Naso: A Nazir in The Time of Moshiach




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    Naso: A Nazir in The Time of Moshiach

    From the desk of Rabbi Nissim Lagziel, Mashpia in Oholei Torah: This week, we read parshas Naso, the longest parsha in the Five Books of the Torah. Among the many topics in the parsha, we will focus on nezirus. A person who makes a vow of nezirus cannot eat grapes nor drink wine (and any food or drink made out of them) • Full Article

    Rabbi Nissim Lagziel, Mashpia in Oholei Torah


    Why can’t a porcupine become a nazir?

    It’s not enough that it has quills, you also want them to grow?


    This week, we read parshas Naso, the longest parsha in the Five Books of the Torah. Among the many topics in the parsha, we will focus on nezirus. A person who makes a vow of nezirus cannot eat grapes nor drink wine (and any food or drink made out of them). He cannot cut his hair nor become tamei from contact with the dead. Along with the prohibitions of nezirus, the nazir is given a special designation by the Torah; he is called “kadosh,” as it says in our parsha (6:5), “ he shall be sacred, and he shall allow the growth of the hair of his head to grow wild.”

    Nezirus is one of the important sources which teaches us about the future Geula and its imminent arrival. In the Gemara (Eiruvin 43b) it says that one who makes a vow and says, “I am a nazir on the day that Ben Dovid comes,” can drink wine on Shabbos and Yom Tov but not on weekdays. The Rambam brings this halacha and paskens, “One who says ‘I am a nazir on the day that Ben Dovid comes,’ if he made the vow on a weekday, he is forbidden forever [from the things that a nazir is forbidden]. And if he vowed on Shabbos or Yom Tov, that Shabbos or Yom Tov is permitted and from then on, he is forbidden forever.”

    From this halacha we learn that Moshiach, “Ben Dovid,” can come any day of the week. The question is, why does the Torah teach us this important halacha here, in the laws of nezirus? Every letter, jot and tittle, in the Torah is precise, so if nezirus is what teaches us that Moshiach can come any day, there must be some deep connection between nezirus and the coming of Moshiach. What is that connection?

    In an intricate and scholarly sicha, the Rebbe goes on at length to innovate a chiddush in the laws of nezirus by which he answers our question. The din is that “goyim don’t have nezirus” because in the beginning of the parsha it says, “speak to the Jewish people.” From this, the Gemara learns, to the Jews and not to non-Jews. After the Rebbe explains the complicated dispute between Rashi and the Baalei HaTosafos on this topic, he addresses a simple question that in its simplicity remained a mystery and without an answer throughout the generations. The question is – what is the chiddush? Why should we think a goy could be a nazir? Why does the Torah have to negate this possibility? After all, we are talking about a goy and why should he be able to be a nazir?

    Based on this question (and others) the Rebbe proves that goyim must keep their vows. Every promise, vow or oath that a goy makes, he must keep! It is not part of the Seven Noahide Laws but it’s one of those things that “based on rational thought” they must fulfill, even without an explicit command! In other words, this is part of proper, civilized behavior. You said something? Do it!

    Therefore, the Rebbe innovates, if a goy makes a vow to be a nazir, what he says has no significance. But if a goy vows that he won’t become impure by contact with the dead, that he won’t drink wine and that he will grow his hair, then… he is (required to act as) a nazir! He will not be called a nazir in the language of Torah and he will not have the holiness of a nazir according to Torah. He just acts as a nazir! The holiness of being a nazir is only given to the Jewish people, but behaving like a nazir is something anyone can do.

    This is precisely the reason that the Torah needs to provide a source that the goyim are not in the category of the mitzva of nezirus because since it’s possible for a goy to act as a nazir by abstaining from wine, impurity and hair-cutting, the Torah needs to make it clear that even when a goy acts as a nazir, he is not a nazir! Nezirus is associated with holiness and the holiness of nezirus has nothing to do with goyim at all.


    On the spiritual plane the Rebbe explains that a nazir has two things: 1) abstinence and 2) holiness. The holiness of nezirus pertains solely to the Jewish people but abstaining pertains to goyim too, even more so. Since goyim are involved only in matters of this world, they can readily become immersed in gross material desires. Therefore, they are in desperate need of abstention. The avoda of a Jew though, is not abstention but drawing down holiness into things of this world and transforming them into vessels suited for revelation of the G-dly light.

    This is also the reason that true nezirus is associated very directly with Geula. Regarding the Geula it says (Amos 2:11), “and I shall raise some of your sons as prophets and some of your young men as nezirim.” The comparison of a nazir to prophets teaches us that true nezirus is connected with true holiness like the holiness of a prophet, a holiness whose purpose is elevating matters of this world. The ultimate, Geula nezirus, won’t require abstention and separation from the world, for the holiness of nezirus that will be present in the Geula will be so great that the pleasures of this world will have no attraction or negative influence on us. This is the holiness of the nezirus on the highest level. The ultimate holiness of nezirus will be in the Future, in the time of the Geula. Then, the Jewish people will be “free to engage in Torah and its wisdom. And in that time there will be no hunger and no war and no jealousy and no competition, for good will be abundantly plentiful and all delicacies will be available like dust, and the involvement of the entire world will be exclusively to know G-d.” There won’t be a need for abstention from the pleasures of the world because every Jew will “holy to G-d” naturally.

    This is also the inner reason why we learn the proof that Moshiach can come any day from nezirus, because the mitzva of nezirus demands, as it were, the coming of Moshiach, because the ultimate fulfillment of nezirus can happen only in the Geula. Until then, every nazirite is lacking, as it were. They cannot internalize the holiness of nezirus in the fullest way because the world around us does not allow for this. Therefore, the mitzva of nezirus needs the Geula and this is what teaches us that Moshiach ben Dovid can come any day and bring us together, with him, to the ultimate nezirus!


    We will end with an interesting Chassidic story about the connection between nezirus and kedusha. This story was told by R’ Leibel Groner in the name of his father, R’ Mordechai, who heard it from the Rebbe before the nesius. At the farbrengen on Shevii shel Pesach 5709, the Rebbe told some stories including the following one. When the Rogotchover Gaon was five or six, he and his father had yechidus with the Tzemach Tzedek. The Tzemach Tzedek said to the boy, “Be a lamdan and learn meseches Nazir.”

    When they left the room, the boy asked his father what connection there was between being a lamdan and meseches Nazir. After all, a lamdan needs to learn the entire Torah, not just Nazir!

    His father didn’t know what to say but the boy understood the depth of the Rebbe’s words and said to his father, “The Rebbe wants me to be a mazir, and if I am a nazir, the bracha that I will be a lamdan will be fulfilled. If I cut my hair, I won’t be a lamdan.”

    From then on, he did not allow his hair to be cut and, of course, the bracha was fulfilled!

    Good Shabbos!


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