QUESTIONS: The Beraisa cites three opinions regarding the details of the
Nezirus of Avshalom, who was a Nazir Olam. Rebbi says that he only cut his
hair once every twelve months. Rebbi Nehora'i says that he cut it once every
thirty days, and Rebbi Yosi says that he cut it once a week. The Gemara gives
the sources for each opinion.
According the way that TOSFOS and most Rishonim understand the Beraisa, the
Beraisa is discussing the general laws of any Nazir Olam. It is addressing
the question regarding a person who accepts upon himself to be a Nazir Olam;
after how many days is he permitted to lighten his load of hair?
The MEFARESH, in contrast, takes a clearly different approach. The Mefaresh
explains that everyone agrees that a normal Nazir Olam cuts his hair once
every thirty days. The argument in the Beraisa involves *Avshalom's* specific
practice when he was a Nazir Olam.
Why, though, would Avshalom practice his Nezirus Olam differently than any
other Nazir Olam?
The Mefaresh (4b, DH Hachi Garsinan, and 5a, DH Ika Beinaihu) explains that
according to Rebbi, Avshalom waited longer to cut his hair than a normal
Nazir Olam because of his exceptional strength; he did not feel that his hair
was too cumbersome upon him until a year had passed. According to Rebbi Yosi,
Avshalom cut his hair once a week, because he was the son of the king, David
ha'Melech, and it was the manner of sons of kings not to grow hair for more
than a week, and thus growth for more than a week would feel heavy to him.
For a normal Nazir Olam, though, a person's hair is considered cumbersome and
"heavy" enough to bother him after thirty days and therefore he is allowed to
cut it once every thirty days.
The MISHNEH L'MELECH (Hilchos Nezirus 3:12) cites the Mefaresh and asks a
number of questions on his explanation. First, why did the Mefaresh not
explain the Gemara in its most staightforward sense, that the Machlokes
between the Tana'im in the Beraisa involves the practice of every Nazir Olam?
Second, why should the Tana'im argue about Avshalom's Nezirus? What relevance
does it have in practice today? (See Yoma 5b and other places where the
Gemara asks this type of question.)
We may add that according to the Mefaresh, why does the Beraisa say,
"Megale'ach" -- "he *cuts* his hair" (in the present tense), and not, "Hayah
Megale'ach" -- "he *used to cut* his hair" (in past tense), since, according
to the Mefaresh, the Beraisa is discussing only a past event (the practice of
Finally, the KEREN ORAH asks that according to the Mefaresh, why is the
Beraisa cited as an answer to the question of, "Where is the law of Nazir
Olam written?" The Beraisa is not discussing the law of Nazir Olam, but the
specific practice of Avshalom!
ANSWER: Regarding the Mefaresh's source for explaining that the Machlokes in
the Beraisa involves only the specific practice of Avshalom and not the
practice of every Nazir Olam, the S'MAG, cited by the Chafetz Chaim in
LIKUTEI HALACHOS, asks why -- according to Rebbi Yosi -- should a Nazir Olam
be permitted to cut his hair every seven days "because sons of kings cut
their hair every seven days?" What does the son of a king have to do with a
This question is what forced the Mefaresh to explain that Rebbi Yosi, and the
rest of the Tana'im in the Beraisa, are discussing only the Nezirus of
Avshalom and not the Nezirus of every Nazir Olam. (The S'MAG answers that
Rebbi Yosi is relying on the principle that "all Jews are like sons of
kings," as in Shabbos 111a.) In addition, the KEREN ORAH and CHAFETZ CHAIM
point out that the Mishnah later (8a) rules that a Nazir Olam cuts his hair
every thirty days and mentions no other opinion, implying that nobody argues
about the law of a normal Nazir Olam.
Regarding our other questions, it seems that according to the Mefaresh a
Nazir Olam's haircuts are not limited to a certain interval of time, but,
rather, they depend on the subjective experience of the individual. The Nazir
must feel that his hair has become heavy upon him in order to be permitted to
cut it. Hence, Rebbi says that if the person is strong and does not feel the
load of the hair until a year has passed, then he must wait a year before
cutting his hair.
Rebbi Nehora'i argues and says that even if he does not feel the load of his
hair, since most feel it after thirty days, he may cut it after thirty days.
Rebbi Nehora'i derives this from the Halachah that all Kohanim must cut their
hair every thirty days, even if they do not feel it to be cumbersome. Both
Rebbi and Rebbi Nehora'i agree, though, that a Nazir Olam may not cut his
hair in less than thirty days even if he is particularly finicky.
Rebbi Yosi argues and says that the determining factor of feeling one's hair
to be cumbersome may even be a leniency, l'Kula, to permit a person to cut
his hair in less than thirty days, if he is particularly finicky.
(The definition of hair being "heavy" needs to be clarified according to the
approach of the Mefaresh. The Gemara says that a Kohen cuts his hair after
thirty days because it has become "heavy." The other Rishonim explain that
this means that the Kohen must look handsome and not have unruly hair because
such hair is uncomely. They define "heavy" as unruly. According to their
definition, it should make no difference whether the Kohen is stronger or
weaker, since the weight of the hair is irrelevant; it is the dissheveled
appearance that matters. Apparently, the Mefaresh is taking the word "heavy"
literally, and he is explaining that the reason the Kohen must cut his hair
every thirty days is not because it looks uncomely to others, but because
when his hair is so long that he is conscious of it all the time, he loses
self-esteem. If someone is stronger and is not conscious of his hair even
when it becomes long, it does not detract from his self-esteem until he feels
it, which might take a longer time.)
This answers all of the other questions on the Mefaresh. The law of the
Beraisa applies not only to Avshalom, but to any Nazir who is in a similar
position, such as the son of a king, or one who is especially strong. The
Tana'im argue whether the interval is subjective, and if it is, whether it is
subjective *l'Kula* as well. This explains why the Beraisa uses the present
tense, "he cuts his hair," rather than the past tense. This is also why this
Beraisa is cited as a source for the law of a general Nazir Olam.
When the Mishnah later (8a) writes that a Nazir Olam cuts his hair every
thirty days, it is referring to the average person, while the Beraisa here is
discussing the exceptional person.
This also explains why the Mishnah (4a) writes that a Nazir Olam "lightens
his hair" and not that he "cuts his hair" like the Beraisa (4b) and Mishnah
(8a) write. (Tosfos infers from this that he must only lighten his hair and
he may not shave it all off.) The Mefaresh might maintain that the Mishnah
wants to make it clear that the haircut depends on a subjective feeling of
This explains the words of the Mefaresh here. However, the Mefaresh earlier
(4a, DH Hareini Nazir Olam) seems to take an entirely different approach to
the law of Nazir Olam. The Mefaresh there writes that when a person says, "I
am a Nazir Olam," he implies that he is accepting upon himself to be a Nazir
forever and therefore when thirty days pass and his hair is "heavy," he may
cut and lighten it.
The Mefaresh seems to be learning that a Nazir Olam does not care how long
his hair grows, but he simply wants to have the laws of normal Nezirus apply
to him at all times. If he cuts his hair every thirty days, then the laws of
Nezirus still apply to him all the time, since it is the law of every normal
Nazir to cut his hair after thirty days. It is as if he accepted upon himslef
to renew his Nezirus every time he finishes the old one. According to this
explanation, the law of Nazir Olam has nothing to do with the heaviness of
his hair! How, then, does this conform to what the Mefaresh himself writes
later, and to what the Gemara writes later when it says that the reason a
Nazir Olam cuts his hair every thirty days is because we learn from the
Halachah of Kohanim that after thirty days one's hair becomes heavy? In
addition, how will the Mefaresh explain, according to this approach, Rebbi
Yosi's opinion, who says that a Nazir Olam may cut his hair after seven days
even though he has not completed even one Nezirus? (MISHNEH L'MELECH, KEREN
It seems that the Mefaresh does not mean to explain that a Nazir Olam accepts
upon himself to renew his Nezirus every thirty days (like the Mishneh
l'Melech understands). Rather, the Mefaresh is explaining the word "Olam,"
and he is pointing out that when one says, "I am a Nazir Olam," his statement
does not mean "I am a Nazir [like other Nazirim who have lived] *in the
world*," or "I am a Nazir for [the duration of] the world" (meaning a normal
Nazir of thirty days, but forever), but rather it means, "I am a Nazir
*forever*" (meaning the new type of Nezirus of a Nazir Olam). Therefore, he
should not be able to cut his hair at all, at any time. However, the Torah
teaches that if a person accepts Nezirus forever he may lighten his hair
whenever it gets heavy.
QUESTION: Rebbi Nehora'i says that a Nazir Olam cuts his hair every thirty
days. The Gemara explains that he learns this from the Halachah of Kohanim,
who must cut their hair every thirty days. That Halachah shows that after
growing for thirty days, one's hair becomes heavy and unruly, and it follows
that a Nazir Olam -- who may cut his hair when it becomes heavy and unruly --
may cut his hair every thirty days.
TOSFOS (DH Mai Taima) points out that the source that a Kohen must cut his
hair every thirty days is the Gezeirah Shavah of "Pera, Pera," which is
learned from the Halachah of a normal Nazir who cuts his hair after thirty
days. If so, why must Rebbi Nehora'i learn the hair-cutting interval of a
Nazir Olam from Kohanim? He could learn it directly from a normal Nazir who
cuts his hair after thirty days!
Tosfos answers that it is necessary to learn the laws of Nazir Olam, which is
a state of permanent Kedushah, from the laws of Kehunah, which is also a
state of permanent Kedushah. We cannot learn the laws of Nazir Olam from a
regular Nazir, which is only a state of temporary Kedushah.
REBBI AKIVA EIGER (in Gilyon ha'Shas) is perplexed with Tosfos' question. A
Nazir Olam has no end to his Nezirus, so how could we possibly think that we
should derive the law of a Nazir Olam from the law of a regular Nazir? A
regular Nazir shaves his hair after thirty days because his Nezirus has
ended, while a Nazir Olam's Nezirus has not ended after thirty days!
ANSWER: The BIRKAS ROSH explains that Tosfos understands that the reason a
Nazir must grow his hair for thirty days is also because it takes thirty days
for hair to grow long and unruly. The Nazir will not have the experience of
growing unruly hair until he grows it for thirty days. (Even though he might
have had long hair at the time that he accepted the Nezirus, the Torah gives
a single period of time for everyone, even for someone who already has long
hair, and even for a person whose hair no longer grows.) Tosfos learns this
from the wording of the Torah that says that a Nazir must grow his hair
"Pera" (wild, unruly) (Bamidbar 6:5). Just like the "Pera" that a Kohen must
shave (Yechezkel 44:20) is unruly, thirty-day-old hair, so, too, the "Pera"
that a Nazir must let grow is unruly, thirty-day-old hair. Tosfos is asking
that we should learn directly from a normal Nazir that hair is considered
heavy and unruly after thirty days, and consequently a Nazir Olam who may cut
his hair when it becomes heavy should be able to cut it after thirty days.
Tosfos answers that there are many levels of unruly hair. Even though a
normal Nazir cuts his hair after thirty days because it is unruly,
nevertheless someone who has a permanent Kedushah might be required to wait
until his hair is *very* unruly (such as after a year). The Gemara proves
from Kohanim that even a Kohen whose Kedushah is permanent may cut his hair
after thirty days when it is only somewhat unruly, and thus the same applies
to a Nazir Olam.
However, the SHITAH MEKUBETZES and the ME'IRI take the approach of Rebbi
Akiva Eiger. They explain that we cannot learn the laws of Nazir Olam from
the laws of a normal Nazir, because the reason a normal Nazir cuts his hair
after thirty days has nothing to do with his hair being heavy and unruly.
They prove this from the fact that a person who accepts upon himself to
observe a Nezirus for more than 30 days (such as 50 days or 100 days) may not
cut his hair until the end of his Nezirus. Hence, we see that even though his
hair is unruly, he is not permitted to cut it. This might be Rebbi Akiva
Eiger's intention as well.
How does Tosfos answer this question? It could be that Tosfos holds that when
a person accepts a Nezirus for a longer period of time, it means that he
accepts to tolerate his hair becoming more unruly, because he wants to make a
greater affliction upon himself, just like he is accepting not to drink wine
for a longer period of time.
Alternatively, Tosfos learns that the Halachah of a Nazir *not to shave* and
the Halachah *to grow his hair "Pera"* are two separate Halachos. The reason
a normal Nazir may not cut his hair is not because he must let his hair grow
heavy, but in order that he feel like an animal whose hair grows unchecked.
There is no minimum time for this feeling; once he knows that he cannot cut
his hair, he feels less human. In addition to this requirement not to cut his
hair, the Torah adds that he must grow his hair "Pera" so that he should
suffer by having heavy and uncomfortable hair. Because of this requirement to
grow his hair "Pera," a person cannot accept Nezirus for less than thirty
days, because it takes hair growth of thirty days in order to experience