When is a Nazir done?

Nazir (6:11) | Yisrael Bankier | 2 years ago

The Mishnah (6:11) discusses the case where a nazir completes his term of nezirut, has the blood of one of the three korbanot offered on the mizbeach and then becomes tameh met. Recall that if the nazir became tameh met during his nezirut, after going through the tahara process he would be required to restart his nezirut. In the case however, the Chachamim maintain that after he becomes tahor, the nazir can simply bring his remaining korbanot – his original term of nezirut is considered complete. R' Eliezer (as explained by the Bartenura) maintains that this case would be the same as if the nazir became tameh prior to offering any korbanot after completing his term. Consequently, the korbanot that were already offered would be considered void, and after he is tahor he would need to be bring all three korbanot.

The Bartenura explains that R' Eliezer here is consistent with his opinion that a nazir is forbidden from drinking wine prior to the korbanot being offered. This would also include the shaving of the nazir's head (see 6:7). The Bartenura draws a parallel between these two prohibitions of nazir and their dependency on the korbanot offered at the end of the nazir's term. The Tosfot (45b, s.v. ve'achar kach) also connects this Mishnah with the earlier one. After describing the offering of all the final korbanot, the Mishnah (6:9) adds, ".. and after that the nazir is permitted to drink wine and become tameh met". The Bartenura explains, that "after that" means after everything required of the nazir when he completes his term has been performed. The Tosfot explains, the Tana in that Mishnah agrees with R' Eliezer who requires all the korbanot to be offered first. That Mishnah continues with the opinion of R' Shimon who argues that it is sufficient for one of the korbanot to be offered, aligning with the opinion of the Chachamim in our Mishnah.

The Rambam (Nezirut 8:4) however begins by citing the first opinion of the earlier Mishnah: "… and after the kohen would take the cooked fore-leg from the ram (shelamim) and the one matzah loaf form the basket, and one cracker. He would place them on the hands of the nazir… and wave them. And after the nazir would be able to drink wine and become tameh met." The Rambam (8:5) however continues that if the korbanot were offered, but the nazir's hair was not shaved, that does not prevent the nazir from drinking wine or becoming tameh met". The Chazon Yechezkel (4:9) notes that the two statements of the Rambam appear to be contradictory. It is certainly not consistent with the explanation of the Tosfot above. When is the nazir allowed to drink wine and become tameh met?

Based on the Sifri Zuta, the Chazon Yechezkel explains that when the Torah state "and after the nazir may drink wine" it is to be understood as being the ideal way of performing the mitzvah (le'chatchila). From the addition of the vav (and) – "and after" – the Sifri Zuta explains that after the fact (be'dieved) the nazir would have been permitted to drink wine and become tameh met after the blood from even one of the korbanot was offered. The Chazon Yechezkel understands that the Rambam rules like the Sifri Zuta.

The Griz (on the Rambam) suggests that the Rambam is based on the Yerushalmi. It discusses the Mishnah that explains that once the blood from one of the korbanot have been offered for a woman who was a nezirah, the husband can no longer meifer her neder (see last week's article). R' Elazar initially explains that the Mishnah must be according to R' Shimon (above) who maintains that at that point, the prohibitions of nazir no longer apply. R' Yochanan however explains that the Mishnah could be even understood as being according to the Rabanan since they agree that at that point the negative prohibitions no longer apply. They argue with R' Shimon, preventing the nazir from cutting his hair at that point, since the positive mitzvah remains. The Griz explains that the positive mitzvah, "and after the nazir shall drink wine" is that one that endures. Unlike the explanation of the Tosfot, the Griz explains that this position argues with R' Eliezer since we learn (14), that according R' Eliezer all the prohibitions apply until the nazir's head is shaved. Consequently, according to the Griz the Rambam rules like the Rabbanan, in contrast to R' Eliezer and R' Shimon.

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