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Biography of Yehuda Katz | Archives | This Week's Parsha


"A man or woman , making a vow to be a Nazir " (6:2)

A Nazir is a person that vows to be in a state of " Nezirut". This means that he or she can not partake of a grape product, cut their hair, and have contact with a dead body.(The laws of Nezirut are many and beyond the scope of this sheet.)The topic right before "Nezirut" discusses the "Sotah". These are the laws concerning the suspected wife, and how the Torah responds to such a circumstance. (Please refer there for further details.)In Tractate Sota 2a, it states the following: "Why is the portion concerning "Nazir" placed after the portion of the "Sota"? It is to teach you that anyone who sees a "Sota" should abstain from wine by becoming a Nazir." (End of Quote) This is because wine when misused can bring a person to immorality.Rabbi Tzodok Hakohan of Lublin ,Zechor Lebracha, asked, " Why in the Talmud (oral law) does the tractate Nozir come before tractate Sotah which is the opposite position found in the written law? ( This question and his answer is given in his book Pri Tzaddik. Please refer there for further details.Its a great answer.) I would like to propose an original answer, Bezrat Hashem. Through the juxtaposition of the Nazir and Sotah , the Torah is teaching us a very important lesson in repentance (TSHUVA).The Chovas Halivovos (Duties of the Heart by Rabbi Bachya ibn Paqua) writes that there are basically 4 motivations that can motivate a person to repent. These motivations are not equal to one another in terms of status. A lower level of repentance is when a person notices the punishment inflicted on others, and thus seeing others suffer repents out of fear of punishment. This is precisely why the Torah (Written Law) first places the Sotah before the Nazir so that when a person witnesses the suffering of the Sotah, he or she will be motivated to repentance by becoming a Nazir. This person is so frighten by the prospect of having to go through the Sotah process, that he or she wishes to repent from their own immorality through NEZIRUT. This is a lower level of repentance since it's motivated by fear, namely self interest. Yet, a higher level of repentance is prompted by a intense awareness of G-d's greatness, and thus realizes his many obligations to serve G-d thereby.This is prompted from a person's own accord. This is precisely why the Talmud (Oral Law) uses the order of first the Nazir and than the Sotah to emphasize this higher level of repentance. The Talmud is referring to a person that is self motivated to repentance from his own internal sincere motivations to come close to G-d due to G-d's Greatness.This type of person does not need to be shocked into repentance after seeing the Sotah's ordeal, he is motivated, however, by a sincere desire to become close to G-d as a natural outcome of the repentance process. We find a very fascinating event in Tractate Nazir4b that will clarify this concept, as follows:" The High Priest Shimon Hatzaddik once said, " I never ate of the offering of a Nazir except of that of one man. He was handsome with beautiful eyes and hair locks. I asked him, why have you become a Nazir? He said to me, I was a Shepard and once went to draw water from a spring and saw how handsome I am in the waters reflection. I was then motivated to become a Nazir......(Please refer there for further details. I just paraphrased it.) This story illustrates the Talmud's higher road to repentance. The core lesson from the Nazir is primarily repentance,and what motivates us to come close to G-d. Have a Good Shabbos


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