Nasso 5780

June 3, 2020

Parshat Naso 5780

 

Why does the Nazir offer a Chatos on completion of his Nezirut?

 

וְהִקְרִיב אֶת קָרְבָּנוֹ לַה’ כֶּבֶשׂ בֶּן שְׁנָתוֹ תָמִים אֶחָד לְעֹלָה וְכַבְשָׂה אַחַת בַּת שְׁנָתָהּ תְּמִימָה לְחַטָּאת וְאַיִל אֶחָד תָּמִים לִשְׁלָמִים: (נשא ו:יד).

 

The Sages[1] were troubled as to why the Nazir brings a sin offering. Surely a Nazir accepts extra kedusha and is called an איש קדוש. They answer that he is guilty of depriving himself of wine and this is considered sinful. So inspite of the fact that he is certainly attains a high level of holiness by his abstention, he is still punished for committing an act of sin for the very same act which brings kedusha. Tosafot[2] points out that on balance the mitzvah outweighs the sin. When the Torah writes that the Nazir is required to atone for his sin, וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו מֵאֲשֶׁר חָטָא עַל הַנָּפֶשׁ[3] although this would seem to refer only to the Nazir who has been in contact with tuma, nonetheless it also refers to the Nazir Tahor[4]. The reason it is written only in the context of the Nazir Tomei is because he has committed a double sin. He has made the vow to become a Nazir and he has in addition become tomei. However, the kaporoh is also required for a Nazir Tahor.

 

Ramban[5] offers his own interpretation for this paradox “al derech hapshat”. He answers that since he has elevated himself to a high level of sanctity in the service of Hashem, it would be appropriate for him to remain permanently at that high level, to remain a Nazir permanently for the rest of his life as the Novi Amos says

ואקים מבניכם לנביאים ומבחוריכם לנזירים[6]

“and I will raise your children to be prophets and your youth to be Nazirites”. The verse equates the Nazir to the Navi. The Nazir is considered to be

כל ימי נזרו קדוש הוא לה’[7]

“kadosh to Hashem throughout his period of Nezirut. Hence he requires atonement for abandoning a life of holiness and returning to a mundane existence. It is for this reason “al pi haphshat” that he is required to bring a sin offering to atone for surrendering this life of kedusha for a life of tumoh enjoying worldly pleasures.

 

Alshich Hakodosh comments on the wording of the possuk.

ואחר ישתה הנזיר יין[8].

After (the termination of the Nezirut) the Nazir may drink wine. Surely, after the Nezirut has finished he is no longer a Nazir so why does the verse say after it is all over the Nazir may drink wine. He is not a Nazir anymore!

Answers the Alshich, even after the end of the Nezirut, when he resumes drinking wine, he is still called a Nazir, since the impact of being a Nazir should remain with him for the rest of his life.

 

Meshech Chochmo[9] comments that although “prishut” can be praiseworthy, nonetheless a Nazir is deprived from performing such mitzvot as burying relatives and kidush and havdala on wine. He therefore requires expiation for depriving himself of the performance of these mitzvot. The korbanot he brings are comparable to those brought by the Nesiim at the consecration of the sanctuary’ which are special offerings of dedication – chinuch. So also the Nazir is required to bring korbanot of chinuch as a dedication to the mastering of his mundane desires.

 

We are all enduring a period of enforced isolation. Social distancing, us a form of “prishut”, a form of denial from some worldly pleasures and pursuits. This should give us pause for thought, and enable us to attain higher levels of kedusha. The test will be to learn from this experience and retain this higher level when we return to more normal conditions. Will we be able to continue at that level of sanctity when the deprivation brought about by social separation no longer exists?

 

 

Chaim Zundel Pearlman

Emeritus Rabbi of the Machzikei Hadath Synagogue

& Rosh Beit Midrash Hendon

 

 

 

 

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[1] Nedarim 10a (also Nazir 19a, & 22a, Taanit 11a and Bava Kama 91b).

[2] Nazir 2b see also Rabeinu Tam in Tosafot Bava Kama 91b.

[3] Naso 6,11.

[4] Nazir 19a see Rashi ad locum. See also Shito Mekubetzes Nedarim 10a ודריש קרא הכי מאשר חטא חד על הנפש הרי תרי.

[5] Naso 6,14.

[6] Amos 2,11.

[7] Nso 6,8.

[8] Naso 6,20.

[9] Naso 6,14.