Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Nazir 18: Which Ritual Impurity is Worse?

Which is worse, contracting ritual impurity as a nazirite by coming into contact with a dead body, or beginning one's term of nezirut in a cemetery where one is already ritually impure?  In looking at a number of possible arguments, the rabbis agree that a person who comes into contact with a dead body is in a greater state of impurity.  This is because a person who was never ritually pure as a nazirite does not need to shave nor bring offerings.  

The rabbis also discuss whether or not a phrase about a nazirite's head having been defiled is superfluous.   They use this phrase to add further support to their interpretation regarding a nazirite who contracts ritual impurity and then must shave and bring offerings.

The number of dapim devoted to these details of nazirut and ritual impurity are somewhat tedious.  Clearly the circumstances mentioned are unrealistic at best.  It seems that the rabbis use these discussions not to determine the answers to these bizarre questions, but to apply their knowledge regarding related issues or arguments. 

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