Monday, March 31, 2008


The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Nazir 11a) states: If one says, “I am hereby a nazir on the condition that I will drink wine and become tamei to the dead,” he is a nazir and all the prohibitions apply to him.

The Gemora explains: Everyone agrees to this halacha, for he is stipulating “against that which the Torah states and such conditions are null and void.

Tosfos asks: Why was it necessary for the Gemara to state this reason? The Gemora could have said the following: There is a principle that anything which cannot be performed through an agent, cannot take effect with a condition either. Since nezirus cannot be accomplished through an agent, it should not take effect with any condition (even if the stipulation is not against that which is written in the Torah)!

Tosfos answers: Since others are able to bring the korbanos for him, nezirus is regarded as something that can be performed through an agent.

The Gerrer Rebbe (Pnei Menachem in the sefer Torascha Shasu’oy) uses this Tosfos to answer the following question: It is written [Breishis 28: 20 – 21]: And Yaakov uttered a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear; and if I return in peace to my father’s house, and the Lord will be my God. A neder cannot be fulfilled through an agent, so a conditional neder should not take effect!

According to our Tosfos, he suggests as follows: A neder with respect to hekdesh may be performed through an agent. One person can consecrate something for his fellow. Although Yaakov’s neder was not a neder regarding hekdesh; since nedarim in general could be performed through an agent, all nedarim may take effect even with a condition attached.

The Ramban answers Tosfos’ question by saying that the principle of “anything which cannot be performed through an agent, cannot take effect with a condition either” only applies by something that a person does with his fellow. However, when a person stipulates a condition with himself, the condition is valid and takes effect even though all of the guidelines effecting conditions are not met. Since by nazir, his condition is only relevant to himself, the condition takes effect even though nezirus cannot be performed through an agent.