Monday, March 24, 2008

Nazir and Fasting on Shabbos

The Gemora asks: [Why does the Mishna assume that beautiful means “nazir?”] Perhaps it means that he will perform mitzvos in a beautiful fashion. The braisa states: “This is my G-d and I will beautify him” means that I will beautify my mitzvos. I will make a nice Sukkah, Lulav, Tzitzis, and Sefer Torah with nice silks. Shmuel says: The case is where he holds onto his hair and says that he will be beautiful.

The Gemora asks: If accepting nezirus is regarded as sinful (abstaining from permissible things), how can we call it “beautiful”?

The Gemora answers: Yes! For even according to Rabbi Elozar HaKappar, who says that a nazir is a sinner, that is only referring to a nazir who became tamei, for he is required to start his nezirus over again, as it is written [Bamidbar 6:12]: the previous days shall be canceled because his nezirus has become tamei. Since he is now obligated to observe a longer nezirus than he originally anticipated, he might come to violate his nezirus, but a nazir tahor is not referred to as a sinner.

Tosfos asks: There are several Gemora’s elsewhere, where it is evident that Rabbi Elozar HaKappar holds that even a nazir is referred to as a sinner since he pained himself by abstaining from wine.

Tosfos answers that while it is true that a nazir tahor can be referred to as a sinner, but nevertheless, the mitzvah of becoming a nazir is greater that the sin of abstaining from wine, and therefore, he can be called “beautiful.” A correlation to this (something that is both a mitzvah and an aveirah) could be the halacha of fasting on Shabbos for one who experienced a bad dream. There is a mitzvah to fast on Shabbos in order to nullify the bad dream (this Tosfos would seemingly be inconsistent with the Shalah, who maintains that one should not fast on Shabbos unless the fasting is a pleasure to him, since otherwise, he would be more distressed) even though there is a semblance of a sin by fasting on Shabbos and negating the obligation of having pleasure on Shabbos.

The Gevuros Ari challenges Tosfos’ comparison: He asserts that fasting on Shabbos is not a mitzvah, for it is negating the obligation of having pleasure on Shabbos, but rather, one is permitted to fast on Shabbos if the dream is causing him distress. And furthermore, one who fasts on Shabbos is obligated to fast another day during the week in order to atone for the sin of fasting on Shabbos. However, in regards to a nazir, who has no reason to accept the nezirus, it is either a mitzvah or a sin. If the transgression is greater that the mitzvah, it should be regarded as a sin, and if the mitzvah is greater, it should not be regarded as a sin at all!

The Tosfos Nazir explains Tosfos to mean as follows: There are times when there is somewhat of a necessity for a person to accept upon himself the vow of nezirus. If a person is in a difficult situation, or he wishes to atone for a transgression that he committed, or if he saw an adultress in her debasement, there is a mitzvah to become a nazir. In these cases, although there is an element of sin, the mitzvah is greater than the aveirah, and he will not be referred to as a sinner.