Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Clear Expression

The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Nazir 13a) states: If he says, “I will be a nazir when I will have a child,” he becomes a nazir even if he has a daughter, tumtum, or an androgynous.

If his wife miscarries (a child was born and died soon afterwards; we are uncertain if the baby was full term or not), he is not a nazir. Rabbi Shimon says: He should say the following (he rules that he is a nazir out of doubt; the problem is that if he is not a nazir, he is forbidden from shaving his head and he is not allowed to bring a korban chatas): “If the child was viable, I am already a nazir for my previous obligation, but if not, I am voluntary declaring myself to be a nazir.”

The Rishonim explain that if he would not make such a condition, he would remain a questionable nazir for the rest of his life. He would be forbidden to shave, drink wine or become tamei to the dead.

The Brisker Rav explains that that this is not a deficiency in the halacha of hafla’ah (clear expression) that there is by nezirus. A clear expression of nezirus is required in order to accept an obligation of nezirus on oneself. Here, there is a clear acceptance of nezirus, and of that, there is no issue. The question arises only because he stipulated a time for the nezirus to take effect, and we are uncertain if the condition was met. This is why he would remain a questionable nazir for the rest of his life unless he utilizes Rabbi Shimon’s ploy.