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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 4a

R. Aha b. Jacob said: E.g., if one takes a nazirite vow whilst in a cemetery.1  This agrees with the view that the naziriteship is not immediately binding. But on the view that it is immediately valid, is then, 'he shall not delay,' applicable?2  Moreover, Mar, son of R. Ashi, said: The vow is immediately valid, and they differ3  only on the question of flagellation? — Nevertheless he violates, 'thou shalt not delay,' because the [ritually] clean naziriteship is delayed. R. Ashi said: Since this is so, [it follows that] if a nazir intentionally defiles himself, he transgresses thou shalt not delay in respect to [the recommencement of] the clean naziriteship.

R. Aha, the son of R. Ika, said: He4  might transgress 'that shalt not delay' in respect to shaving.5  Now, this goes without saying according to the view that shaving is indispensable,6  but even on the view that the shaving is not a bar [to the sacrifices], nevertheless he does not observe the precept of shaving. Mar Zutra the son of R. Mari said: He might violate 'Thou shalt not delay' in respect to his sacrifices. Is this deduced from here; surely, it is rather inferred from elsewhere: [When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord, thou shalt not slack to pay it, for the Lord thy God] will surely require it of thee:7  this refers to sin-offerings and trespass-offerings?8  — I might say that the Torah set up an anomaly9  in the case of nazir.10  What is the anomaly? Shall we say, the fact that a vow to bring the sin-offering of a nazir11  is invalid: but a sin-offering for heleb12  cannot be made obligatory by a vow,13  yet one transgresses, 'thou shalt not delay'? But the anomaly is this: I might have thought, since even if one says, 'I will be a nazir only with respect to the kernels of grapes,'14  he is a nazir in all respects. I would think that he does not violate, Thou shalt not delay'; therefore we are told [otherwise].15  Now, this is well according to the opinion that a vow of naziriteship in respect of the kernels of grapes makes one a nazir in all respects; but on the view of R. Simeon, viz., that one is not a nazir unless he separates himself from all, what can be said? Moreover, this is an anomaly in the direction of greater stringency?16  — But the anomaly is this: I might have thought, since

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. A nazir may not defile himself through the dead. Consequently the vow does not become immediately operative, but he must not delay to leave the cemetery so that it shall become binding.
  2. Surely not, for he is an actual nazir, subject to all the provisions of a nazir.
  3. Sc. R. Johanan and Resh Lakish, in Nazir 16b.
  4. The nazirite.
  5. After the completion of his naziriteship: v. Num. VI, 9, and thus violate the injunction 'thou shalt not delay'.
  6. Lit., 'hinders' — the offering of the sacrifices on the completion of naziriteship, hence delay in shaving involves a delay in sacrifices.
  7. Deut. XXIII, 22.
  8. And this would cover the case of a nazirite. For what purpose then the application of the verse 'thou shalt not delay' to the nazirite?
  9. Lit., 'a novelty' — as such it cannot be included in other general laws, as it is a principle of exegesis that an anomaly stands in a class by itself.
  10. Which includes a nazir's sacrifices.
  11. By one who is not nazirite.
  12. Forbidden fat.
  13. A vow to bring a sin-offering which is normally due for eating heleb is not binding if the vower is not actually liable.
  14. V. Num. VI, 4.
  15. By the coupling of the nazirite vow with other vows in the same sentence.
  16. How then would we think that the injunction does not apply, so that it is more lenient

Nedarim 4b

if he shaves himself for one [sacrifice] of the three, he fulfils his duty.1  therefore he should not be subject to, 'Thou shalt not delay'; hence we are told [that it is not so]. An alternative answer is this: the anomaly is that it cannot be vowed; but as to your difficulty of the sin-offering for heleb,2  — the sin-offering for heleb comes for atonement,3  but for what does the sin-offering of anal come?4  But the sin-offering of a woman who gave birth,5  which does not come for an atonement, yet one violates, 'thou shalt not delay' on account thereof? — That permits her to eat of sacrifices.6

The Master said: 'And just as in other vows, the father can annul those of his daughter and the husband those of his wife, so in the case of neziroth, the father can annul the neziroth of his daughter and the husband that of his wife'. But what need is there of analogy; let us infer it from VOWS by general similarity?7  — Perhaps he can annul only in the case of other vows, because their duration is unlimited; but with respect to neziroth, the duration of which is limited — for an unspecified vow of neziroth is for thirty days, — I might say that it is not so.8  Hence we are informed [otherwise].9

IF ONE SAYS TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, I AM DEBARRED FROM YOU BY A VOW' etc. Samuel said: In all these instances he must say, 'in respect of aught that I might eat of yours or that I might taste of yours'. An objection is raised: [If one says to his neighbour], 'I am debarred from you by a vow,' [or] 'I am separated from you.' [or] 'I am removed from you', he is forbidden [to derive any benefit from him]. [If he says,] 'That which I might eat or taste of yours' [shall be to me prohibited], he is forbidden!10  — This is what is taught: When is this? If he adds 'in respect of aught that I might eat or taste of yours.' But the reverse was taught: [If one says to his neighbour,] 'That which I might eat or taste of yours' [shall be prohibited to me], he is forbidden; 'I am debarred from you by a vow', [or] 'I am separated from you', [or] 'I am removed from you,' he is [likewise] forbidden! — Read thus: Providing that he had first said, 'I am debarred from you, etc.'11  If so, it is identical with the first [Baraitha]?12  Moreover, why teach further, 'he is forbidden' twice?13  — But this is what Samuel really said: Because he said, 'in respect of aught that I might eat of yours or that I might taste of yours', the maker of the vow alone is forbidden while his neighbour is permitted;14

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. A nazir at the termination of his vow is bound to bring three sacrifices, viz., a burnt-offering, a sin-offering, and a peace-offering. Yet if he shaves and brings only one, the prohibitions of a nazir, such as the drinking of wine, etc., are lifted. This is a unique law, and in the direction of greater leniency.
  2. Supra p. 7, n. 10.
  3. Hence one violates the injunction by delaying to make atonement.
  4. Though technically a sin-offering, it is, in fact, merely part of a larger vow. Hence it is an anomaly that it cannot be vowed separately.
  5. V. Lev. XII, 6ff.
  6. Which may be an obligation. e.g., the eating of the Passover sacrifice. Hence 'thou shalt not delay' is applicable.
  7. Since naziriteship is a form of vow. [H] Lit., 'as we find concerning', a method of hermeneutics whereby an analogy is drawn from one case for one single similar case, as distinct from hekkesh (supra p. 4, n. 6) where the analogy is based on the close connection of the two subjects in one and the same context.]
  8. Since the vow will automatically lapse.
  9. By the analogy.
  10. The first clause proves that the vow is valid without the addition.
  11. According to this rendering, the bracketed 'shall be prohibited to me' must be deleted.
  12. Why then is the order reversed? This difficulty arises in any case. But if each clause is independent, it can be answered that the second Baraitha intentionally reverses the clauses, so as to make their independence obvious, since the interpretation 'providing that he had first said' is forced; whilst in the first Baraitha the assumption that the second clause is an addition to the first is quite feasible.
  13. Seeing that the whole refers to one vow.
  14. To benefit from him.