Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Lashes without an Action

Rava inquires (Daf Yomi: Nazir 17a): What is the law if a nazir is in a cemetery? Is there a certain amount of time that he needs to be there in order to receive lashes (one who became tamei in the Beis Hamikdosh and lingered there for the amount of time it would take for a person to prostrate himself is liable; is there a defined time for the nazir as well)?

The Gemora analyzes the case: If he is speaking about a case where he declared the vow while he was in the cemetery, and people warned him before his vow, “Do not utter this vow,” why would loitering be necessary? A nazir who enters a cemetery is punished without lingering because he was warned against entering (and he refused to listen); so too, here, he was warned (and he intentionally went against it)!

Tosfos asks: Shouldn’t this be regarded as a violation without performing an action? Why would he receive lashes for declaring himself to be a nazir?

Tosfos in Shavuos writes that the Gemora is in accordance with the opinions that maintain that one can receive lashes even without committing an action.

Tosfos here answers: Although he cannot receive lashes for the acceptance of the nezirus while inside the cemetery (for that does not entail an action), he will receive the lashes for continuing to remain in the cemetery after the acceptance of nezirus. That does constitute an action.

The Steipler Gaon asks: Where is the action? Why is the fact that he refused to leave regarded as an action?

He explains: Anytime an action is performed through a person, and he has the ability to eliminate it, but willingly refrains from doing so, this is considered as if he has committed an action, even though it happened by itself. The fact that the nazir is standing in the cemetery refusing to leave, that constitutes an action.

The Mishna Lamelech explains Tosfos differently: Tosfos maintains that although the transgression was committed without an action, he may receive lashes for the entering into the cemetery. Although no violation occurred at that time (since he was not yet a nazir), he receives lashes, since that was the action that led to the transgression.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yosef's Hair Cut

When Yosef was summoned to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams, it is written [Breishis 41:14]: and he shaved and changed his clothes, and he came to Pharaoh. Onkelos translates the word “shaved” as “vesaper.” It is noteworthy that every other place in the Torah, Onkelos translates it as “yegalchinei.” What is the explanation behind this?

The Rogatchover Gaon answers: It is written [ibid. 49:26]: May they come to Yosef’s head and to the crown of the head of the one who was separated from his brothers. Rabbi Levi understands this verse to mean that Yosef was a nazir. And so we find that from the day that Yosef was separated from his brothers, he did not taste any wine.

Onkelos is therefore troubled: How could it be that Yosef the nazir shaved before he came to Pharaoh? A nazir is forbidden to cut his hair! Onkelos answers that here it was not an actual giluach (hair cutting). His hair was trimmed without the use of a razor, and this is permitted for a nazir to do.

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Thirty Complete Days

The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Nazir 16a) had stated: If one says, “I am hereby a nazir for thirty days,” and he shaves his head on the thirtieth day, he has not discharged his obligation.

According to Bar Pada, this halacha is understandable. For since he explicitly said that he will be a nazir for thirty days, his nezirus is for thirty days, and Bar Pada does not hold that a partial day is regarded as a complete day. This is why he would be required to take his haircut on the thirty-first day. However, according to Rav Masna, his haircut should be valid, for he holds that part of a day is like the entire day!

The Gemora (5b) answered: The Mishna is referring to a case where he said, “I am hereby a nazir for thirty complete days.” The Rosh explains that everyone would agree that a partial day is not regarded as a day in a case where he explicitly said “complete days.”

Tosfos explains differently: One who says, “I am hereby a nazir for thirty days” is regarded as if he said, “I am hereby a nazir for thirty complete days.” The reason is as follows: Since it has been established that a standard nezirus is for thirty days, why would he say “for thirty days”? It would have been sufficient for him to have said, “I am hereby a nazir”! By the fact that he added, “for thirty days,” this indicates that he wishes to be a nazir for thirty complete days.

The Keren Orah and the Brisker Rav explain the Gemora according to the Rambam: We do not use the principle of “a partial day is regarded as an entire day” in any case where the person mentions a specific number. If he accepts nezirus upon himself without specifying a number, we would say that a partial day is regarded as an entire day. However, in this case, he specified an amount, and therefore, the principle is not applicable.

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