Thursday, 24 September 2015

Nazir 34: Analogies and Grape Vines

Before moving on to a new Mishna and then beginning Perek VI, the Gemara clarifies the last scenario, where six people vow that they will be nazirites based on different conditional clauses.  The Gemara compares this situation to one where a person vows to be a nazirite if a heap of grain is at least one hundred kor.  When the heap is lost or stolen, the vow is void.  This is because we cannot determine whether or not the condition was met.  If that case is compared with our current case, shouldn't the vows be voided?  

Rabbi Yehuda believes that these six people should be permitted to avoid their vows, for we should be lenient when it comes to vows of nazirut.  Rabbi Shimon disagrees in both cases: the uncertainty should lead people to follow through with their vows of nazirut.  The rabbis do believe that vows of nazirut should be explicit and clear. 

A new Mishna introduces another typically Talmudic scenario.  A person might see a koi (which is an unspecified animal - perhaps a deer/goat; perhaps a mouflon or a water buffalo) and vow nazirut if the animal is non-domesticated.  Another might vow similarly if the animal is not non-domesticated. Another might vow nazirut if the animal is domesticated and another if the animal is not domesticated.  A fifth person might vow nazirut if the animal is both; a sixth might vow nazirut if the animal is neither. Another might vow nazirut if one of the others is a nazirite and yet another might vow nazirut if none of the above are nazirites.  Finally, one might vow nazirut if all are nazirites.  The Mishna concludes that all of the people in this scenario would be nazirites.

The Gemara wonders whether one of the nine people might be obliged to observe all nine terms of nazirut.  Further, because it is unclear whether or not the koi is domesticated or undomesticated, the question about its domestication will never be answered.  This case will remain uncertain.  This provides contrast to the case of "so-and-so", where the mystery of his identity can be solved when he comes close to the group of people walking/vowing.

Perek VI begins with a Mishna regarding the three prohibitions that face a nazirite as set out in  Numbers 6:1-21.  The nazirite is not allowed to become ritually impure from a corpse, to shave his or her head, or to eat/drink anything from the grapevine.  

The Mishna adds a number of caveats: any tiny amounts that one might consume from the grapevine cannot be more than an olive bulk in size.  It also notes that an 'original Mishna' taught that  a person could dip his/her bread in wine as long as there was no more than a quarter log (three egg bulks) of wine in the drink.  The Mishna mentions the inside and outside of the grape, the hartzannim and zoggim, and which different  parts of the grape might be lumped together to create an olive bulk.

The Gemara speaks of fruit waste and of wormy grapes.  It examines whether or not the actual vine and leaves of the grape plant can be consumed.  Apparently Perek VI will focus upon the minuta of the vows of nazirut.

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