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

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:


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


הַנְּזִירוּת הוּא נֵדֶר מִכְּלַל נִדְרֵי אִסָּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ו ב) "כִּי יִדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר" וְגוֹ'. וּמִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁיְּגַדֵּל שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ו ה) "גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ". וְאִם גִּלֵּחַ בִּימֵי נִזְרוֹ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ו ה) "תַּעַר לֹא יַעֲבֹר עַל רֹאשׁוֹ". וְכֵן אָסוּר לְהִטָּמֵא לַמֵּתִים אוֹ לֶאֱכל דְּבָרִים שֶׁאֲסָרָן הַכָּתוּב עָלָיו (במדבר ו ד) "מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן" (במדבר ו ד) (במדבר ו ח) "כָּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ":


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


עָבַר וְגִלֵּחַ אוֹ נִטְמָא אוֹ אָכַל מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה שְׁתַּיִם. אַחַת מִשּׁוּם (במדבר ל ג) "לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ" שֶׁכּוֹלֵל כָּל הַנְּדָרִים. וְאַחַת מִשּׁוּם דָּבָר שֶׁעָבַר עָלָיו מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁאֲסוּרִין אִסּוּר מְיֻחָד עַל הַנָּזִיר:


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."


נָדַר בְּנָזִיר וְקִיֵּם נִדְרוֹ כְּמִצְוָתוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלֹשׁ מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה. הָאַחַת (במדבר ל ג) "כְּכָל הַיֹּצֵא מִפִּיו יַעֲשֶׂה" וַהֲרֵי עָשָׂה. וְהַשְּׁנִיָּה (במדבר ו ה) "גַּדֵּל פֶּרַע שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ" וַהֲרֵי גִּדֵּל. וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁית תִּגְלַחְתּוֹ עִם הֲבָאַת קָרְבְּנוֹתָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ו יח) "וְגִלַּח הַנָּזִיר פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד" וְגוֹ':


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


הָאוֹמֵר לֹא אֶפָּטֵר מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד שֶׁאֶהֱיֶה נָזִיר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר מִיָּד שֶׁמָּא יָמוּת עַתָּה. וְאִם אֵחֵר נְזִירוּתוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּבַל (דברים כג כב) "תְּאַחֵר לְשַׁלְּמוֹ" וְאֵין לוֹקִין עַל לָאו זֶה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


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


אֵין אוֹמְרִין בִּנְזִירוּת עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו דָּבָר שֶׁמַּשְׁמָעוֹ אֵצֶל כָּל הָעָם כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁבְּלִבּוֹ. אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁגָּמַר בְּלִבּוֹ וְהוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו דְּבָרִים שֶׁעִנְיָנָם שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נָזִיר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן עִנְיָנוֹת רְחוֹקוֹת וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בְּמַשְׁמָעָן לְשׁוֹן נְזִירוּת הֲרֵי הוּא נָזִיר:


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.


כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁהָיָה נָזִיר עוֹבֵר לְפָנָיו וְאָמַר אֶהְיֶה הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר הוֹאִיל וּבְלִבּוֹ הָיָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כְּמוֹ זֶה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרֵשׁ וְאָמַר אֶהְיֶה כְּמוֹ זֶה. וְכֵן אִם אָחַז בִּשְׂעָרוֹ וְאָמַר אֶהְיֶה נָאֶה אוֹ אֱהֵא מְכַלְכֵּל אוֹ אֲהָא מְסַלְסֵל אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר הֲרֵינִי מְסַלְסֵל אוֹ הֲרֵינִי מְכַלְכֵּל אוֹ הֲרֵי עָלַי לְשַׁלֵּחַ פֶּרַע הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר וְהוּא שֶׁיִּגְמֹר בְּלִבּוֹ לְהַזִּיר:


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


אָמַר הֲרֵי עָלַי צִפֳּרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה נָזִיר עוֹבֵר לְפָנָיו וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה בְּלִבּוֹ לְהַזִּיר אֵינוֹ נָזִיר וַהֲרֵי זֶה כְּמִי שֶׁלֹּא הוֹצִיא בִּשְׂפָתָיו כְּלוּם:


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."


כָּל כִּנּוּיֵי נְזִירוּת כִּנְזִירוּת. כֵּיצַד. מְקוֹמוֹת הָעִלְּגִים שֶׁמְּשַׁנִּין אֶת הַדִּבּוּר וְאָמַר שָׁם הֲרֵינִי נָזִיק נָזִיחַ פָּזִיחַ הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר:


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 intent 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


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר מִן הַחַרְצַנִּים בִּלְבַד אוֹ מִן הַזַּגִּים בִּלְבַד אוֹ הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר מִן הַתִּגְלַחַת אוֹ הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר מִן הַטֻּמְאָה בִּלְבַד הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר גָּמוּר וְכָל דִּקְדּוּקֵי נְזִירוּת עָלָיו וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בְּלִבּוֹ לְהַזִּיר אֶלָּא מִדָּבָר זֶה בִּלְבַד הוֹאִיל וְדָבָר שֶׁנָּזַר מִמֶּנּוּ אָסוּר עַל הַנְּזִירִים הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר גָּמוּר:


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


אֲבָל הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר מִן הַגְּרוֹגָרוֹת אוֹ מִן הַדְּבֵלָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר בָּהֶן וְאֵינוֹ נָזִיר:


When a cup of wine was mixed22 for a person and given to him 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.


מָזְגוּ לוֹ כּוֹס שֶׁל יַיִן וְנָתְנוּ לוֹ לִשְׁתּוֹת וְאָמַר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר מִמֶּנּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר גָּמוּר. וְאִם הָיָה מַר נֶפֶשׁ אוֹ כּוֹעֵס אוֹ מִתְאַבֵּל וְהָיוּ מְבַקְּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁיִּשְׁתֶּה כְּדֵי לְשַׁכֵּחַ עֲמָלוֹ וְאָמַר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר מִמֶּנּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר בְּאוֹתוֹ הַכּוֹס בִּלְבַד וְאֵינוֹ נָזִיר. שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוֵּן זֶה אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁתֶּה כּוֹס זֶה:


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


וְכֵן שִׁכּוֹר שֶׁנָּתְנוּ לוֹ כּוֹס כְּדֵי לְרַוּוֹתוֹ וְאָמַר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר מִמֶּנּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר בְּאוֹתוֹ הַכּוֹס בִּלְבַד וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּנְזִירוּת שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוֵּן זֶה אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁכְּרוּ אוֹתוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי. וְאִם הִגִּיעַ לְשִׁכְרוּתוֹ שֶׁל לוֹט אֵין דְּבָרָיו כְּלוּם וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל כָּל עֲבֵרָה שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁמִּשֶּׁהִגִּיעַ לְשִׁכְרוּתוֹ שֶׁל לוֹט אֵינוֹ בֶּן חִיּוּב:


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


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר עַל מְנָת שֶׁאֶהֱיֶה שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן אוֹ מִטַּמֵּא לַמֵּתִים אוֹ מְגַלֵּחַ שְׂעָרִי הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר וְאָסוּר בְּכֻלָּם. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִתְנָה עַל מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה וְכָל הַמַּתְנֶה עַל הַכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה תְּנָאוֹ בָּטֵל:


When a person takes a nazirite vow and [afterwards] says: "I did not know that a nazirite was forbidden to partake of wine..., " become impure," or " 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


נָדַר בְּנָזִיר וְאָמַר לֹא הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַנָּזִיר אָסוּר בְּיַיִן אוֹ בְּטֻמְאָה אוֹ בְּתִגְלַחַת וְאִלּוּ הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ כֵּן לֹא הָיִיתִי נוֹדֵר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר וְחַיָּב בְּכֻלָּם. שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאָסַר עַצְמוֹ בְּאֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה מִינִין וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ לֹא נָדַר אֶלָּא מֵאֶחָד מֵהֶם אָסוּר בְּכֻלָּן:


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


אָמַר יוֹדֵעַ הָיִיתִי שֶׁהַנָּזִיר אָסוּר בְּכָל אֵלּוּ אֲבָל הָיָה בְּדַּעְתִּי שֶׁמֻּתָּר לִי לִשְׁתּוֹת אֲנִי הַיַּיִן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינִי יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת בְּלֹא יַיִן אוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֲנִי קוֹבֵר אֶת הַמֵּתִים הֲרֵי זֶה אֵינוֹ נָזִיר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵלּוּ בִּכְלַל נִדְרֵי שְׁגָגוֹת שֶׁאֵינָם צְרִיכִין שְׁאֵלָה לְחָכָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


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


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי יָדִי נְזִירָה הֲרֵי רַגְלִי נְזִירָה לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. הֲרֵי רֹאשִׁי נָזִיר כְּבֵדִי נְזִירָה הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר. זֶה הַכְּלָל כָּל אֵיבָר שֶׁאִם יִנָּטֵל מִן הַחַי יָמוּת אִם אָמַר הֲרֵי הוּא נָזִיר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר:


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


הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר כְּשֶׁיִּהְיֶה לִי בֵּן. אִם נוֹלַד לוֹ בֵּן זָכָר הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר. אֲבָל אִם נוֹלְדָה לוֹ בַּת אוֹ טֻמְטוּם אוֹ אַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס אֵין זֶה נָזִיר. אָמַר הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר כְּשֶׁיִּהְיֶה לִי וָלָד אֲפִלּוּ נוֹלַד לוֹ בַּת אוֹ טֻמְטוּם וְאַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר. הִפִּילָה אִשְׁתּוֹ אֵינוֹ נָזִיר. חָזְרָה וְנִתְעַבְּרָה וְיָלְדָה הֲרֵי זֶה נָזִיר: