could have been for a Shlamim and rule that the person has violated the prohibition of meilah, then it is possible that that person then brought an unsanctified animal and slaughtered it in the Beit Ha’Mikdash, as he would really not have violated the prohibition and not being obligated to bring the korban.

The Tosfot (ibid. Nazir 24b) however understands the reason provided by the Mishnah differently. The prohibition of Meilah does not apply because all of the coins may be used for a korban Shlamim. The rest of the funds for the remaining korbanot can be added at a later time.22

The Tosfot Yom Tov provides a practical difference between these two opinions. According to Rashi, who reasons that the exemption is based on a doubt, if one used all the coins for personal use, then there is no longer a doubt that he has violated the prohibition. However according to the Tosfot, since all the coins can be used for a korban Shlamim, the exemption applies even if all the coins were used.23

The continuation of the Mishnah presents a possible problem for the understanding of the Tosfot. The Mishnah explains that if this Nazir dies after separating the coins in the manner described above, then they are all used for public voluntary offerings. The Gemara (Nazir 25a) questions this ruling. How can the money be used for any purpose if mixed in with this money are coins set aside for the purpose of a korban chatat whose owner has passed away. Normally such money cannot be used for any purpose. R’ Yochanan responds that the ruling for this case is a Halacha LeMoshe MiSinai.

Implicit in the Gemara’s question is the understanding that the coins included a mixture of all three korbanot. How then can the Tosfot reason that they can all be used for the purpose of a Shlamim? The Tosfot Yom Tov provides a few answers. One is that the owner may only add to the funds and decide that the money currently set aside should be used for one korban only while he is alive. Once he however passes away, then what ever funds have been set aside are now for all three korbanot. Alternatively, the difference between the two cases stated in the Mishnah is what the Nazir stipulated at the time he separate the money. The first case is where he separates the money stating that they were “for my korbanot”. In such a case there is flexibility as to how the coins will ultimately be used. The latter case is where he stated that the money is to be used for “my korbanot Nazir” (or “obligatory korbanot”). In that case, the money is fixed and must be used for all three korbanot and we have a mixture of three.24

22: From the starting verses (diburei ha’matchil) it appears that Rashi and Tosfot (both in Meilah and Nazir) had different versions of the Mishnah which would also explain their opinions. Rashi’s version is "לפי שהן ראוין להביא בכולן שלמים" (“in all of them Shlamim”) while Tosfot’s is "כולן שלמים" (“all of them Shlamim”).

23: See the Shoshanim Le’David who disagrees with the Tosfot Yom Tov’s understanding of Rashi.

24: See the Tosfot Yom Tov who prefers this latter explanation as he feels that it fits the wording of the Mishnah better.


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