Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Virtuous Nazir and Food for Thought

The Gemora (Nazir 4b) states: A nedavah for nezirus is regarded as virtuous in cases such that of Shimon the Righteous (a great Kohen Gadol who served in the beginning of the second Beis Hamikdosh). For we learned in a braisa: Shimon the Righteous said, “I never ate from the meat of an asham sacrifice offered by a nazir who had become tamei except for one case. There was once a handsome young man from the south with beautiful eyes and locks of hair arranged in curls (who had become tamei and came to the Beis Hamikdosh to have his hair removed and to offer the required sacrifice). I asked him why he had taken upon himself a vow to become a nazir, which would eventually lead to having such beautiful hair removed (even if he would have completed his term of nezirus without becoming tamei, a nazir shaves his head upon completion). He responded to me, ‘I was a shepherd for my father and one day I went to a spring to fill my pail of water and saw my reflection in the water. My evil inclination suddenly tempted me to take advantage of my looks and wished to drive me out from this world. I said to my evil inclination: Wicked one! Why are you being so haughty in a world that is not yours, with one that in the future will be worms and maggots? I swore at that time to become a nazir.’ I was so impressed (by his piety) that I kissed him on his head and said to him, May there be more vowers of nezirus like you in Israel.”

The question that is asked is why the young man with the locks of hair arranged in curls did not simply go to a barber for a haircut to remove this temptation.

Rabbi Mendel Weinbach answers that on the way to the barber he was likely to change his mind and give in to temptation. The only solution was to immediately take upon himself a vow of nezirus which would eventually force him to eliminate his hair and the problems that accompanied it.

Food for Thought

*** What was the necessity to state that the nazir came from the south? What difference did it make where he came from?

*** How was he permitted to look at his reflection in the water; isn’t it forbidden for a man to look at a mirror?

*** Why connection is there between the “haughtiness” of the evil inclination and the temptation to sin?