QUESTION: The Mishnah (18b) says "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir." When a person
makes a statement of a Neder and it is not clear whether he intended to
create an Isur or not, we treat his statement stringently and the Neder
takes effect. The Gemara questions this from another Mishnah (Taharos 4:12)
that says "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel" -- when a person makes a statement that
might be an oath of Nezirus but it is doubtful what he meant, we treat his
statement *leniently* and the Nezirus does *not* take effect. Why should
Nezirus be different from Nedarim?
Rava answers that the Mishnah in Taharos that says "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel"
is the view of Rebbi Yehudah, who, we find in a Beraisa, is lenient in a
case of Safek Nezirus. Rava explains that since a Safek Nezirus is more
severe than a Vadai (definite) Nezirus, a person never has intention to
become a Safek Nazir according to Rebbi Yehudah. In contrast, a person does
have intention to obligate himself to observe a Safek Neder, since a Safek
Neder is not any more stringent than a Vadai Neder. (According to Rava, it
appears that the principle of "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" means that the Neder
is a *Safek* Neder and not a Vadai Neder, and consequently one would not
receive Malkus for violating such a Neder.)
Rava explains that this is why Rebbi Yehudah in our Mishnah (18b) rules
stringently with regard to a case of Stam Nedarim (where one says "this
object is Terumah," and it is not clear whether he means Terumas ha'Lishkah
(a Davar ha'Nadur) or Terumas ha'Goren (a Davar ha'Asur)), while he rules
leniently in the case of a Nazir who made his Nezirus dependent upon there
being a certain amount of grain in a certain pile.
Rav Huna questions this from another Beraisa in which Rebbi Yehudah says
that if a person makes himself a "Nazir Shimshon" on condition that there is
a certain amount of grain in a certain pile, and the pile is found to be
lacking, Rebbi Yehudah says that he is not a Nazir out of doubt. This is
problematic, though, because a Safek Nazir Shimshon is no more severe than a
Vadai Nazir Shimshon (for a Vadai Nazir Shimshon has none of the leniencies
that a normal Nazir has). Why, then, in this case should Rebbi Yehudah be
lenient? Rava has no answer for this question (see RAN).
The Gemara then quotes Rav Ashi who says that the Beraisa in which Rebbi
Yehudah is lenient in the case of a person makes himself a "Nazir Shimshon"
on condition is Rebbi Yehudah expressing the view of his rebbi, Rebbi
Tarfon. Rebbi Tarfon holds that Nezirus must be made with "Hafla'ah," with
certainty and clarity and with no ambiguity, and thus a person cannot make
himself a Nazir with a Tenai.
What is Rav Ashi answering? Although he gives a logical reason why Rebbi
Yehudah is lenient in the case of a Nazir Shimshon with a Tenai, his answer
does not explain Rebbi Yehudah's opinion in the Mishnah (18b) where Rebbi
Yehudah says that Stam Nedarim are l'Hachmir. If Rebbi Yehudah holds that
Nezirus cannot take effect when there is a Safek, because of the requirement
for Hafla'ah as based on the verse "Ki Yafli" (Bamidbar 6:2), then the same
should apply to Nedarim, because the verse says "Ki Yafli" with regard to
Nedarim as well (see 3a)!
We might suggest to answer that the statement of the Safek Neder in our
Mishnah is considered to have clarity and "Hafla'ah." This is because Rav
Ashi holds that "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" means that the Neder takes effect
not out of Safek, but it is a Vadai Neder, for we assume that the person did
intent to make a Neder and he was not unsure about it (nor did his statement
make the Neder conditional on anything). But if this is why Stam Nedarim are
l'Hachmir, then we are back to the question of who wrote the Mishnah in
Taharos that says that "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel!" Since a case of Stam Nezirus
does not involve a lack of "Hafla'ah" (like the Nedarim mentioned in our
Mishnah do not involve a lack of "Hafla'ah"), why should they be l'Hakel?
(a) From the SHITAH MEKUBETZES in the name of the RIF (Rabeinu Peretz), it
seems that Rav Ashi is not answering the question of who wrote the Mishnah
of "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel." Rather, he is merely answering why Rebbi Yehudah
is stringent in our Mishnah regarding a Safek Neder, while he is lenient in
the case of a person trying to become a Nazir Shimshon by making his Nezirus
dependent on the amount of grain in the pile. Rav Ashi is answering that
when the person makes his Nezirus dependent on the pile, it is lacking
"Hafla'ah" and therefore Rebbi Yehudah is lenient, while in the case of Stam
Nedarim there is no lack of "Hafla'ah" and therefore he is Machmir.
Who, then, is the author of the Mishnah in Taharos who says that "Safek
Nezirus l'Hakel?" The answer is that the Gemara is relying on the previous
answer of Rava, that the Tana of our Mishnah holds that a person willfully
creates upon himself a Safek Neder, because a Safek Neder is not more severe
than a Vadai Neder, but a person does not make himself a Safek Nazir,
because the laws of a Safek Nazir are much more stringent than those of a
(b) TOSFOS (in the margin and as cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES) also
explains that Rav Ashi is only answering the contradiction in Rebbi
Yehudah's own statements. To answer the contradiction between our Mishnah
("Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir") and the Mishnah in Taharos ("Safek Nezirus
l'Hakel"), we have to rely on the previous answer of Rava, that since a
Safek Nezirus is more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus, a person does not have
intention to make himself a Safek Nazir.
However, Tosfos explains that Rav Ashi is only discussing the statement of
Rebbi Yehudah in the Beraisa that discusses Nazir Shimshon. Rebbi Yehudah
there is following the opinion of Rebbi Tarfon. In contrast, in the first
Beraisa that discusses a person who conditionally accepts upon himself a
normal Nezirus, Rebbi Yehudah is not expressing the opinion of Rebbi Tarfon.
Rather, Rebbi Yehudah is lenient in that case for a different reason and not
because there is a lack of "Hafla'ah" -- but rather because a Safek Nezirus
is more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus. Accordingly, Rebbi Yehudah is the
author of the Mishnah in Taharos that says "Safek Nezirus l'Hakel" even
though he himself says in our Mishnah that "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir."
This also appears to be the opinion of the RAN (19b, DH Ein and DH Ela).
This is why the Ran writes that in the Beraisa, where Rebbi Yehudah
expresses Rebbi Tarfon's view in a case where the grain from the pile turned
out to be lost or stolen, there was no point in Rebbi Yehudah stating this
Halachah (that the Nezirus does not take effect) in a case where the grain
was *not* lost or stolen. This is because the only possible reason he could
be lenient in such a case would be because of the lack of "Hafla'ah," and
not because Safek Nezirus is more stringent than Vadai Nezirus (because he
is discussing a case of a Nazir Shimshon, where a Safek Nezirus is *not*
more stringent than a Vadai Nezirus). Since he is discussing a case of a
Nazir Shimshon, even though he is discussing a case of grain that was
stolen, it is immediately obvious that his reasoning is because of the lack
(c) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES, citing "Miktzas Mefarshim," explains that
according to Rebbi Tarfon, every Safek Nezirus and Stam Neder is lacking
"Hafla'ah," and therefore the Halachah is l'Hakel, and it is Rebbi Tarfon
who is the author of the Mishnah in Taharos who argues with our Mishnah. Our
Mishnah that rules "Stam Nedarim l'Hachmir" holds that Stam Nezirus is also
l'Hachmir, because it argues with Rebbi Tarfon and holds that "Hafla'ah" is
Rebbi Yehudah in our Mishnah is expressing his own opinion and not that of
Rebbi Tarfon, while Rebbi Yehudah in the Beraisa is expressing the view of
his rebbi, Rebbi Tarfon, but he himself disagrees with it.
According to this, why does our Mishnah only discuss Stam Nedarim and not
Nezirus, and why does the Mishnah in Taharos discuss only Safek Nezirus and
not Nedarim? Perhaps each Tana in each place was simply saying over the
words that he heard from his rebbi, as the Ran writes (beginning of 20a).