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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Nedarim - Chapter 13, Nezirut - Chapter 1, Nezirut - Chapter 2

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Nedarim - Chapter 13

1

A man may nullify or accept the [vows] of his wife or daughter in any language, even though she does not understand it, for the woman need not hear the nullification or the acceptance [of her vow].1

א

מפר אדם או מקיים דברי אשתו או בתו בכל לשון ואע"פ שאינה מכרת שאין האשה צריכה לשמוע ההפרה או הקיום:

2

How does he nullify [the vow]? He says: "It is nullified," "It is void," "This vow is of no consequence,"2 or uses other terms that imply that the vow is nullified from the outset, whether in the woman's presence or in her absence.

If, however, he tells her: "I cannot bear your taking a vow" or "This is not a vow," he did not nullify it.3 Similarly, if he tells his wife or his daughter: "[Your vow] is forgiven," "[It] is released," "[It] is absolved," or the like, his statements are of no consequence.4 For a father and a husband do not release a vow like a sage does, but instead, uproot the vow from the outset and nullify it.5

ב

וכיצד מפר אומר מופר או בטל או אין נדר זה כלום וכיוצא בדברים שענינם עקירת הנדר מעיקרו בין בפניה בין לאחריה אבל אם אמר לה אי אפשי שתדורי או אין כאן נדר הרי זה לא הפר וכן האומר לאשתו או לבתו מחול ליך או מותר ליך או שרוי ליך וכל כיוצא בענין זה לא אמר כלום שאין האב והבעל מתיר כמו החכם אלא עוקר הנדר מתחלתו ומפירו:

3

How does one express his acceptance of a vow? He says to her: "I uphold your vow," "It was good that you vowed," "There is no one like you," "Had you not taken the vow, I would have administered it to you," or any analogous statement that implies that he is happy with this vow.

ג

וכיצד מקיים כגון שיאמר לה קיים ליכי או יפה נדרת או אין כמותך או אילו לא נדרת הייתי מדירך וכל כיוצא בדברים שמשמען שרצה בנדר זה:

4

When a person voids the vows of his wife or daughter, it is not necessary for him to say anything6 and all of the vows are nullified.

ד

המבטל נדרי אשתו או בתו אינו צריך לומר כלום ונתבטלו כל הנדרים:

5

What is meant by voiding? That he forces her to do something that she forbade herself to do.7 Nullification, by contrast, does not involve forcing her. Instead, he nullifies the vow verbally and allows her [to do as she desires]. If she desires, she may act [in violation of the vow]. If she desires, she need not.8

ה

ומהו הביטול שיכוף אותה לעשות דבר שאסרה אותו אבל ההפרה אינו כופה אותה אלא מפר לה ומניחה אם רצתה עושה ואם רצתה אינה עושה:

6

What is implied? She took a vow or an oath not to eat or not to drink and he told her: "It is nullified for you." It is nullified and she is permitted to eat and to drink. If he took it and gave it to her, saying: "Take this and eat it," "Take this and drink," she may eat and drink and the vow is automatically nullified.9

ו

כיצד נדרה או נשבעה שלא תאכל או שלא תשתה ואמר לה מופר לך הרי זה הפר ומותרת לאכול ולשתות נטל ונתן לה ואמר לה טלי ואכלי טלי ושתי הרי זו אוכלת ושותת והנדר בטל מאליו:

7

When a person nullifies the vows of his wife or daughter, he must make a verbal statement of nullification. If he nullifies it within his heart, [the vow] is not nullified. When, however, he voids [their vows], he does not have to make a verbal statement. Instead, he nullifies the vow in his heart and compels her to perform [the deed]. Whether she performs it or not, the vow is nullified.

ז

המפר נדרי בתו או אשתו צריך להוציא בשפתיו ואם הפר בלבו אינו מופר אבל המבטל אינו צריך להוציא בשפתיו אלא מבטל בלבו בלבד וכופה אותה לעשות בין עשתה בין לא עשתה בטל הנדר:

8

We may nullify vows on the Sabbath, whether for the sake of the Sabbath10 or not.11 On the Sabbath, however, one should not, however, tell [his wife or daughter]: "[Your vow] is nullified," as one would say during the week.12 Instead, he should nullify [the vow] in his heart and tell her: "Take this and eat it," "Take this and drink," or the like.

ח

מפירין נדרים בשבת בין לצורך השבת בין שלא לצורך השבת ולא יאמר לה בשבת מופר ליך כדרך שאומר בחול אלא מבטל בלבו ואומר לה טלי אכלי טלי ושתי וכיוצא בזה:

9

When a person tells his wife or his daughter: "All the vows that you will take from now until I come from this and this place are upheld" or "...are nullified," his words are of no substance.13

If he appointed an agent to nullify her vows or to uphold them, his act is of no substance, as [implied by Numbers 30:14]: "Her husband will uphold them, her husband will nullify them." Similarly, her father must act on his own, not through an agent.

ט

האומר לאשתו או לבתו כל הנדרים שתדורי מכאן ועד שאבוא ממקום פלוני הרי הן קיימין או הרי הן מופרין לא אמר כלום עשה שליח להפר לה או לקיים לה אינו כלום שנאמר אישה יקימנו ואישה יפרנו וכן האב בעצמו ולא בשלוחו:

10

[When a woman takes a vow,] forbidding herself to [partake of] figs and grapes, whether through a vow or through an oath, whether she forbade herself from [partaking of] all types of the species or she said: "These figs and these grapes," if [her husband] upheld [the vow] concerning figs and nullified that concerning grapes or upheld [the vow] concerning grapes and nullified that concerning figs, what he upheld is binding and what he nullified is nullified. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. With regard to the nullification of a vow, we do not say that when a portion of a vow has been nullified, the entire vow is nullified, as is said with regard to the absolution of vows.14

י

אסרה עצמה בתאנים וענבים בין בנדר בין בשבועה בין שאסרה עצמה בכל המין בין שאמרה תאנים וענבים אלו וקיים לתאנים והפר לענבים או שקיים לענבים והפר לתאנים מה שקיים קיים ומה שהפר מופר וכן כל כיוצא בזה ואין אומרין בהפרה נדר שהופר מקצתו הופר כולו כדרך שאומרין בהתרה:

11

When a man's wife takes a vow and he hears it and extends the vow to apply to him,15 he cannot nullify it. [The rationale is that] he [already] upheld it.16If he took a vow and she extended it and applied it to herself, he may nullify her vow, but his vow is binding.

יא

מי שנדרה אשתו ושמע והתפיס עצמו בנדרה אינו יכול להפר שהרי קיים לה נדר הוא והתפיסה עצמה בנדרו מפר את שלה ושלו קיים:

12

What is implied? He heard his wife or his daughter say: "I am a nazirite," and said: "And I am also," he cannot nullify [her vow]17 and they are both nazirites.18 If he said: "I am a nazirite," and she heard and said: "And so am I," he may nullify her vow and his vow is still binding.19 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

יב

כיצד שמע אשתו או בתו אומרין הריני נזירה ואמר ואני אינו יכול להפר ושניהם נזירים אמר הוא הריני נזיר ושמעה היא ואמרה ואני מפר לה ושלו קיים וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

13

When a husband takes a vow and administers an identical vow to his wife, having made a certain decision to administer the vow to her, if she says Amen,20 he may not nullify it. If he took a vow and administered it to her as a question to see what she felt about it, e.g., he asked her "Do you desire to be like me [by taking] this vow or not?" If she says: Amen, he may nullify her vow.

יג

נדר לעצמו והדירה כמותו וגמר בלבו להדירה ואמרה אמן הרי זה אינו יכול להפר ואם נדר והדירה דרך שאלה לידע מה בלבה כמו שאמר לה התרצי בנדר זה להיות כמותי או לא ואמרה אמן הרי זה מפר לה:

14

What is implied? He said: "I am a nazirite and so are you," i.e., you are a nazirite just like me. If she says Amen, he may not nullify her vow.21

If he says: "I am a nazirite. What do you say? Will you be a nazirite like me?" If she says Amen, he may nullify her vow.22 If he nullifies her vow, his vow is also nullified. It is as if he made his vow dependent on her vow.23

If she told him: "I am a nazirite. What about you?", if he answered Amen, he cannot nullify [her vow].24 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

יד

כיצד אמר לה הריני נזיר ואת כלומר ואת נזירה כמותי ואמרה אמן אינו יכול להפר אמר לה הריני נזיר ומה תאמרי האת נזירה כמותי ואמרה אמן הרי זה יפר ואם הפר לה שלו בטל שזה כמי שתלה נדרו בנדרה אמרה לו הריני נזירה ואתה ואמר אמן אינו יכול להפר וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

15

[The following rules apply when] a woman takes a vow and another person extends the scope of the vow to include himself, saying "And I [as well]." If her father or husband hears of the vow and nullifies it, her vow is nullified, but that of the person who extended the vow is not.25

טו

האשה שנדרה ושמע אחר והתפיס עצמו בנדרה ואמר ואני ושמע אביה או בעלה והפר לה שלה מופר וזה שהתפיס עצמו חייב:

16

[The following rules apply concerning] a woman who is unmarried and not in her father's domain who says: "Meat will be forbidden to me after 30 days" and she marries within those 30 days. Even though she is in her husband's domain at the time the vow takes effect, he cannot nullify it. [The rationale is that] at the time the vow was taken she was not in his domain. Concerning such a situation, it was said [Numbers 30:10]: "The vow of a widow or a divorcee... shall remain standing." [This applies] even if she was consecrated to [her husband] at the time she took the vow, for a husband may not nullify26 [vows that were taken] before [the marriage is consummated], as we explained.27

טז

האשה שאין לה בעל ואינה ברשות אב ואמרה הרי הבשר אסור עלי לאחר שלשים יום ונשאת בתוך שלשים יום אף על פי שבשעה שחל הנדר הרי היא ברשות הבעל אינו יכול להפר שבשעת הנדר לא היתה ברשותו ועל זה נאמר ונדר אלמנה וגרושה וגו' ואפילו היתה מאורסת לו בשעת הנדר שאין הבעל מפר בקודמין כמו שבארנו:

17

[The following rules apply if a woman] took a vow while under her husband's domain that meat will become forbidden to her after 30 days or that she will become a nazirite after 30 days and her husband nullified her vow, but he died or divorced her within those 30 days. Although she will be a divorcee or a widow when the vow will take effect, she is not bound by it, because [her husband] already nullified this vow for her.28

יז

נדרה תחת בעלה שיהיה הבשר אסור עליה לאחר שלשים יום או שתהיה נזירה לאחר שלשים יום והפר לה בעלה ומת או גירשה בתוך שלשים יום אע"פ שבשעה שהיה לנדר לחול הרי היא גרושה או אלמנה הרי זו מותרת שכבר הפר לה נדר זה:

18

When a widow or a divorcee says: "Wine will be forbidden to me when I marry," [if] she marries, her husband cannot nullify the vow.29 [If a married woman says]: "I will be forbidden [to eat] meat when I am divorced," her husband may nullify the vow. When she is divorced, she is permitted [to eat meat].30

יח

אלמנה או גרושה שאמרה הריני אסורה ביין כשאנשא ונשאת אין הבעל יכול להפר אמרה והיא תחת בעלה הריני אסורה בבשר כשאתגרש הרי הבעל מפר וכשתתגרש תהיה מותרת:

19

When a husband upholds [his wife's vow] in his heart, it has been upheld.31 If he nullifies it in his heart, it is not nullified, as we explained.32 Therefore, if he nullifies it in his heart, he can still retract and uphold it. If, by contrast, he upheld it within his heart, he cannot retract and nullify unless he retracts immediately thereafter.33 [That leniency is granted] so that his thoughts within his heart should not have greater power than the statements he makes.34

יט

המקיים בלבו הרי זה קיים והמפר בלבו אינו מופר כמו שבארנו לפיכך אם הפר בלבו הרי זה יכול לחזור ולקיים ואם קיים בלבו אינו יכול לחזור ולהפר אלא אם חזר בתוך כדי דבור כדי שלא יהיו כח דברים שבלבו גדול מכח המוציא בשפתיו:

20

When a person upholds the vows of his daughter or his wife and then changes his mind, he may appeal to a sage to absolve him of his acceptance [of the vow].35 He may then recant and nullify it for her that day.36 If, by contrast, he nullifies it for her and then changes his mind, he cannot appeal to a sage to absolve it so that he can retract and maintain it.37

כ

המקיים נדרי בתו או אשתו וניחם הרי זה נשאל לחכם ומתיר לו הקמתו וחוזר ומפר לה בו ביום אבל אם הפר לה וניחם אינו יכול להשאל לחכם כדי שיחזור ויקיים:

21

When a consecrated maiden takes a vow and only one of her father or husband upholds her vow, while the other nullifies, even if the one who upheld the vow approaches a sage and has his acceptance absolved, he cannot recant and nullify the vow38 together with the one who has already nullified it. [The rationale is that] the two may only nullify [the vow] together.39

כא

נערה מאורסה שנדרה וקיים לה אביה לבדו או בעלה לבדו והפר לה האחר אע"פ שנשאל לחכם והתיר לו הקמתו אינו חוזר ומפר לה עם האחר שכבר הפר לה שאין להם להפר אלא שניהם כאחד:

22

If a man tells his daughter or his wife: "It is upheld for you. It is upheld for you," [even] if he asks to have the first acceptance absolved, the second one takes effect.40

If he tells her: "It is upheld for you. It is nullified for you, but the acceptance will not take effect until after the nullification does," [the vow] is nullified, because the acceptance does not take effect after the nullification.41

If, however, he tells her: "It is upheld for you and nullified for you at the same time,"42 it is upheld.43 If he tells her: "It is upheld for you today," it is upheld forever.44 If he tells her: "It is nullified for you tomorrow," it is not nullified, for he upheld it today and he cannot nullify it on the following day.45If he tells her: "It is upheld for you for one hour," and the day passed without him nullifying it, he has upheld it. We do not say that this is like one who said: "It is nullified for you after an hour," because he never verbally expressed its nullification.46

If he told her: "It is upheld for you for one hour," and after an hour, he told her: "It is nullified for you," there is an unresolved question [as to the ruling].47 Therefore she is forbidden in [the matters] her vow [concerned].48 If, however, she violated her vow, she is not punished by lashes.49

כב

אמר לבתו או לאשתו קיים ליך קיים ליך ונשאל על הקמה הראשונה הרי השניה חלה עליו אמר לה קיים ליך ומופר ליך ולא תחול הקמה אא"כ חלה הפרה הרי זה מופר שאין ההקמה מועיל אחר ההפרה אמר לה קיים ומופר ליך בבת אחת הרי זה קיים אמר לה קיים ליך היום הרי זה קיים לעולם אמר לה מופר ליך למחר אינו מופר שהרי קיימו היום ולמחר אינו יכול להפר אמר לה קיים ליך שעה אחת ועבר היום ולא הפר הרי זה קיים ואין אומרין שזה כמי שאמר לה הרי מופר ליך לאחר שעה שהרי לא הוציא הפרה מפיו אמר לה קיים ליכי שעה אחת וכשעברה השעה אמר לה מופר ליך הרי זה ספק ולפיכך אסורה בנדרה ואם עברה על נדרה אינה לוקה:

23

When a person takes vows in order to establish his character traits and correct his conduct, he is considered eager and praiseworthy. What is implied? If a person was a glutton and he [took a vow] forbidding meat for a year or two, a person was obsessed with wine and he [took a vow] forbidding himself from drinking wine for a prolonged period or he forbade himself from ever becoming intoxicated, a person would continually pursue illicit gain and was overexcited about wealth [took a vow] forbidding [accepting] presents or benefit from people in a particular country, similarly, a person who would be proud of his comely appearance and took a nazirite vow,50 or the like - all of these are paths in the service of God and concerning such vows and the like our Sages said:51 "Vows are a safeguard for restraint."52

כג

מי שנדר נדרים כדי לכונן דעותיו ולתקן מעשיו הרי זה זריז ומשובח כיצד כגון מי שהיה זולל ואסר עליו הבשר שנה או שתים או מי שהיה שוגה ביין ואסר היין על עצמו זמן מרובה או אסר השכרות לעולם וכן מי שהיה רודף שלמונים ונבהל להון ואסר על עצמו המתנות או הניית אנשי מדינה זו וכן מי שהיה מתגאה ביופיו ונדר בנזיר וכיוצא בנדרים אלו כולן דרך עבודה לשם הם ובנדרים אלו וכיוצא בהן אמרו חכמים נדרים סייג לפרישות:

24

Although [taking vows] is an element of the service of God, a person should not take many vows involving prohibitions and should not habituate himself to taking them.53 Instead, he should abstain from those things from which one should abstain without taking a vow.

כד

ואף על פי שהן עבודה (לשם) לא ירבה אדם בנדרי איסור ולא ירגיל עצמו בהם אלא יפרוש מדברים שראוי לפרוש מהן בלא נדר:

25

Our Sages stated:54 "Anyone who takes a vow is considered as having built a private altar."55 If he transgressed and took a vow, it is a mitzvah to ask [a sage] to absolve it,56 so that he will not have an obstacle before him.

When does the above apply? With regard to vows involving prohibitions. With regard to vows involving the consecration of articles, it is a mitzvah to uphold them and not to ask for their absolution unless one is [financially] pressed, as [Psalms 116:14] states: "I will fulfill my vows to God."

כה

אמרו חכמים כל הנודר כאילו בנה במה ואם עבר ונדר מצוה להשאל על נדרו כדי שלא יהא מכשול לפניו בד"א בנדרי איסר אבל נדרי הקדש מצוה לקיימן ולא ישאל עליהן אלא מדוחק שנאמר נדרי לה' אשלם:

Blessed be God who grants assistance.

סליקו להו הלכות נדרים בס"ד:

Footnotes
1.

See Chapter 12, Halachah 18, which explains that even if the woman intended to transgress, if her father or husband nullified the vow beforehand, she is not liable.

2.

Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:37) mentions the Rambam's view, it also mentions that of Rabbenu Asher who maintains that this last phrase is not effective in nullifying a vow.

3.

For his wording does not imply that the vow is nullified.

4.

I.e., although these expressions are effective for a sage when absolving a vow, they are not effective for a husband or a father.

5.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nedarim 13:8), the Rambam explains the statements he makes here. The term "nullify" implies nullifying an entity to the extent that it is as if it never existed. "Releasing," by contrast, implies that a connection existed, but it was released and will not have any effect in the future.

The Rambam's statements have aroused the attention of the commentaries for they appear to run contrary to the understandings of other authorities and the Rambam's own rulings. To explain: From Halachah 15 of this chapter and from Chapter 12, Halachah 19, it appears that until a father or a husband nullifies a vow, the vow is binding. Even when he nullifies it, the nullification affects only the future. See Hilchot Nazirut 9:11. When a sage absolves a vow, by contrast, it is as if the vow was never taken. See Hilchot Ishut 7:8-9, Hilchot Nazirut 3:10.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that the terminology employed by the Rambam here can be explained as follows: A sage does not "uproot" a vow, he causes it to be considered as if a vow not taken originally. A father or a husband, by contrast, uproot a vow, causing an entity that did exist to be nullified.

6.

I.e., the Rambam is making a distinction between hafarah, "nullification," and bittul, voiding as he proceeds to explain. See also his Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit.,, where he elaborates on the distinction between these two activities.

7.

E.g., if she took a vow not to drink wine, he causes her to drink wine.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam, maintaining that there is no concept of voiding a woman's vow by causing her to break it. Such concepts apply only with regard to servants. The Radbaz explains the Rambam's wording, stating that with regard to servants, it is necessary to actually compel them to break their vows. Such conduct is not appropriate with regard to one's wife or daughter. Nevertheless, if a husband or a father gently cause a woman to break their vow, that vow is nullified. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:39) mentions both views though it appears to favor the Ra'avad's view.

8.

I.e., since the vow has been nullified, she is under no obligation to keep it. On the other hand, she is not obligated to perform the act forbidden by the vow..

9.

Without him saying anything.

10.

I.e., she took a vow not to wear jewelry or not to partake of a particular food.

11.

Even though the vow has no connection to the Sabbath and it is forbidden to perform any activity for the weekdays on the Sabbath, we allow him to nullify it. The rationale is that, otherwise, he will not be able to nullify it on Saturday night, because the time for nullification will have already passed. As stated in Hilchot Sh'vuot 6:6, on the Sabbath, a sage may absolve only those vows that concern the Sabbath (Kessef Mishneh).

12.

Because it is the Sabbath, it is preferable to change the wording one uses. Even if one uses this wording during the week, the vow is nullified, as indicated by Halachah 6.

13.

This concept is also derived from the prooftext cited below. Until a vow comes into existence and can be upheld, it cannot be nullified (Turei Zahav 234:28).

14.

See Chapter 4, Halachah 11, Chapter 8, Halachah 6. The rationale is that a sage nullifies the vow from the outset, causing it to be considered as if it were never taken. Therefore the entire vow is considered as a single entity. A husband, by contrast, nullifies a vow as it exists. Hence, each element of the vow can be considered independently.

The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:36). The Tur and the Rama differ and maintain that a husband must also nullify the entire vow. Once a portion of a vow is upheld, the vow cannot be nullified.

15.

See Chapter 3, Halachah 3, for an explanation regarding the convention of extending a vow.

16.

For by attaching himself to her vow, he shows that he considers it a viable entity.

17.

As Nedarim 3a states, the laws that apply to the nullification of other vows also apply to the nullification of nazirite vows.

18.

For the reason mentioned in the previous halachah.

19.

For his vow is not at all dependent on hers.

20.

She must, however, state her consent, for he cannot compel her to take a vow against her will. See Chapter 2, Halachah 1.

21.

He is forbidden to nullify his wife's vow, because by doing so, his own vow would be nullified as stated in the conclusion of the halachah. Since he is forbidden to cause his own vow to be nullified, he is forbidden to nullify her vow (see Nazir 22b).

22.

For his commitment is not dependent on hers at all. Even if she refuses to accept a nazirite vow, he is obligated to keep his vow. Hence, his right to nullify her vow is intact.

23.

This refers to the first clause. It is as if he made his vow and her vow a single statement. Thus nullifying her vow would cause his vow also to be nullified. This is forbidden, because he is bound to uphold his vow. Nevertheless, after the fact, if he does nullify her vow, his vow is also nullified (Radbaz). See the Nekudot HaKessef [to Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:54)] who explains that the Rambam's version of Nazir 22b follows the Jerusalem Talmud and differs from the standard text of the Babylonian Talmud.

24.

As stated in Halachah 11.

25.

The rationale for this ruling is that the husband's nullification affects the vow only from the time he made it onward. It does not nullify it from the outset. Hence, any extension of a vow that was made before the vow is nullified is binding [Radbaz; Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:51)].

26.

I.e., alone, without the nullification of the father (Chapter 11, Halachah 10).

27.

Chapter 11, Halachot 20, 22.

28.

I.e., whether or not his nullification takes effect depends on their relationship at the time he nullifies the vow (Nedarim 89a).

29.

Because he cannot nullify the vows that were taken before marriage, as explained above.

30.

Here also, what is important is the woman's status at the time of the vow and not what her status will be when the vow takes effect.

31.

As stated in Chapter 12, Halachah 18, when a husband remains silent throughout the day, his wife's vow is upheld. This is a sign that his tacit acceptance of a vow is sufficient for it to be binding (Rabbenu Nissim).

32.

As stated in Halachah 7, he must make a verbal statement of nullification. If, however, he voids his wife's vow, her nullification is not binding, as stated in Halachot 4-5.

33.

This term has a specific halachic definition: the time it takes a student to tell his teacher: Shalom Elecha Rabbi (Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17).

34.

Since a person can nullify a vow or an oath if he retracts within this time, he may certainly retract his acceptance of his wife's oath in thought.

35.

I.e., just as he can appeal to a sage to absolve him of a vow he took, so, too, he may absolve his acceptance of a vow.

36.

I.e., the day he changed his mind, even if it is several days afterwards, is equivalent to the day he heard of his wife's vow. Since he cannot have his acceptance nullified unless he changes his mind, the days when he does not change his mind are considered equivalent to days when he does not know of the vow [Tur (Yoreh De'ah 234)].

There are other Rishonim who maintain that he can ask the sage to have his acceptance absolved only on the day he heard of the vow. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 234:49) mentions both vows without indicating which one should be favored. The Rama maintains that we should be stringent and follow the second view.

37.

Upholding a vow is considered equivalent to taking a vow. Hence, just as a vow can be absolved, the acceptance of one can be absolved. The nullification of a vow, by contrast, cannot be considered as a vow and cannot be absolved. The Radbaz adds that if the person does not know that he can have his acceptance absolved, the day he finds out that information is equivalent to the day he heard of the vow.

38.

The Siftei Cohen 234:16 states that this applies even if he has the acceptance absolved on the day he hears of the vow.

39.

Even if the first one nullified the vow again so that they make a combined statement, their nullification is not accepted.

40.

At the time he stated his acceptance of the vow a second time, his acceptance was of no consequence, because it was unnecessary. Nevertheless, after he nullifies his first acceptance, the second acceptance becomes significant.

41.

As stated in Halachah 20.

42.

The Radbaz states that this ruling applies even if he does not add the words "at the same time."

43.

The two statements cancel each other out. It is as if he remained silent and the vow is therefore upheld. The Kessef Mishneh explains that the Rambam's rationale is that since the nullification cannot take effect after the vow is upheld, it cannot take effect if it is made simultaneously with the upholding of the vow.

44.

Since, as the Rambam states later on, he did not verbally express his nullification of the vow, it remains binding even after the day passes.

45.

For a vow must be nullified on the day, the man heard about it. In his Nekudot HaKessef, the Siftei Cohen explains that the Rambam's wording implies that he may nullify it that day. The Turei Zahav 234:39-40, however, infers that he cannot nullify it at all once it takes effect for that day.

46.

The instances cited by the Rambam are questions posed by Nedarim 69b, 70a. Since the Talmud continues asking questions, using one instance as a springboard for another, following the pattern of im timtzeh lomar, the Rambam concludes that each of the instances used as a basis for a further question is accepted as halachah (Kessef Mishneh).

47.

This is the last of the series of instances concerning which the Talmud asks in that passage.

48.

Lest her vow in fact be binding.

49.

Because punishment is not given when we are uncertain whether a prohibition exists.

50.

This requires him to allow his hair to grow untrimmed and thus will prevent him from beautifying his appearance. See Nedarim 9b which relates that Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach would almost never partake of the sacrifices of a nazirite. Once, however, he saw a particularly handsome young man who had taken a nazirite vow. He asked him why he had done so and the young man explained that, because of his good looks, he was being tempted by his evil inclination. To rise above the temptation, he took the nazirite vow. Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach praised him for his actions.

51.

Avot 3:13.

52.

In his commentary to that mishnah, the Rambam explains that "taking and maintaining vows to abstain from certain [undesirable] elements [of conduct] ingrains in a person the tendency to bridle the desires he seeks to curb. This tendency will continue and it will be easy for him to acquire the quality of restraint - i.e., the tendency to protect oneself from impurity." See also Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, the conclusion of ch. 48, which discusses the Divine service associated with taking and maintaining vows.

Nevertheless, the Rambam is not praising restraint as a mode of conduct that is always desirable. On the contrary, in Hilchot De'ot 3:1, he explains that a nazirite is called "a sinner" because he abstains from wine and states:

Our Sages directed man to abstain only from those things which the Torah denies him and not to forbid himself permitted things by vows and oaths. Thus our Sages (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:1) asked rhetorically: "Are not the things which the Torah has prohibited sufficient for you? [Why] must you add further prohibitions?"

In the instances mentioned here, however, the person taking the vow is not doing so because he thinks that abstinence is desirable. Instead, he wishes to develop self-control and inner discipline and feels that taking a vow is an effective means to encourage him to do so.

53.

Lest he not keep the vow, and in this way transgress.

54.

Nedarim 22a.

55.

During the time the Sanctuary stood at Shilo and from the time the Temple was built in Jerusalem afterwards, it was forbidden to offer sacrifices on private altars. Similarly, taking a vow is considered undesirable and comparable to building such an altar. Rabbenu Nissim explains the comparison based on the passage from Hilchot De'ot cited above, i.e., just as a person who builds a private altar offers a sacrifice to God in an undesirable manner, so, too, a person who takes a vow adds a restriction that the Torah does not require him to observe.

56.

As explained in ch. 4.

Nezirut - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Nezirut

They contain ten mitzvot: two positive commandments and eight negative commandment. They are:

1. That a nazirite should let his hair grow long;
2. That he should not cut his hair throughout the time of his nazirite vow;
3. That a nazirite should not drink wine, nor a mixture of wine, not even vinegar coming from wine;
4. That he not eat fresh grapes;
5. That he not eat raisins;
6. That he not eat grape seeds;
7. That he not eat grape peels;
8. That he not enter a shelter where a corpse is located;
9. That he not contract impurity because of a corpse;
10. That he shave [his skin] and [bring] his offerings when he completes his nazirite vow or when he becomes impure.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות נזירות - הקדמה

הלכות נזירות יש בכללן עשר מצות שתי מצות עשה ושמנה מצות לא תעשה וזה הוא פרטן:

(א) שיגדל הנזיר פרע
(ב) שלא יגלח שערו כל ימי נזרו
(ג) שלא ישתה הנזיר יין ולא תערובת יין ואפילו חומץ שלהם
(ד) שלא יאכל ענבים לחים
(ה) שלא יאכל צמוקים
(ו) שלא יאכל חרצנים
(ז) שלא יאכל זגין
(ח) שלא יכנס לאהל המת
(ט) שלא יטמא למתים
(י) שיגלח על הקרבנות כשישלים נזירותו או כשיטמא

וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

A nazirite vow is one of the types of vows involving prohibitions,1as [Numbers 6:2] states: "When one will take a nazirite vow...." It is a positive commandment for [a nazirite] to let the hair of his head grow,2 as [ibid.:5] states: "He shall let the mane of the hair of his head grow." If he cuts [his hair] in the midst of the days of his nazirite vow, he violates a negative commandment,3 as [ibid.] states: "A razor shall not pass over his head." Similarly, he is forbidden to contract ritual impurity from a corpse4 or eat those products of a grape vine which the Torah forbids him from eating5 throughout the entire span of his nazirite vow.6

א

הנזירות הוא נדר מכלל נדרי איסר שנאמר כי ידור נדר נזיר וגו' ומצות עשה שיגדל שער ראשו שנאמר גדל פרע שער ראשו ואם גילח בימי נזרו עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר תער לא יעבור על ראשו וכן אסור להטמא למתים או לאכול דברים שאסרן הכתוב עליו מגפן היין כל ימי נזרו:

2

When [a nazirite] transgressed and cut his hair, became impure [due to contact with a corpse], or partook of wine grapes, he receives two sets of lashes:7one because of the prohibition "He shall not desecrate his word,"8 and one because of the prohibition that he transgressed from the unique prohibitions that apply to a nazirite.9

ב

עבר וגלח או נטמא או אכל מגפן היין הרי זה לוקה שתים אחת משום לא יחל דברו שכולל כל הנדרים ואחת משום דבר שעבר עליו מדברים שאסורין איסור מיוחד על הנזיר:

3

When a person takes a nazirite vow and fulfills his vow according to the mitzvah, he has performed three positive commandments: a) "He shall act in accordance with all that he uttered with his mouth,"10 and he has acted [accordingly], b) "He shall let the mane of the hair of his head grow," and he has let it grow, and c) shaving and bringing his sacrifices,11 as [ibid.:18] states: "And the nazirite shall shave at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting."

ג

נדר בנזיר וקיים נדרו כמצותו הרי זה עושה שלש מצות עשה האחת ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה והרי עשה והשניה גדל פרע שער ראשו והרי גדל והשלישית תגלחתו עם הבאת קרבנותיו שנאמר וגלח הנזיר פתח אהל מועד וגו':

4

When a person says: "I will not depart from the world until I become a nazirite," he becomes a nazirite immediately, lest he die at that time. If he delays [implementing] his nazirite vow, he transgresses the prohibition:12 "Do not delay in paying it." Lashes are not given for the violation of this prohibition.13

ד

האומר לא אפטר מן העולם עד שאהיה נזיר הרי זה נזיר מיד שמא ימות עתה ואם איחר נזירותו הרי זה עובר בבל תאחר לשלמו ואין לוקין על לאו זה:

5

With regard to a nazirite vow, we do not say: [The vow does not take effect] until he makes a statement that every person would be able to understand [that] in his heart [he desired to take a nazirite vow]. Instead, since he made a decision in his heart to take a nazirite vow and verbally expressed concepts that suggest this intent, he is a nazirite although these concepts are distant and [their simple meaning] does not communicate the concept of a nazirite vow.14

ה

אין אומרין בנזירות עד שיוציא בשפתיו דבר שמשמעו אצל כל העם כענין שבלבו אלא כיון שגמר בלבו והוציא בשפתיו דברים שעניינם שיהיה נזיר אע"פ שהן עניינות רחוקות ואף על פי שאין במשמען לשון נזירות הרי הוא נזיר:

6

What is implied? A nazirite was passing in front of a person and he said: "I will be," he is a nazirite. Since in his heart, he intended to say that he will be like that person, [it is considered as if he made such a statement] even though he did not explicitly say: "I will be like him." Similarly, if he took hold of his hair15 and said: "I will become attractive," "I will grow my hair," "I will cultivate my hair,"16 "I will let my hair grow long," he is a nazirite, provided he made such a decision in his heart.

ו

כיצד הרי שהיה נזיר עובר לפניו ואמר אהיה הרי זה נזיר הואיל ובלבו היה שיהיה כמו זה ואע"פ שלא פירש ואמר אהיה כמו זה וכן אם אחז בשערו ואמר אהיה נאה או אהא מכלכל או אהא מסלסל או שאמר הריני מסלסל או הריני מכלכל או הרי עלי לשלח פרע הרי זה נזיר והוא שיגמור בלבו להזיר:

7

If he says: "I am obligated to bring doves [as offerings],17 he is not a nazirite even if a nazirite is passing in front of him and even if he had the intent of becoming a nazirite. It is as if he did not say anything.18

ז

אמר הרי עלי צפרים אף על פי שהיה נזיר עובר לפניו ואע"פ שהיה בלבו להזיר אינו נזיר והרי זה כמי שלא הוציא בשפתיו כלום:

8

All nicknames for a nazirite vow are considered like a nazirite vow.

What is implied? In places where people mispronounce the words they use, if one says: "I am a nazik, a naziach, a paziach,19 he is a nazirite."

ח

כל כנויי נזירות כנזירות כיצד מקומות העלגים שמשנין את הדבור ואמר שם הריני נזיק נזיח פזיח הרי זה נזיר:

9

If a person says: "I am a nazirite only with regard to grape seeds" or "...with regard to grape peels," "I am a nazirite with regard to shaving," or "I am a nazirite only with regard to impurity," he is a nazir in the complete sense and he must keep all the particular laws incumbent on nazirites even though his inten was to forbid himself only with regard to the particular he mentioned. Since the matter concerning which he took the nazirite vow is forbidden to nazirites, he is a nazirite in the full sense of the term.20

ט

האומר הריני נזיר מן החרצנים בלבד או מן הזגים בלבד או הריני נזיר מן התגלחת או הריני נזיר מן הטומאה בלבד הרי זה נזיר גמור וכל דקדוקי נזירות עליו ואף על פי שלא היה בלבו להזיר אלא מדבר זה בלבד הואיל ודבר שנזר ממנו אסור על הנזירים הרי זה נזיר גמור:

10

If, however, one says: "I am a nazirite from dried figs," "...from cakes of dried figs," or the like, he is forbidden [to partake of] the article specified, but he is not a nazirite.21

י

אבל האומר הריני נזיר מן הגרוגרות או מן הדבילה וכיוצא בהן הרי זה אסור בהן ואינו נזיר:

11

When a cup of wine was mixed22 for a person and given to he to drink and he said: "I am a nazirite from it," he is a nazirite in the complete sense.23 If he was a morose person, angry, or in mourning and the others were trying to have him drink to release his burden and he said: "I am a nazirite from this [cup]," he is forbidden to drink only that cup, but he is not a nazirite. [The rationale is that] his intent was only that he would not drink that cup.

יא

מזגו לו כוס של יין ונתנו לו לשתות ואמר הריני נזיר ממנו הרי זה נזיר גמור ואם היה מר נפש או כעוס או מתאבל והיו מבקשין ממנו שישתה כדי לשכח עמלו ואמר הרי זה נזיר ממנו הרי זה אסור באותו הכוס בלבד ואינו נזיר שלא נתכוון זה אלא שלא ישתה כוס זה:

12

Similarly, if a drunken man was given a cup to make him totally inebriated and he said: "I am a nazirite from it," he is forbidden to drink only that cup, but he is not a nazirite. [The rationale is that his intent was] only that they should not have him become overly drunk. If he was as drunk as Lot24 his statements are of no consequence and he is not liable for any transgression that he performs. For when he reaches a state of inebriation equivalent to Lot's, he is not liable at all.25

יב

וכן שכור שנתנו לו כוס כדי לרוותו ואמר הרי זה נזיר ממנו הרי זה אסור באותו הכוס בלבד ואינו חייב בנזירות שלא נתכוון זה אלא שלא ישכרו אותו יותר מדאי ואם הגיע לשכרותו של לוט אין דבריו כלום ואינו חייב על כל עבירה שיעשה שמשהגיע לשכרותו של לוט אינו בן חיוב:

13

When a person says: "I am a nazirite on the condition that I can drink wine," "...become impure because of contact with the dead," or "...cut my hair,"26 he is a nazirite and is forbidden to perform all of the above. [The rationale is that] he made a stipulation against what is written in the Torah and whenever one makes a stipulation against what is written in the Torah, the stipulation is nullified.27

יג

האומר הריני נזיר על מנת שאהיה שותה יין או מטמא למתים או מגלח שערי הרי זה נזיר ואסור בכולם מפני שהתנה על מה שכתוב בתורה וכל המתנה על הכתוב בתורה תנאו בטל:

14

When a person takes a nazirite vow and [afterwards] says: "I did not know that a nazirite was forbidden to partake of wine..., "...to become impure," or "...to cut hair. Had I known this, I would not have take the vow," he is a nazirite and is obligated in all these prohibitions. [The rationale is that] he knows that he is obligated in at least one of these [prohibitions] and as we explained,28 even if one took a [nazirite] vow, forbidding only one of these acts, he is forbidden in all of them.29

יד

נדר בנזיר ואמר לא הייתי יודע שהנזיר אסור ביין או בטומאה או בתגלחת ואילו הייתי יודע כן לא הייתי נודר הרי זה נזיר וחייב בכולם שהרי הוא היה יודע שאסר עצמו באחד משלשת מינין וכבר בארנו שאפילו לא נדר אלא מאחד מהם אסור בכולן:

15

If the person says: "I know that a nazirite is forbidden in all of the above, but I thought that it would be permitted for me to drink wine, because I cannot live without wine," or "[I thought that I would be permitted to become impure,] because I bury the dead," he is not a nazirite,30 because his vow is included in the category of vows made in error31 which need not be absolved by a sage, as we explained.32

טו

אמר יודע הייתי שהנזיר אסור בכל אלו אבל היה בדעתו שמותר לי לשתות אני היין מפני שאיני יכול לחיות בלא יין או מפני שאני קובר את המתים הרי זה אינו נזיר מפני שאלו בכלל נדרי שגגות שאינם צריכין שאלה לחכם כמו שבארנו:

16

When a person says: "My hand is a nazirite" or "My foot is a nazirite," his words are of no consequence. If, however, he says: "My head is a nazirite" or "My liver is a nazirite," he is a nazarite." This is the general principle: Whenever a person designates as a nazirite an organ upon whose removal33 from a living person would cause him to die, he is a nazirite.34

טז

האומר הרי ידי נזירה הרי רגלי נזירה לא אמר כלום הרי ראשי נזיר כבדי נזירה הרי זה נזיר זה הכלל כל אבר שאם ינטל מן החי ימות אם אמר הרי הוא נזיר הרי זה נזיר:

17

When a person says: "I will be a nazirite when a ben is born to me," if a son is born to him, he is a nazirite. If, however, a daughter, a tumtum,35 or an androgynus36 is born to him, he is not a nazirite.37

If he says: "I will be a nazirite when offspring is born to me," even if a daughter, a tumtum, or an androgynus is born to him, he is a nazirite. If his wife miscarries, he is not a nazirite. If she becomes pregnant again and gives birth, he is a nazirite.38

יז

האומר הריני נזיר כשיהיה לי בן אם נולד לו בן זכר הרי זה נזיר אבל אם נולדה לו בת או טומטום או אנדרוגינוס אין זה נזיר אמר הריני נזיר כשיהיה לי ולד אפילו נולד לו בת או טומטום ואנדרוגינוס הרי זה נזיר הפילה אשתו אינו נזיר חזרה ונתעברה וילדה הרי זה נזיר:

Footnotes
1.

Thus it is governed by the laws mentioned in the previous set of halachot. As mentioned in the beginning of Hilchot Nedarim, there are two types of vows: vows involving prohibitions and vows taking on an obligation to bring sacrifices. A nazirite vow also involves bringing sacrifices, as will be explained. Nevertheless, it is considered primarily a vow involving prohibitions (Radbaz).

2.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 92) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 374) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

3.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 209) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 373) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

4.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandments 207-208) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvot 375-376) include two prohibitions involving this matter among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. See Chapter 5 which describes this prohibition.

5.

This includes prohibitions against drinking wine and eating fresh grapes, raisins, grape seeds, and grape peels. Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 202-206) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvot 368-372) include five prohibitions against partaking of these grape products among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

6.

The Radbaz explains that the Rambam does not mention these prohibitions in the order that they are mentioned in the Torah, not in the order that they are mentioned in the Mishnah. The rationale is that the mitzvah of letting one's hair grow is mentioned first because it involves both a positive and a negative commandment.

7.

For with his deed, he has violated two of the Torah's prohibitions.

8.

Which applies with regard to the violation of all vows, as stated in Hilchot Nedarim 1:5.

9.

If he violates his nazirite vow in several ways, e.g., he eats grapes and becomes impure, he receives lashes according to the number of violations involved (Radbaz).

10.

I.e., the commandment to observe the vows one takes. See Hilchot Nedarim 1:4.

11.

Which is done at the fulfillment of one's nazirite vow. Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 93) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 377) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. See Chapter 8 which describes this procedure.

12.

Deuteronomy 23:22. As the Rambam states in Hilchot Arachin VaCharamim 1:1, this prohibition applies to any person who delays keeping the vows and pledges he makes. He does not, however, list this prohibition as one of the 613 mitzvot in these halachot, but instead, in Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot (in the introduction to those halachot and in Chapter 14, Halachah 13).

See also Hilchot Arachin 6:33 which uses this law as support for the principle that a pledge to perform a mitzvah is considered as a vow.

13.

For as stated in Hilchot Sanhedrin 18:2, lashes are not given for the violation of a prohibition that does not involve a deed. Note, however, Chapter 5, Halachah 21.

14.

This concept, which the Rambam illustrates in the following halachot, expresses the principle (see Nedarim 5b) that yadot nedarim, literally "handles of vows," are considered equivalent to vows themselves.

15.

According to the Rambam, when he makes such statements while holding his hair, it is not necessary that a nazirite pass in front of him for his statement to be binding.

16.

The Hebrew uses two expressions to communicate this and the previous concept. Our translations for these terms are taken from Rav Kappach's translation of the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Nazir 1:1).

17.

The offering a nazirite would bring if he became impure (see Numbers 6:10).

18.

I.e., with regard to a nazirite vow. Since it is possible that his statement meant that he intended to offer the doves as a sacrifice, it is not considered as implying a nazirite vow. From the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.), it appears that the person is liable to bring these doves as a voluntary offering. It is questionable if here the Rambam is negating that implication.

19.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam writes that gentiles who lived among the Jewish people would mispronounce the word nazir in this manner. As such, there would be some Jews who would make similar mistakes. See parallel concepts in Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:5, Hilchot Nedarim 1:16.

20.

I.e., since he used the term "nazirite" and the object which he mentioned is forbidden to nazirites, the nazirite restrictions all take effect. Note the contrast to the following halachah.

21.

Because the term nazirite does not apply with regard to those objects.

22.

I.e., in the Talmudic era, the wine was very strong. Hence it was customary to mix water into wine before serving it.

23.

I.e., the situation is comparable to those described in Halachah 9.

24.

Who became so drunk that he lost all consciousness of his actions. See Genesis, ch. 19.

25.

I.e., he is considered like a mentally and emotionally incapable person (a shoteh). See Hilchot Ishut 4:18, Hilchot Mechirah 29:18.

26.

I.e., he seeks to avoid keeping one or more of the obligations of the nazirite vow although he will keep the others.

27.

This is a general principle applying in many aspects of Torah law, e.g., Hilchot Ishut 16:9.

28.

In the previous halachah.

29.

The Ra'avad states that if a person would approach a sage and ask him to absolve his nazirite vow on these grounds, the sage would certainly consent. We are speaking about an instance when the person seeks to have the vow nullified without consulting a sage because it was taken in error. The Radbaz states that the Rambam would also accept this ruling. The Kessef Mishneh, however, does not accept this explanation.

30.

He need not observe any of the nazirite prohibitions, even the ones he had intended to observe.

31.

The Ra'avad considers this as a vow which a person is prevented from keeping by forces beyond his control, citing Nazir 11b which appears to support this interpretation. The Kessef Mishneh and the Radbaz state that while the actual wording of the Talmud fits the Ra'avad's interpretation, the Rambam's explanation can be justified. [Significantly, in his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nazir 2:4), the Rambam uses the wording suggested by the Ra'avad.]

32.

Hilchot Sh'vuot 3:6; Hilchot Nedarim 4:1.

33.

The Or Sameach notes that the Rambam changes slightly the wording of his source, Nazir 21b, based on his ruling in Hilchot Shechitah 8:16. There the Rambam writes that if an animal is born without a liver it may live, but if it was born with a liver and then the liver was removed, it is treifah.

34.

For it is considered as if he took the vow upon his entire person. Compare to Hilchot Arachin 2:1; Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 15:2; Hilchot Mechirah 27:8.

35.

A person whose genital area is covered by a piece of flesh and it is impossible to detect his gender.

36.

A person with both male and female sexual organs (Hilchot Ishut 2:24-25).

37.

Although the term ben can be translated as "offspring," its specific meaning is "son." Hence the Rambam rules in this manner.

38.

The fact that his wife miscarried in the interim does not negate the vow.

Nezirut - Chapter 2

1

When a person takes a nazirite vow inadvertently,1 is compelled to take one by forces beyond his control,2 takes one in order to encourage a colleague,3 or takes one while making exaggerated statements,4 he is exempt as is the law concerning other vows.

When a person takes a nazirite vow and regrets having taking it, he may approach a sage and ask him [to absolve it]. He may release his nazirite vow in the same way he releases other vows.5

א

הנודר בנזיר בשוגג או באונס או שנדר לזרז חבירו או דרך הבאי הרי זה פטור בשאר נדרים ומי שנדר בנזיר וניחם על נדרו הרי זה נשאל לחכם ומתיר לו נזירותו כדרך שמתירין שאר הנדרים:

2

[The following rules apply when a person] took a nazirite vow and went to brings his sacrifices for that vow with the intent that he will bring them on the completion of the days of his vow, but discovered that either all of the animals or one of them were stolen. If he took the nazirite vow before the animal was stolen, he is a nazirite.6 If he took the nazirite vow after [an animal] was stolen, lost, or died, he is not a nazirite. It is as if he took a nazirite vow in error.7

ב

מי שנדר בנזיר והלך להביא קרבנותיו שנזר על דעת שיביאם במלאת ימי נזרו מצאן שנגנבו או נגנבה בהמה מהן אם עד שלא נגנבה הבהמה נזר הרי זה נזיר ואם אחר שנגנבה או שאבדה או שמתה נזר אינו נזיר שזה נזר בטעות:

3

When a person extends a nazirite vow,8 he is a nazirite, as we explained with regard to the laws concerning the extension of other vows.9

ג

המתפיס בנזירות הרי זה נזיר כמו שבארנו בדין כל המתפיס בנדר:

4

If a nazirite was passing before him and he said: "I am like him," he is a nazirite.10 If a colleague of his took a nazirite vow and he said: "My mouth is like his mouth with regard to wine"11 or "My hair is like his hair with regard to cutting it,"12 he is a nazirite. Similarly, if he heard him [take a nazirite vow] and said: "And also I" immediately thereafter,13 [he is a nazirite]. And if a third person said: "And also I" immediately after the second person's statement - even if this continues for 100 individuals14 - they are all nazirites.

ד

היה נזיר עובר לפניו ואמר הריני כזה הרי זה נזיר נדר חבירו בנזיר ואמר הוא פי כפיו מיין או שאמר שערי כשערו מלהגזז הרי זה נזיר וכן אם שמע ואמר ואני בתוך כדי דבור [ושמע שלישי בתוך כדי דבור] של שני ואמר ואני ואפילו הן מאה כולן נזירין:

5

If a person says: "I will be a nazirite when a son will be born to me," and his colleague says: "And also I," his colleague becomes a nazirite immediately.15

ה

האומר הריני נזיר כשיהיה לי בן וחבירו אמר ואני הרי חבירו נזיר מיד:

6

When a person tells a colleague: "I will be a nazirite when a son will be born to you," and his colleague says: "And also I," [his colleague does not become] a nazirite. [The rationale is that] the latter person only had the desire to say that he would love for a son to be born to him to the same degree as the first does. For he is embarrassed in his presence.16

ו

האומר לחבירו הריני נזיר כשיהיה לך בן ושמע חבירו ואמר ואני אין זה נזיר שלא נתכוון זה האחרון אלא לומר שאני אוהב שיהיה לך בן כמו זה שהרי הוא בוש ממנו:

7

When a person says: "I will be a nazirite when a son will be born to so-and so,"17 and his colleague heard his statement and said: "And also I," there is an unresolved question concerning the matter. Perhaps his colleague's intent was to become a nazirite like him18 or perhaps he wanted to say that he loved him like the other person did. When there is a question whether a nazirite vow takes effect, we rule leniently.19

ז

האומר הריני נזיר כשיהיה לפלוני בן ושמע חבירו ואמר אני הרי זה ספק שמא לא נתכוון אלא להיות נזיר כמותו או לומר שאני אוהב אותו כמותך וספק נזירות להקל:

8

[A nazirite vow can take effect in the following situation.] Two people were walking on the road and saw another person approaching them. One of the said: "The person approaching us is Shimon." The other said: "He is Reuven." The first replied: "I will become a nazirite if it is Reuven" and the second responded: "I will become a nazirite if it is Shimon." If he reaches them and he is Reuven, [the first] is a nazirite. If it is Shimon, the second is a nazirite as per the vows. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. If the person did not reach them, but instead turned backward and disappeared from their sight and they did not discover his identity, neither of them are nazirites.20

ח

שנים שהיו מהלכים בדרך וראו אחד בא כנגדן ואמר אחד מן השנים זה ההולך כנגדנו שמעון הוא ואמר חבירו ראובן הוא ואמר זה הריני נזיר אם יהיה ראובן ואמר האחר הריני נזיר אם יהיה שמעון הגיע אליהם והרי הוא ראובן הרי זה נזיר ואם היה שמעון הרי חבירו נזיר כמו שנדרו וכן כל כיוצא בזה לא הגיע אליהם אלא חזר לאחוריו ונעלם מעיניהם ולא ידעו מי הוא אין אחד מהן נזיר:

9

Similarly, when a person says: "I will be a nazirite if there will be 100 kor21 in this grainheap," if when he goes to measure it, he discovers that [some of the produce] was stolen or lost, he is not a nazirite.22 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations. [The rationale is that] When there is a question about whether a nazirite vow takes effect, we rule leniently.

ט

וכן האומר הריני נזיר אם יהיה בכרי זה מאה כור והלך למודדו ומצאו שנגנב או שאבד אינו נזיר וכן כל כיוצא בזה שספק נזירות להקל:

10

All [of the people who took nazirite vow in the following situation] are nazirites. Several people] were walking on the road and saw a ko'i23from a distance. One said: "I will be a nazirite if that is a wild beast." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if that is a domesticated animal." Another said:24 "I will be a nazirite if that is not a wild beast." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if that is not a domesticated animal." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if that is neither a wild beast, nor a domesticated animal." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if that is both a wild beast and a domesticated animal." [The rationale is that] in certain matters,25 a ko'i resembles a wild beast. In other matters, it resembles a domesticated animal. In still other matters, it resembles both a wild beast and a domesticated animal and in still other matters, it resembles neither a domesticated animal, nor a wild beast.

Similar laws apply if they saw an androgynus and argued whether the person was a man or a woman and took vows similar to those mentioned with regard to a ko'i. They are all nazirities, because there are matters26 in which an androgynus resembles a man, matters where the resemblance is to a woman, matters in which there is no resemblance to either a man or a woman, and matters in which there is a resemblance to both a man and a woman.

י

היו מהלכין בדרך וראו את הכוי מרחוק ואמר אחד מהם הריני נזיר שזה חיה ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שזה בהמה ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין זה חיה ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין זה בהמה ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין זה לא חיה ולא בהמה ואמר אחד הריני נזיר שזה בהמה וחיה הרי כולם נזירים מפני שהכוי יש בו דרכים שוה בהן לחיה ויש בו דרכים שוה בהן לבהמה ויש בו דרכים שוה לחיה ולבהמה ויש בו דרכים שאינו שוה לא לבהמה ולא לחיה והוא הדין אם ראו אנדרוגינוס ונחלקו בו אם הוא איש או אשה ונדרו על דרך שנדרו אלו בכוי הרי כולם נזירים שהאנדרוגינוס יש בו דרכים שוה בהן לאיש ודרכים שוה בהן לאשה ודרכים שאינו שוה בהן לא לאיש ולא לאשה ודרכים שהן שוין לאיש ולאשה:

11

All of the above applies to the person's status with regard to the mitzvot and not with regard to his nature and physical characteristics. Similarly, the factors involving a ko'i apply with regard to the mitzvot and not with regard to its nature and physical characteristics.

What is implied? [When] a ko'i [is slaughtered, its] blood must be covered as the blood of a wild beast must.27 Its fat is forbidden as is the fat of a domesticated animal.28 It is considered a union of mixed species if it is mated with either a domesticated animal or a wild beast,29 as if it were neither a wild beast or a domesticated animal. And it must be ritually slaughtered as is required for both a domesticated animal or a wild beast. Similarly, there are other halachic considerations that apply with regard to it and they will all be explained in their appropriate place.30

Similarly, an androgynus becomes impure because of a seminal emission like a man and because of uterine bleeding like a woman.31 He cannot be sold as a Hebrew servant, [differing in this way] from both a man and a woman.32 And a person who kills him is executed like one who kills either a man or a woman. There are also other laws applying to him. Each one will be stated in its place.33

יא

וכל הדרכים האלו בעניני המצות ולא בטבעו ותולדתו וכן דרכי הכוי בעניני המצות לא בטבעו ותולדתו כיצד דמו טעון כיסוי כחיה וחלבו אסור כבהמה והרי הוא כלאים עם הבהמה וכן עם החיה כאילו אינה חיה ולא בהמה וטעון שחיטה כבהמה וחיה ויש בו דרכים אחרים וכל אחד מהן יתבאר במקומו וכן אנדרוגינוס מטמא בלובן כאנשים ומטמא באודם כנשים ואינו נמכר בעבד עברי לא כאנשים ולא כנשים וההורגו נהרג עליו כאנשים וכנשים ויש בו דינים אחרים וכל אחד יכתב במקומו:

12

Similar [laws apply]34 if [several people] saw a group of men approaching them which contained sighted people and blind people. One said: "I will be a nazirite if they are sighted people." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if they are not sighted people." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if they are blind." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if they are not blind." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if among them are sighted people and blind people." Another said: "I will be a nazirite if among them are those who are not sighted people and those who are not blind." Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

יב

וכן אם ראו אנשים באים כנגדם מהם פקחים ומהם סומים ואמר אחד הריני נזיר שאלו פקחין ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין אלו פקחין ואמר אחר הרי אני נזיר שאלו סומין ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין אלו סומין ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאלו פקחין וסומין ואמר אחר הריני נזיר שאין אלו לא פקחין ולא סומין הרי כולם נזירים וכן כל כיוצא בזה:

13

When a minor reaches the age when his vows are of consequence35and he takes a nazirite vow, he is a nazirite and must bring his sacrifices36 even though he has not manifested signs of physical maturity, as he [must uphold] his other vows.

A father may administer a nazirite vow to his son who is underage even though he has not reached the age when his vows are of consequence. A woman, by contrast, may not administer a nazirite vow to her son.37 This is a concept conveyed by the Oral Tradition. It does not apply with regard to other vows.

יג

קטן שהגיע לעונת נדרים ונדר בנזיר הרי זה נזיר ומביא קרבנותיו ואף על פי שעדיין לא הביא שתי שערות כשאר הנדרים והאיש מדיר את בנו קטן בנזיר אע"פ שלא בא לעונת נדרים ואין האשה מדרת את בנה בנזיר ודבר זה הלכה מפי הקבלה הוא ואינו נוהג בשאר נדרים:

14

What is implied? A father told his son who was a minor: "You are a nazirite"; he said: "My son, so-and-so, is a nazirite;" or he said, [pointing to his son,] "He is a nazirite," and the son remained silent,38 the son is a nazirite. The father must have him conduct himself according to all the particulars of the nazirite laws.39 If [the son] becomes impure, he must bring the sacrifices [associated with the termination] of impurity. When he completes his nazirite vow, he must bring the sacrifices [required when a nazirite vow is completed in] purity.40

יד

כיצד האב שאמר לבנו הקטן הרי אתה נזיר או שאמר בני פלוני נזיר או הרי זה נזיר ושתק הבן הרי זה נזיר וחייב האב לנהוג בו כל דקדוקי נזירות ואם נטמא מביא קרבן טומאה וכשישלים נזירותו מביא קרבן טהרה כשאר הנזירים הגדולים:

15

If the son did not desire this and objected to the matter,41 his relatives objected,42 he cut off his hair, or his relatives cut off his hair - thus performing a deed that indicates that either he or his relatives did not desire the nazirite vow,43 he is not a nazirite.44 Until when may his father administer a nazirite vow to him? Until he attains majority,45 and becomes an adult.

טו

לא רצה הבן ומיחה בדבר זה או שמיחו קרוביו או שגלח שערו או שגלחוהו קרוביו שהרי נעשה מעשה שגלה דעתו שלא רצה הוא או קרוביו בנזירות זו הרי זה אינו נזיר ועד מתי יש לו להדירו עד שיגדיל ויעשה איש:

16

The concept of a nazirite vow does not apply to gentiles, for [Numbers 6:2]46 "Speak to the children of Israel."

טז

העכו"ם אין להן נזירות שנאמר דבר אל בני ישראל:

17

The concept of a nazirite vow does apply to women and servants.47A father or a husband may nullify a nazirite vow taken by a woman if he so desires as is the case with regard to other vows.48 With regard to a servant, [to nullify his nazirite vow,]49 his master must compel him to drink [wine] or become impure due to contact with the dead. If he does not compel him,50 he must observe the nazirite vow.

יז

נשים ועבדים יש להן נזירות והאב או הבעל מפר נזירות האשה אם רצה כשאר הנדרים אבל העבד יש לרבו לכוף אותו לשתות ולהטמא למתים ואם לא כפה אותו נוהג נזירות:

18

When a servant takes other vows that involve personal aggravation or that prevent his performance of work or makes a valuation assessment,51 his master does not have to compel him [to act against the vow to nullify it].52 [The rationale is that the servant] is not the owner of his self and he cannot cause a vow to take effect regarding his person. To what can the matter be compared? To a person who [takes a vow] forbidding produce belonging to another person to the owner of that produce.53

If, however, a vow does not involve personal aggravation and it is not a matter which holds back work, [the master] cannot compel him [not to observe it].54

If a servant took a nazirite vow and his master told him: "It is nullified for you," [when] he receives his freedom,55 he is obligated to complete his nazirite vow.56 [The rationale is that] a servant must be compelled to nullify his vow. We do not nullify it verbally. If one nullifies it verbally, he is granted his freedom.

יח

נדר העבד שאר נדרים שיש בהן עינוי נפש או שמעכבין את המלאכה או שהעריך אין רבו צריך לכופו מפני שאין נפשו קנויה לו ולא יחול עליו נדר למה הדבר דומה לאוסר פירות אחרים עליהם אבל אם אין שם עינוי ולא דבר שמעכב מלאכה אינו יכול לכופו נדר עבדו בנזירות ואמר לו מופר לך יצא לחירות וחייב להשלים נזירותו שהעבד כופין אותו ואין מפירין לו ואם הפר יצא לחירות:

19

When a servant took a nazirite vow and fled from or abandoned his master,57 he is forbidden to drink wine. [This measure was enacted so that] he would suffer difficulty and return to his master's domain.58

If he took a nazirite vow, completed it, and shaved,59 without his master knowing of this, and afterwards, was granted his freedom, he is considered to have satisfied the requirements of his nazirite vow.60 If, however, he took a nazirite vow, but did not shave, and was granted his freedom, he is not considered to have fulfilled his nazirite vow.61 If he became impure and then was granted his freedom, he must begin reckoning [the days of his nazirite vow] from the time he became impure.62

יט

עבד שנדר בנזירות וברח או שהלך מרבו הרי זה אסור לשתות יין כדי שיצטער ויחזור לרשות רבו נזר והשלים נזירותו וגלח ולא ידעו רבו ואח"כ יצא לחירות הרי זה יצא ידי נדרו אבל אם נדר ולא גלח ויצא לחירות לא יצא ידי נדרו נטמא ואחר כך יצא לחירות מונה משעה שנטמא:

20

Nazirite vows must be observed both while the Temple is standing and while the Temple was not standing. Therefore when a person takes a nazirite vow in the present era, he must observe it forever,63 because we do not have a Temple where he can go and offer his sacrifices at the conclusion of his nazirite vow.

כ

נזירות נוהגת בפני הבית ושלא בפני הבית לפיכך מי שנדר בנזיר בזמן הזה הרי זה נזיר לעולם שאין לנו בית כדי שיביא קרבנותיו במלאת ימי נזרו:

21

A nazirite vow may be observed only in Eretz Yisrael.64When a person takes a nazirite vow in the Diaspora, he is penalized and obligated to ascend to Eretz Yisrael65 and observe his nazirite vow there for as long as he vowed.66 Accordingly, when a person takes a nazirite vow in the Diaspora in the present era, we compel him to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and observe his nazirite vow there67 until he dies or until the Temple is built and he brings his sacrifices there at the conclusion of the span of his vow.

כא

אין הנזירות נוהגת אלא בארץ ישראל ומי שנזר בחוצה לארץ קונסין אותו ומחייבין אותו לעלות לארץ ישראל ולהיות נזיר בארץ ישראל כמנין הימים שנזר לפיכך מי שנדר בזמן הזה בחוצה לארץ כופין אותו לעלות לארץ ישראל ולהיות נוהג שם נזירות עד שימות או עד שיבנה המקדש ויביא קרבנותיו במלאת ימי נזרו:

22

Throughout the entire time he is in the Diaspora, he is forbidden to drink wine, to become impure due to contact with the dead, and to cut his hair.68 He must uphold all of the requirements stemming from a nazirite vow, despite the fact that the days are not counted for him. If he transgressed and drank [wine], cut his hair, or touched a corpse or the like,69 he is liable for lashes.

כב

וכל זמן שהוא בחוצה לארץ הרי זה אסור לשתות יין ולהטמא למתים ולגלח וכל דקדוקי נזירות עליו ואע"פ שאין ימים אלו עולין לו ואם עבר ושתה או גלח או נגע במת וכיוצא בנגיעה לוקה:

Footnotes
1.

E.g., he said: "I will be nazirite if I ate today," and he was under the impression that he had not eaten, but in fact he had eaten (Nedarim 25b). See Hilchot Nedarim 8:3 and Chapter 1, Halachah 15.

2.

I.e., people compelled him to take the nazirite vows. See Hilchot Nedarim 4:1.

3.

He said: "I will be a nazirite if you do not eat at my home." See Hilchot Nedarim 4:3.

4.

He said: "I will be a nazirite if I did not see an army as numerous as the Jewish people when they left Egypt." See Hilchot Nedarim 4:1; Hilchot Sh'vuot 3:5.

5.

See Hilchot Nedarim 4:5.

6.

We do not automatically say: Had he known that the animal would have been stolen he would not have taken the vow. If, however, he asks a sage to absolve the vow on this account, it is absolved. See Hilchot Nedarim 8:5; Hilchot Sh'vuot 6:12.

7.

I.e., his vow was taken on a false assumption, for he believed that he possessed these animals. See Hilchot Nedarim 8:3.

8.

I.e., as illustrated in the following halachah, he states that a nazirite vow taken by a colleague should also apply to him.

9.

Hilchot Nedarim 3:3.

10.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 5.

11.

I.e., "just as he is forbidden to drink wine, so am I."

12.

I.e., "just as he is forbidden to cut his hair, so am I."

13.

This term refers to a specific span of time, the time it takes to say: Shalom Elecha Rebbi (Hilchot Sh'vuot 2:17).

14.

I.e., each one speaking immediately thereafter his colleague.

15.

In contrast to the person who took the vow who does not become a nazirite until the child is born (Chapter 1, Halachah 17). This is the conclusion the Rambam derives from the discussion of the issue in Nazir 13a. The Ra'avad offers a different interpretation of the passage. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh justify the Rambam's understanding.

16.

I.e., were he not to make such a statement, it would appear that he does not have genuine love for him. Because of the above, we say that his vow was not made sincerely and he never intended to become a nazirite.

17.

In contrast to the situation described in the previous halachah, in this instance, the person mentioned in the nazirite vow was not present when the vow was taken.

18.

Since the person was not present, we feel that it is less likely that his statements were made merely to make an impression (see Nazir 13a).

19.

The rationale is that at the time of the completion of the vow, the person is required to offer sacrifices. Were his vow not to have taken effect, he would be slaughtering non-sacrificial animals in the Temple courtyard which is forbidden (Rabbenu Nissim).

20.

Because as stated at the conclusion of the previous halachah, if there is a doubt where a nazirite vow is binding, we rule leniently.

21.

A dry measure used in the Talmudic period equivalent to 30 se'ah (Hilchot Arachin 4:4).

22.

For he desired the nazirite vow to take effect only if there was the said amount of grain in the grain heap.

23.

A ko'i is a hybrid born from breeding a deer and a goat. There is an unresolved question among our Sages if it is considered as a domesticated animal (behemah) or a wild beast {(chayah) the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Bikkurim 2:8}. In Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 1:13, he states that the term refers to any hybrid that comes from mating a domesticated animal with a wild beast.

24.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nazir 5:6), the Rambam states that if one person made all these statements, he is obligated to fulfill an equivalent number of nazirite vows.

25.

See the following halachah where the Rambam elaborates on these points.

26.

See the following halachah where the Rambam elaborates on these points.

27.

See Hilchot Shechitah 14:4.

28.

See Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 1:13.

29.

See Hilchot Kilayim 9:5.

30.

See Hilchot Shechitah 12:8-9; Hilchot Bikkurim 9:5; 10:7; Hilchot Sha'ar Avot HaTumah 1:6, et al.

31.

I.e., either semen or the secretion of a zav. See Hilchot Mita'amei Mishkav UMoshav 1:7; Hilchot Mechusarei Kapparah 3:7.

32.

See Hilchot Avadim 4:1.

33.

See Hilchot Tzitzit 3:9; Hilchot Yibbum VeChalitzah 6:8; Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 22:11, et al.

34.

Note the Radbaz who offers an explanation why all three illustrations of the principle are necessary.

35.

I.e., twelve for a male and eleven for a female. He or she must also be aware of the One for whose sake they are taking vows (Hilchot Nedarim 11:1-4).

36.

The Ra'avad questions this ruling, noting that there are authorities who maintain that the obligation for a minor to keep his vow is Rabbinic in origin. According to their view, it would be forbidden for the minor to bring a sacrifice, for that would be bringing non-sacramental animals as offerings. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh maintain that those authorities follow a minority position.

37.

The commentaries discuss this issue, noting that seemingly, the prophetess Chanah administered a nazirite vow to her son Samuel. They explain that although the inspiration for the vow came from Chanah, it was actually administered by Elkanah, Samuel's father.

38.

I.e., his silence is considered as acceptance. If, however, he refuses to become a nazirite, he is not bound by his father's statements, as stated in the following halachah.

39.

See Chapter 6, Halachot 3, 11.

40.

See Chapter 8, Halachah 1.

41.

The Kessef Mishneh and the Radbaz refer to the difference of opinion between Rashi and Tosafot (Nazir 28b) whether the objection must be made immediately or whether they can be made throughout the span of the nazirite vow. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Nazir 4:6), the Rambam espouses the view shared by Tosafot that once the son began observing the nazirite vow, he cannot object to it.

42.

The Minchat Chinuch (mitzvah 368) writes that if the child agrees to observe the nazirite vow, it is binding even if the relatives object.

43.

See the Or Sameach who debates whether drinking wine is also considered a deed which registers the son's objections.

44.

For his father's authority over him is not absolute.

45.

Becomes thirteen years old and manifests signs of physical maturity (Hilchot Ishut 2:2; see the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, loc. cit.).

46.

The verse which introduces the laws of a nazirite vow. By addressing the passage to Jews, the Torah indicates that it does not apply to gentiles.

47.

Numbers 6:2 specifically mentions a woman taking a nazirite vow. With regard to servants, Nazir 62b explains how this concept can be explained by Biblical exegesis.

48.

See Hilchot Nedarim, chs. 11-13.

49.

We are speaking about a Canaanite servant who is his master's property. Accordingly, vows he takes are dependent on his master's consent as indicated by the following halachah.

50.

I.e., with regard to a servant, a verbal nullification of the nazirite vow is not sufficient. The master must physically compel him not to observe it.

51.

See Hilchot Arachin 1:2.

52.

I.e., as the Rambam continues to explain, the vow is void without the master having to take any action at all.

53.

According to the Rambam (based on Nazir 62b) , there are four different rulings with regard to vows or oaths a servant takes:

a) All oaths and valuation assessments that a servant takes are nullified automatically. The rationale is that "his body is not his property so that the oath he takes will be effective. With regard to oaths, [Numbers 30:3] states: 'forbid something upon one's soul.' [Implied is that the verse applies to] someone whose soul is his property. It excludes a servant who is someone else's property" (Hilchot Sh'vuot 12:6).

b) Vows other than a nazirite vow that are either aggravating or prevent the servant from working are automatically nullified. The rationale is that, with regard to an oath, Leviticus 5:4 states: "Whether he will do harm or do good." Implied is that he can take an oath - or a vow, because an association is established between vows and oaths - only when he has the choice of either doing good or doing harm to himself. This does not apply to these oaths. Since they harm his master, he has no right to take them.

c) Nazirite vows are not automatically nullified, because the association with vows does not apply with regard to them. Nevertheless, since the servant belongs to his master, the master has the right to nullify his vow.

d) Vows other than a nazirite vow that are neither aggravating nor prevent the servant from working must be fulfilled. The rationale is that in contrast to an oath in which the prohibition is incumbent on the servant (the gavra), for a vow, the prohibition falls upon the object (the cheftza). Since there is no harm to the master involved, such vows can take effect.

54.

Since the master does not suffer any loss, there is no reason that the vow should not take effect.

55.

When a master desires to nullify a vow taken by his servant, he must physically compel him to break it, as mentioned above. If he does not do so, but instead, verbally nullifies it, he is indicating that he no longer considers his servant as having that status, but has freed him. See parallels in Hilchot Avadim 8:17.

Based on a different version of Nazir 62b, the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam and does not agree that verbally nullifying a servant's vow is an indication that he must be freed. The commentaries support the Rambam's understanding.

56.

For the verbal nullification made by his master is of no consequence.

57.

Fleeing from his master is not equivalent to attaining his freedom (Radbaz).

58.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, noting that Nazir 9:1 mentions that this issue is the subject of a difference of opinion between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yossi. Generally, in such instances, the halachah follows Rabbi Yossi and yet the Rambam follows Rabbi Meir's view. The Radbaz explains that the fact that Nazir 61a concludes by mentioning Rabbi Meir's view indicates that the halachah follows his opinion. The Kessef Mishneh suggests (- this, however, is not borne out by the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah -) that the Rambam's text of the mishnah read opposite to the standard version. Others support the Rambam's ruling, based on Tosafot who states that the halachah follows Rabbi Meir with regard to his decrees.

59.

I.e., completed the process required of a nazirite at the conclusion of his vow.

60.

We do not say that since the vow was fulfilled without the knowledge of his master, its fulfillment is of no consequence. Although his master could have nullified his vow, since in fact he did not do so, it is considered significant (Radbaz).

61.

I.e., he must begin counting the days of his nazirite vow anew as a free man, without counting the days during which he observed as a servant.

The rationale why these days are not counted is that since he did not complete his vow (by shaving), the status of the vow is left open. For at any time, his master could compel him to drink wine and nullify his vow. As such, he is never considered to have completed a valid nazirite vow. Although the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, the commentaries justify his approach.

62.

I.e., he does not bring a sacrifice as would a free man who became impure in the midst of his nazirite vow. Instead, he begins his nazirite vow anew when he becomes pure after he attains his freedom.

63.

See Chapter 3, Halachah 12, for a description of how this vow is observed.

64.

This is not a point of Scriptural Law. Instead, the rationale is that since our Sages decreed that the Diaspora - its earth and even its air - conveys ritual impurity, a nazirite cannot observe his vow there (Nazir 54a; see Hilchot Tuma'at Meit 11:1).

65.

So that he can observe his nazirite vow in purity.

66.

Nazir 19b, 20a relates that Queen Heleni took a vow that if her son would return safe from a war, she would be a nazarite for seven years. She observed her vow and came to the Temple to offer her sacrifices. The School of Hillel ruled that she should remain in Eretz Yisrael and observe her vow for another seven years, for the time she observed it in the Diaspora was not counted.

67.

The Ra'avad questions what purpose will be served by ascending to Eretz Yisrael in the present era. We are all impure because of contact with a human corpse (or impurity that results from that) and there are no ashes from the red heifer to purify ourselves. If so, what difference is there between Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora? In neither place, will one be able to complete his nazirite vow in purity. Hence, the Ra'avad concludes, it is forbidden to take a nazirite vow in the present age, whether in the Diaspora or in Eretz Yisrael.

The Radbaz states that although we are ritually impure, abiding in the Diaspora increases that impurity. Hence, it is preferable for one who takes a nazirite vow to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. The Kessef Mishneh goes further and states that since a person can prevent himself from coming into contact with the ritual impurity associated with a corpse, there is no prohibition against taking a nazirite vow in the present age.

68.

See the parallel in Chapter 6, Halachah 7, for parallels.

69.

For even though we are all ritually impure at present, a nazirite who is impure who comes in contact with a corpse is liable for lashes for each time he comes in contact (Chapter 5, Halachah 17).

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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